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The Functional Safety Lifecycle and You!

Author: Revere Electric

Stage 1: Understanding Hazards and Risk Assessments

Machine safety has become more recognized than ever before.  Employers and equipment manufacturers are tasked with providing equipment that is free from recognized hazards yet remain efficient, productive, & competitively priced.   Revere Electric Supply, in partnership with Rockwell Automation, provides the tools needed to improve compliance, simplify development, reduce design time, and reduce costs. 

  There is a large difference between a hazard analysis / identification and a task-based risk assessment. 

  • A hazard analysis / identification looks at an entry point and provides protection to guard against a general hazard (pinch point, hand crush, cutting tool, etc.).
  • A task-based risk assessment will see the hazard, but look at multiple ways that it is being used.  For example, an operator who uses the machine daily will work with the machine differently than a maintenance person, cleaning crew personnel, supervisors, or even visitors.  

Why Do a Risk Assessment?

  1. A Risk Assessment is a proven method of providing documentation that a machine is safe to operate.
  2. NFPA 79: – an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) national consensus standard – states that the safety circuit design shall be based on a Risk Assessment.
  3. ANSI RIA R15.06: standard requires the manufacturer to have a documented risk assessment.
  4. ANSI B11.0 4.11: Where modifications are made to the machine/system (for example, intended use, tasks, hardware, and software), a risk assessment / risk reduction process shallbe repeated for those parts of the machine/system being modified or affected.
  5. As existing standards are updated and new standards emerge, there will continue to be more emphasis placed on conducting Risk Assessments.

End User Benefits

  • Provides proof of due diligence
  • Consistent risk reduction across multiple plants
  • Identifies risk reduction techniques for new & upgraded equipment
  • Produces a more complete machine safeguarding solution

OEM Benefits

  • Meets end-user equipment purchase requirement
  • Provides OEMs with evidence of due diligence, potentially reducing litigation after the equipment ships
  • Helps define safety solutions that improve productivity
  • Provides competitive differentiation

To avoid workplace injury, OSHA requires adequate guarding or complete energy isolation from the hazard. However, for machine maintenance, this is found to be impractical as production tim e can be lost and may still cause injury (pneumatics, hydraulics, etc.).  Therefore, OSHA developed the Minor Servicing Exception for these circumstances. 

If minor servicing activities are routine, repetitive, and integral to the operation of the system, a facility or machine builder may use “alternative measures” to guard the machine from hazards.  Cleaning jams, tool changes, loading parts, etc. may fall under the Minor Servicing Exception.

Risk Assessments are the first step in determining which process should be used for safe machine operation.  For a task around a specific hazard, the Risk Assessment will determine if the machine should be locked out & tagged out, hard guarded, or if acceptable alternative measures can be taken.  

Risk Assessment is a process designed to:

1.        Identify  hazards associated with human interaction to processes or machines

2.        Estimate  the risk level associated with the hazards

3.        Evaluate  the risk level to determine if the risk level is acceptable

4.        If the Risk is too high, apply a Risk Reduction Technique


For more information into the standards and guidelines around a risk assessment, as well as details into Rockwell Automation Safety Assessments, please review the following:

Rockwell Automation Machinery Safebook 5

Rockwell Automation Safety Assessments

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