Automation does not equal a 100% safe work environment. Safety is always a factor when it comes to industrial automation systems, especially those that involve humans working closely with robotic systems and fast-moving heavy machinery.
Besides a decrease in injuries and incidents, automation safety solution benefits include:
- Increased efficiency: when workers can work more confidently beside collaborative robots and automated systems, they work more quickly. Your output will likely increase once ample safety measures have been put into place.
- Employee satisfaction: employees who feel that their safety is important to management stay longer and produce better.
- Reduced costs: businesses can save millions per year in worker’s compensation incidents, lost time, potential OSHA violations and fines, and decreased productivity that come along with workplace accidents.
- Fewer shutdowns: when an incident occurs, production lines are always shut down. In some cases, entire production floors and facilities are put on temporary hold. Proper automation safety heavily reduces these impactful incidents.
Management must be aware of the sources of safety hazards which may include:
- Human errors of integration and/or programming
- Control system errors
- Unauthorized access
- Mechanical failures
- Time pressure
- Environmental sources
- Power system failures or malfunctions
- Improper assembly and installation
According to OSHA, “in order to protect workers involved in [automation] industries, employers should implement a safeguarding strategy as follows, using a hierarchy of controls.”
While proper installation of automation solutions, employee training and practical production goals vastly reduce safety hazards, there are diverse safety solutions that can easily be implemented not only to keep employees safe but keep production moving.
- Organizational measures including safe working procedures, supervision, permit-to-work systems and provided PPE for employees.
- Procedure and safety training of workers prior to, during and after installation of automation systems.
- Safeguarding devices such as fixed barriers, industrial framing or interlocked barrier guards
- Awareness devices such as chain or rope barriers with supporting stanchions or flashing lights, signs, whistles and horns.
- Implementation of safety features in the design of the system itself including emergency stop devices, safety door switches, light curtains, laser scanners and more.
It’s not all about the products that you choose, you can also further increase safety at your facility through:
- Enhanced employee training: consistent training reminds employees of safety best practices as well as those associated with using the machinery they work with.
- Maintenance: ensuring that your automation components are clean, up to date, and in good working order can reduce injuries as well as the number of times employees have to interact with them throughout the day.
- Risk assessment: trying to envision what can go wrong with an automation application, based on what you know about the components, allows you to predict risks and take measures to mitigate them.
Building a safety plan takes time and the right products. We can help you select the right automation safety products based on your application. Get in touch with the automation experts at Motion Ai today.