Jon Severn, Editor of MachineBuilding.net, offers some useful pointers for risk assessments on machinery.
Risk assessments are key to the safety of machinery, paving the way for risk reduction measures that are both effective and economical. Here in the UK, the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSWA) states that it shall be the duty of every employer to ensure "so far as is reasonable practicable" (SFAIRP) the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees - which implies that the cost of safeguarding should be commensurate with the risks. This is not the same elsewhere, and this important phrase in British health and safety law was recently challenged by the European Commission, which claimed that the use of the phrase did not implement the Framework Directive 89/391/EEC. However, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) dismissed the European Commission's case and ordered it to pay the UK Government's costs. There is a press release about this case on the HSE's website and an article here that explains What does 'as low as reasonably practicable' mean?.
MachineBuilding.net has details of a number of companies that offer software-based utilities for performing risk assessments, as well as companies that can carry out risk assessments on a contract basis. These tend to be based on the requirements of EN ISO 14121-1, Safety of machinery. Risk assessment. Principles, which replaced and superseded EN 1050:1996 Safety of machinery - Principles for risk assessment in 2007 - see this article that explains The differences between EN 1050 and EN ISO 14121-1.
For example, Procter Machine Guarding has a useful free Risk Assessment Calculator, which is based on the contents of EN ISO 12100:2010. Built on a spreadsheet, the Risk Assessment Calculator uses checklists and look-up tables to enable risk assessments to be carried out on almost any static machinery. For each identified hazard, the user enters the data and selects values for the 'Likelihood of Occurrence,' 'Frequency of Exposure,' 'Degree of Possible Harm' and the 'Number of Persons at Risk.' A Hazard Rating Number (HRN) and Risk Level are calculated automatically, so the user can see where further action may be necessary; the displayed HRN values enable users to set priorities when not all issues can be addressed immediately.
Laidler Associates offers a more comprehensive mCom Machinery Safety Software package that covers both CE marking and PUWER assessments. This is aimed at managing risks throughout the working environment, not just machinery.
Another useful software package is available from IBF Automatisierungs und Sicherheitstechnik, known as IBF Safexpert. This software is currently (29 April 2012) at version 8.1, but you can read a review of IBF Safexpert 5.4. IBF Safexpert was developed for CE marking and incorporates an EN ISO 12100 risk assessment procedure (previously EN ISO 14121-1).
For engineers using the Sistema software for EN ISO 13849-1 Performance Level Calculations (and also for those not using Sistema), Docufy Machinery Safety is a useful tool for risk assessments and CE marking. Docufy provides a structured approach to risk assessments, plus it has other benefits such as a facility for storing data about standards and Directives, and, importantly, Docufy can be integrated with Sistema.
If you just want written guidance, there is a chapter in the Sick Six Steps to a Safe Machine that deals with risk assessment. For more information, see Sick's free guide to machinery safety - a review. Similarly, the updated Practical Guide to Machinery Safety, published by Laidler Associates, contains a section devoted to risk assessment and hazard analysis, and there is a chapter on risk assessment in the Schneider Electric Safe Machinery Handbook.
Another useful resource is the book recently published by BSI, Risk management of machinery and work equipment. As well as considering issues relating directly to the design, manufacture and use of machinery, this guide also covers corporate risk management.
Consultancy and training
For companies that would prefer to use consultants, the following companies offer this service: Conformance, Health & Safety Compliance Engineering, ISS Safety Ltd, Laidler Associates, Pilz Automation Technology, PR Safety Ltd, Smartscan, Spiers Engineering Safety (Spiers Ltd), TRL Compliance Ltd and TUV Rheinland Group.
Training is also available from many of the above organisations, plus the HSL (Health and Safety Laboratory), which is an agency of the UK's HSE (Health and Safety Executive), runs risk assessment training courses.
Machinery risk assessment standards
Several years ago EN 1050 was the risk assessment standard for machinery, but that was superseded by, first, EN ISO 14121-1, then this standard was superseded by EN ISO 12100:2010. This latter standard is harmonised to the Machinery Directive, which means that complying with it is not a legal requirement but will normally be sufficient to meet the applicable Essential Health and Safety Requirements of the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC. Note that the Machinery Directive only applies in Europe, and the current standard is identical to ISO 12100:2010, which is an international standard, so machine builders exporting to other countries should be able to use this standard and be confident of meeting their obligations regarding machinery risk assessments. For more information, see this article: EN ISO 12100:2010 combines EN ISO 12100 and EN ISO 14121-1.
Additional news and information will be added to this online guide to machinery risk assessment as it becomes available.
Jon Severn, Editor, MachineBuilding.net