5 Steps for Risk Assessment in Manufacturing

Workplace accidents in manufacturing can grind production to a halt. Assembly lines are built around maximizing efficiency and delivering a high volume of quality products. To meet these goals, safety can be sidelined, leading to devastating legal consequences. This is why risk assessment in manufacturing is so important.

OSHA has no mandates for specific machine safety requirements, but in their General Duty Clause states that manufacturers must offer “a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm”.

Promoting standards of occupational safety is more than just a sound business decision – it keeps your workers safe, operations running smoothly and efficiently, and legal costs low. Below, we examine some of the ways safety can be implemented into your manufacturing company through risk assessment, machines designed with safety in mind, and other methods for promoting safety in your workplace through automated machines.

Risk Assessment and Mitigation in Manufacturing

In Europe, the Machine Directive dictates that all suppliers must provide risk-assessed safe with standardized documentation. Things are a little different in the United States. When operating machines, the end user takes full responsibility for their safe operation, although risk assessment is typically done by both the manufacturers and the end users.

Excluding machines that are custom-built for clients, this process is often done independently, and can be self-certified thanks to flexibility in the ANSI B155.1 standard.

The goal of risk-assessment should be to attain acceptable levels of risk when operating machinery. The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies (PMMI) suggests following these five steps:

Identify Hazards – Building a team to determine risk assessment is the first step in this process. PMMI offers risk assessment training, teaching the differences between a hazard-based approach and a task-based approach to making these determinations.

Assessing Risk – While assessing risk is a subjective process, engineers sometimes overemphasize this step by getting bogged down by measurements and scoring. Hazards and risks vary from machine to machine, meaning there is no universal approach to this process, and varies by company and culture.

Reduce Risks to an Acceptable Level – The most critical step in risk assessment is making actionable change in your workplace to improve safety conditions. After identifying and assessing the risks from a machine, implement changes to mitigate potential safety hazards.

Document Results – Legal cases depend on good documentation. Taking photographs of proper signage and training protocols will help your company if a workplace injury occurs.

Follow Up – If risk assessment is performed but not maintained, all of the work done to improve worker conditions will be nullified. Routine inspection of safety measures ensures safety over time.

Risk-assessments do not require specialists to be brought in, and can be done in many ways, although methodologies vary by industry. Risk assessment is something that is often overdone, but should never be regarded as trivial.

Administrative Measures for Employee Safety

There is no such thing as “zero risk” when operating machines. Automated machines may reduce risk by keeping workers away from dangerous moving parts, but ultimately the workplace must dictate and enforce guidelines to prevent accidents on the factory floor. Therefore, the goal of any manufacturer should be to reduce risk as much as possible without compromising operations.

Making this information available to employees in trainings and signage is key to reducing workplace accidents. List and describe safe dress, rules of machine operation, and PPE required to operate any machine.

Legal Implications of Risk Assessments in Manufacturing

When shipping machines into Europe, risk assessment is legally required before being used on a factory floor. In the United States, ANSI B155.1 is a standard rather than a law, but this standard is what is measured in the court of law should an individual get harmed. In these legal instances, documentation becomes of the utmost importance.

Companies that fail to produce these risk assessment standards have less positive outcomes in legal cases. Taking photos of proper safety precautions installed on machines makes a company much more defendable.

Good Machines Follow Risk Assessment Standards

Companies that design their machines around safety standards tend to work better for clients. Why is this the case? Design that emphasizes safety implicitly puts functionality first, meaning that these machines are designed more efficiently, and small changes can be identified in machines that improve efficiency and ease of use.

As confidence goes up, cost goes down. Custom Cut Metals offers the highest standard in automated machines and the best price point available. Contact us to learn more about how we design our machines with safety first.