Bosch Rexroth
Machine safety

Design Insights: Designing for Safety; Designing Out the Hazards; The Transparency of Safety Data

May 20, 2021
A review of the day’s top trending stories from Machine Design editors.

Designing for Safety

There are so many considerations a machine design professional must consider—productivity, efficiency in both machine and energy use, and profitability. But the top consideration in any design is safety. A new Machine Design article reinforces not only the importance of safety by design, but also reiterates the process through which that can be achieved.

Author Todd Swinderman, CEO emeritus of Martin Engineering, looks at conveyor systems as a great example of how the concept of Prevention through Design (PtD) should be the cornerstone of the safety design process. “Using hazard identification and risk-assessment methods early in the design process lets engineers create the safest, most-efficient conveyor or other equipment for the space, budget and application,” Swinderman writes.

Combined with traditional safety processes such as personal protective equipment and machine controls, PtD puts the machine safety—and by extension the worker’s safety—at the forefront of the process, which benefits everyone. “By encouraging the use of the Hierarchy of Controls at the planning stage, along with the Design Hierarchy at the design stage, the resulting conveyor or other machine will likely meet the demands of modern production and safety regulations,” Swinderman notes. “The end results will be a longer operational life, fewer stops and lower operational costs.”

Designing Out the Hazards

A recent e-book produced by Machine Design and Altech takes a comprehensive look at the value of safety by design. That value, as the forward to the e-book notes, goes well beyond the machine itself. “A safe working environment is a fundamental right of every worker, and most managers understand the costs of safety programs, equipment and training. But there are other factors involved. A worker who feels safe on the job and empowered to point out places where safety can be improved will be more productive and better engaged with their work.”

Downloading this important e-book will provide further insights and case studies on the topic of safety by design.

The Transparency of Safety Data

One more point on machine safety: It’s one of those areas that needs to be monitored and celebrated within any organization. One way to ensure both is to make all safety data—not just the good news—a visible part of employee communications.

As a Machine Design article on safety processes authored by Bosch Rexroth employees noted, safety is a variable because of the human operator. Using modern technology to better understand how an operator approaches a given task can help reduce strains and stresses, thus making the process both better and safer.

“With IIoT and Industry 4.0 technology, safety data can be analyzed and turned around to provide a safer environment for the worker,” the article notes. “One way to use data to improve safety necessitates having data about the operator available. By using operator data such as biometrics, training levels and even language skills, the machine can be programmed to react to the unique characteristics of its user in order to provide the safest environment for individual operators.

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