Assessing risks to improve safety

Manufacturing safety standards, like most other standards, are constantly evolving. Many of the documents that govern the way industrial equipment are using a similar concept, using risk assessment to ensure that injuries are kept to a minimum.
The most current example is ANSI/RIA R15.06-1999, an updated robotic safety specification that’s making its debut later this month during National Robot Safety Conference XXI. It’s one of many new or revised safety standards that ask equipment developers and users who alter this equipment to examine the risks posed by robots or other products.
They must then take steps to reduce these risks. The shift is driven in part by a new focus by America’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA is revising many of its regulations to make risk assessment mandatory for anyone who does any design work on industrial equipment.
“The new regulations say that the risk should be shared between the end user and the equipment provider,” says Brian Huber, a principal of Machine Safety Specialists. “OSHA realizes that people can’t eliminate everything, they can just get to an acceptable level of risk.”
If this shift results in more realistic analysis of accidents and their causes, it could help reduce lawsuits and liability claims while also improving overall safety. That’s a definite win-win situation that’s all too rare in government legislation.

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