Friday, May 16, 2014

The Machine Safeguarding Lifecycle - Where Are You?


As engineers we like to make a complicated topic as simple as possible for our customers by outlining an easy-to-understand, step-by-step process. This is what we have done with machine safeguarding and have seen major success for our customers when this process is followed. We enjoy doing presentations to educate the industry on how to take control of safeguarding in your facility and love seeing success stories as companies adopt these beliefs into their own culture. The following is a summary of the entire process, from start to finish.


1.       Critical Machine Inventory: This is your starting point. Do you understand the full scope of equipment in your facility? What level of guarding do you have on each one? Where are your largest risks? Where do you even begin? These are some of the questions you may ask if you are just beginning on your safeguarding journey. It is important to document what you currently have and develop a plan of action. You can’t do everything at once, create a plan that works for your timeframe and budget.


Now, apply the following steps to each machine:


2.       Safeguarding Assessment: Don’t jump to conclusions on the type of guarding your machine requires. Take the time to understand all of the risks on the machine and how your operators and maintenance personnel interact with it. Without understanding these pieces, you may end up spending a lot of money on a guarding solution that does not work or actually creates more hazards than what you started with. Perform a risk assessment with a multi-functional group and choose safeguarding controls that effectively reduce the risks as well as work well with your production requirements. And make sure they meet CSA Z432 requirements!


3.       Scope of Work: From the results of your assessment, develop a scope of work that details out all the guarding and controls that you want to add to your machine. Use this to ensure that contractors fully understand your requirements and that you are receiving apples-to-apples quotes that you can compare fairly.


4.       Integration: Install the safeguards on your equipment. Whether you do this yourself or hire a contractor, ensure that you involve operators, maintenance, safety and management so that everyone has a say to ensure it is done correctly. Take the time to train everyone on the new safety procedures and document them in an easy-to-understand safe work procedure and machine specific lockout procedure.


5.       Verify: Review the assessment and compare it to the integration to ensure you are satisfied that the risks have been mitigated. Review this on a regular basis as production requirements and legislation can change.


6.       NEXT! Update your safeguarding plan and critical machine inventory anytime you improve the guarding on a machine. Pick your next priority and start the process over again. Celebrate that you have made another machine safer for your employees!


This may seem like a daunting process, especially if you are only at step 1, but we strongly recommend that you take the time with each machine to ensure you do it right the first time. And take comfort in knowing that you are not alone, we see companies all across the prairies at different stages of this cycle. And we are here to help, so don’t hesitate to give us a call with any questions. Good Luck!

Posted by Kristin Petaski at 3:31 PM 0 Comments
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