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Risk Assessment Process to Ensure Machine Safety

When machine-associated mechanical hazards cannot be eliminated, they must be minimized to an acceptable level through inherently safe design. Most of the risk associated to mechanical hazards can be minimized to acceptable energy or forces levels by application of risk reduction strategy. And if this is impossible, then the hazards need to be isolated from people by the use of guards, which will maintain safety distance between people and the danger zone. These requirements are further projected to fuel the growth of global machine safety market.

According to the president of American Society of Safety Engineers, Warren K. Brown industries spend approximately US$ 170 Bn a year on the cost related to workplace illness and injuries. Also, nearly US$ 1 Bn each week on injured employees and their medical providers.

Generally, any enhancement to machine’s safety starts with risk assessment. This type of operation includes risk analysis, followed by risk evaluation.

  • Risk Analysis 

Risk analysis can be completed in following steps

  1. Determination the limits of the machine

Establishment of limits of the machine is the first step in the risk management process. After establishment, one should be able to describe the conditions in which the machines is likely to be used such as who will use it, time for utilization, material type etc. The life cycle of the machine, including installation, design, unjamming, disposal, maintenance, unjamming, as well as foreseeable utilization, and the expected experience of the worker need to be established.

As soon as these conditions has been established, identification of hazards and risk estimation starts.

  1. Hazards Identification 

When the worker is exposed to hazardous situation, the occurrence of risk event might lead to an accident, which will result in harm. Therefore, hazard identification is the important part in risk management process. A list of all the man-machine interfaces, or all energy sources, which can affect the safety and health of the machine attendant need to be carefully established. Things to be considered while determining are, moving elements, electrified components, machine components. Further, the components that are hot or cold, vibration, noise, visible or invisible radiation, awkward postures need to be considered while listing hazards.

  1. Risk Estimation 

Risk elimination compresses comparison of various identified hazardous situations. The risk identification is stated as the combination of probability of occurrence and severity of the risk. The probability of occurrence can be defined on the basis of duration and frequency of exposure to the risk, probabilities of reducing or avoiding the risk and possibilities of occurrence of hazardous event. Risk index can be defined to make the estimation easier.

  • Risk Evaluation 

The final step in risk estimation process includes making the judgment of the estimated risk level. In this step, it is defined whether the risk is tolerable, or not. Risk reduction measures need to implemented and measured, when the risk is defined as intolerable. In order to ensure the preferred solution fulfill the risk minimizing objective without generating new risky situation, the hazard assessment process need to be repeated again the solutions have been applied.

Industries uses different types of equipment and systems to ensure safety of workers such as safety sensors, emergency stop control, programmable safety system, safety interlock switches, safety modules etc. A recent study published by Trends Market Research, a market research firm states that safety sensors segment is likely to remain the major segment in the machine safety market and projected to procure one-fifth revenue share of the market by the end of 2017.

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