10 Aug Good Friends
The title, a bit misleading, does not refer to our buddies who accompany us to the local bar to enjoy some food and drink. With “good friends” what is being referred to is the value that corresponds to the safety elements of any machine that touches our lives (‘machine’ also includes equipment). Just like unconditional companions, they are always there, to get us out of a bind or avoid that we get into one in the first place. This kind of bind is an accident at all levels. Shall we continue?
With any machine, the design should be inherently safe, but this is not always possible. In those cases, integrated or non-integrated complementary safety elements must be included. Here are four clarifications:
Complementary safety elements integrated in the machine
A few examples should suffice to understand what we are talking about:
- Interlock switches to detect the position of a protection. These can enable a controlled machine shut down in case a protection is removed, a door is opened,….Actions that would imply access to a risk area.
- Electro-magnetic interlocks. During a possible access to a risk area this avoids protections being removed, doors being opened,….
- Optical barriers, with shut-down and elimination of the risk upon being crossed.
- Two-hand controls, which avoid that one of the two hands remains free with possible access to a risk area. These make it necessary to keep both hands occupied.
- Emergency buttons, alias known as “mushrooms”, with controlled machine shut-down in emergency situations.
Not all the credit goes to the machine, we can also play a part, but…. how?
Non-integrated safety elements in the machines
- Using personal protective equipment (hearing protection, gloves with mechanical protection,…).
- Safe working methods.
- Adequate maintenance.
- Regulations addressing the elimination or reduction of risks.
Will the machine I buy include all the safety elements?
The first step is to make sure that the machine has the CE marking and that the manufacturer has issued the corresponding certificate. This serves as a first filter, since the CE sign indicates that it complies with all the applicable European Guidelines and that the appropriate procedures have been carried out to evaluate its conformity, which includes the safety elements.
From here on, we as buyers and users must consider the machine’s non-integrated safety elements that have been mentioned above.
I have already bought a machine and… now what?
In Rieusset we have established regular inspections to assure ourselves that these are still there, always looking out for our safety and acting when it is required of them. All it takes is to make them work and verify that they are in good shape.
We also periodically carry out safety visits in order to verify that that all the machine’s non-integrated safety measures are in compliance, such as the use of personal protection equipment, application of established standards,…
Finally, all we need to do is insist on the vital importance of these silent elements, which when you least expect them can become major players. Let’s not mistreat or manipulate them, they are good friends who we should keep in good conditions.