Friday, August 28, 2015

Believe that all machine incidents are preventable.

One of Workplace Engineering Solutions core beliefs is that every machine incident is preventable.  It's easy to say that and write it down, but it's important to back that up with the strong understanding that it is possible.  How did we come up with that belief?  Our belief that all incidents are preventable comes from our vast experience with machine safety and our understanding of finding the root cause of a problem.  When something happens, as important as it is to quickly fix the problem, you can't lose sight of the necessity to figure out the how and why something happened, so that you can make sure it never happens again.  You owe it to all the individuals that are working on machinery every day at your organizations.


Incident Investigation:  When an incident occurs it's very important to work the problem and look for the root cause.  Often the explanation for an injury is the worker didn't follow the safety rules.  But digging deeper, why did the worker not follow the rules?  Did they deliberately decide not to follow the rules, or is something preventing them from doing it right?  Did they remove the machine guard because they don't like guards, or did they remove it because parts catch on the guard causing another hazard?  Review your current safeguards that are in place to ensure they were working correctly. Did you have an inspection program in place to review these safeguards on a regular basis, so you can be confident they have always been working properly?


Near Misses:  Something happened, but no one got hurt.  Here is the perfect opportunity to ensure that it does not happen again but maybe next time with severe consequences.  Similar to above, work the root cause.  Figure out how the hazardous condition was created, and work to solve it so that the condition does not repeat itself.  Review your risk assessment, was the hazard noted on the original risk assessment?  If not, it's time to amend that risk assessment and ensure something is in place to protect from that hazard.


Machine Hazard Identification:  Instead of waiting for the above situations, work the problem and look for hazards and prevent risk before anything happens.  Here is where you begin a preventative and predictive strategy.  Don't wait for things to happen to you, look for these conditions and manage risk before the incident happens.  Review your machinery before incidents happen and verify that all hazards have been noted and the proper controls are in place.

Posted by Kristin Petaski at 6:46 AM 0 Comments

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Do You Know the Difference Between Awareness and Engineered Controls? It Could Mean Life or Death.



Do you have any chains or railings restricting access to machinery? This is an issue that we come across daily and we really want to drive home the importance of this topic. Without having a clear understanding of the difference between awareness controls and engineered controls, you could be exposing your workers to extreme hazards and exposing yourself to serious legal consequences.

It happens every week, we walk through a facility and are shown by the management the “machine guarding” that they have in place to protect their workers. The management is proud of the safety improvements that they have made and fully believe that their workers are protected. They won’t be expecting the injury that could very easily occur to their operator at any time because they have a false sense of security. If there is one thing you take from this article, remember this “AWARENESS CONTROLS DO NOT PREVENT INJURIES”.

Guard Rails

Awareness controls can only highlight hazards and suggest that someone does not enter an area, they are easy to ignore and defeat (decals, chains, yellow railings, etc). Engineered controls physically restrict people from entering an area or automatically stop hazardous motion when a zone is occupied (perimeter fencing, fixed guard, light curtain, etc.). The difference to remember is that with awareness controls a person can still make a choice to access the hazard and therefore injuries are still very possible.

perimeter fence

Now don’t read this article and assume that all hazards require engineered controls. This is where your risk assessment comes into play. And if you don’t have risk assessments for each piece of equipment, you better get started! Your risk assessment not only identifies the hazards on the machine but helps you to determine what type of control is needed to mitigate the risk.

So, if you walk around your facility and notice a lot of decals, chains and railings discouraging people from accessing hazards, do a risk assessment and find out if those are sufficient controls. If you are unsure if your machine guarding is sufficient, give us a call, we can help!


Posted by Kristin Petaski at 3:25 PM 0 Comments
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