Monday, April 27, 2020

Always be Reducing Risk

We’ll go under the assumption that your machine safeguarding plan is built upon risk assessments.  Its an important building block, and the whole discussion following is about reviewing them periodically.  Its important that you have them, so that if things change with your equipment, you know the work and due diligence you did to get to this point.  So what might generate a review of risk assessments?

Incident or Near Miss:  Lets hope it was a near miss, but any type of incident would be an important trigger for a review of the risk assessments.  Take the information from your near miss report and cross check your risk assessment.  Did you have the root cause of the incident as a hazard on your risk assessment?  Were the controls you proposed sufficient to protect the worker?  These near miss reviews can be important clues to how well prepared you are.  Was the incident with an operator, or maybe a third party?  Maybe all the tasks and hazards were not considered because third parties weren’t considered originally.

Process Change:  Perhaps you are moving a piece of equipment or making a change to the products that will be run on it.  This would be another opportunity to review the risk assessment.  A process change or new product could create new tasks, or maybe new hazards.  An example might be adding new products that require a helper or additional operator.  The original risk assessment might have only considered one operator, and the review might uncover new hazards when a second person is added to the task.

Established Time:  You may want to avoid waiting for the above conditions to happen, in case they are not a set frequency.  You might just want to set an established frequency for all of your risk assessment reviews.  You could vary that time period depending on the overall risk of the equipment.  High risk machines could be reviewed more often than lower risk equipment, so that the work to review multiple risk assessments doesn’t happen to overwhelm the team.

No matter what you choose to trigger your reviews, its important to understand you always want to be reviewing risk.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

What Do We Know About Asbestos

Asbestos. The word strikes fear in the hearts of building owners and inhabitants alike. Marketed as “Canada’s White Gold” in the past, this known carcinogen has become the subject of much confusion and debate in the public sector. Even though it’s been recognized as a toxic material since the 1930s, it’s curious how we still must worry about asbestos exposure in the buildings we live and work in today.

Click here to learn more about the harmful effects of asbestos, why we find it everywhere and what to do if you suspect asbestos in your workplace or home.


Friday, December 20, 2019

EHSP Strengthens National Presence with New Winnipeg Location

EHSP acquires Winnipeg-based Workplace Engineering Solutions to provide more focused services in the Winnipeg area and across the prairie provinces.

CALGARY, Dec. 17, 2019 – EHS Partnerships Ltd. (EHSP), a Canadian occupational health and safety consulting firm, announced today the acquisition of Winnipeg-based engineering consulting company Workplace Engineering Solutions (WES) as a wholly owned subsidiary.

Led by professional engineers Kristin Petaski and Mike Gordon, WES designs custom solutions to address machine safety concerns. They specialize in evaluating worker risk, identifying necessary controls, and assessing the effectiveness of those controls to ensure compliance with standards and regulations. They also developed WESguard, a web application that works as a machine guarding tracker.

WES’s technical expertise and services complement EHSP’s already strong OH&S capabilities, including hazardous materials and designated substances consulting, industrial hygiene consulting, indoor environmental quality assessments, legislative health and safety compliance and Certificate of Recognition (COR) audits, workplace safety, and training.

The Winnipeg location is the latest addition to EHSP’s branches across North America. Since opening its doors in 2005, EHSP has grown from a local operation servicing Calgary and area to establishing offices in Edmonton, Ottawa, and San Jose, California.

“This acquisition not only strengthens EHSP’s national presence, but also gives us a stronger competitive advantage,” said EHSP Partner Glyn Jones. “WES shares EHSP’s values of dedication to the safety profession, providing quality work, and creating lasting client relationships.”

“We are excited to offer our services to Winnipeg and across Manitoba, and to introduce WES’s technical expertise to our already established Canadian markets in Alberta and Ontario.”


For more information, please contact:

Katrina Palad, Communications Coordinator



Learn more about EHSP: LinkedIn:

Twitter: @ehsp

Instagram: @ehspartnerships


Monday, December 16, 2019

Light Curtain Application Considerations

      Light curtains have become a very popular method of safeguarding equipment. They are a very flexible solution as they allow full access to a hazard zone providing that the hazardous motion has been stopped and they are also becoming more and more cost effective as more suppliers enter the market.

      But don’t rush into purchasing and installing a light curtain, they have their limitations and you are relying on them to protect your workers. Ask yourself these two main questions before deciding on a light curtain for your machine:

      1. What hazard am I wanting to protect against?

      Light curtains are designed to stop hazardous motion when activated. Many machine hazards can be signalled to stop, however some cannot such as projectiles or moving components without a braking system like a flywheel. It is important to consider all hazards and activities on a machine and ensure that the guarding solution you are choosing is capable of protecting against all the hazards, not just some of them. If you have not done a risk assessment on your machine, do not move forward with a guarding solution. A risk assessment is always the first step.

      2. What design requirements are necessary to ensure the light curtain adequately protects against that hazard?

Unfortunately it is not as simple as choosing the one and only light curtain from the catalog and throwing it on your machine. There are many specifications to consider such as length, resolution, performance level, programmable requirements, safety distance and overall guarding design. If these specifications are not considered you may end up spending a lot of money on a guarding system that doesn’t actually protect your workers. Without a properly designed system, operators may be able to work around them or the light curtains may not actually stop your machine before the operator can reach the hazard.

It is crucial to be confident that your light curtain system has been designed and installed correctly. If your workers reach through a protected area, they are counting on the machine functions to be disabled. Don’t put your workers at risk, do your due diligence when considering light curtain applications. Call us if you have any questions!

Light Curtain Design



Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Are You Actually ISOLATING Your Electrical Energy?


When we inspect equipment, one of the things we always check is the presence and state of the electrical disconnect.  You may ask why this is important, after all, it is just a switch. However, a proper disconnect allows your workers to follow safety procedures. Any time a worker must enter a hazard zone outside of normal operation, such as during set up, adjustment, cleaning and maintenance tasks, the machine shall be locked out. If a machine does not have an accessible, lockable isolation point how will your workers perform lockout? Your workers are not given the tools they need to work safely.


Control switches do not isolate the flow of energy, they only interrupt it. It is crucial to ensure you are using a device that actually isolates the energy by maintaining sufficient physical space between contactors, eliminating the chance for a fused or arced contact and accidental start up.


Old disconnects allow the switch to be locked in both the ON and OFF positions. Having this functionality opens up the possibility for someone to make a mistake. We have seen it happen before, an experienced worker accidentally locks the machine ON instead of OFF. That is why it is required to have disconnects that are lockable in the OFF position only.


Take a walk through your shop and look for the following on each machine:


  1. Does the machine have a disconnect to isolate power?
  2. Is the disconnect is good working condition?
  3. Is the disconnect labelled?
  4. Is the disconnect accessible?
  5. Is the disconnect lockable in the off position only?
electrical disconnect lockable in on and off
This disconnect is lockable in the on & off positions.
electrical switch not isolation    push button lockout not isolation
These controls interupt energy but do not isolate.
electrical disconnect lockable on only  electrical disconnect lockable on only
These are proper electrical isolation disconnects.



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