Sick's free guide to machinery safety - a review

30 September 2008

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Sick's free guide to machinery safety - a reviewSick is publishing a new free guide to machinery safety. This 120-page, full-colour A4 book, known as Guidelines - Safe Machinery, presents six steps to achieving a safe machine, and is certainly more comprehensive than some of the other free guides available on this important subject. In addition to the six steps, the guide includes information on laws, directives, standards and responsibilities. Separate versions of the guide are available for companies operating in the European, North American and Asian regions.

Step 1 - Risk assessment

This section of the guide explains the need for a risk assessment, the applicable standard, and the general principles involved in the risk assessment process. It then goes into more detail about the functions of the machine, hazard identification, risk estimation and evaluation, and documentation. Also included is a page that outlines the Safexpert software package and how it can be used not only for risk assessment but also the entire conformity process required for compliance with the requirements of the Machinery Directive.

Steps 2 to 4 - Risk reduction

These sections guide the reader through the 'Three-Step Method' of risk reduction, namely:

  1. Safe design: elimination or minimisation of residual risks as far as possible
  2. Technical protective measures: take the necessary protective measures against risks that cannot be eliminated by design
  3. User information on residual risks

Within the three corresponding sections there are illustrations and examples, as well as useful information relating to machine design such as colours for controls and indicators, and IP (ingress protection) ratings.

Also included is an introduction to EN 954-1 Safety Categories, EN ISO 13849-1 Performance Levels and EN 62061 Safety Integrity Levels, plus guidance on selecting the correct type of electrosensitive protection equipment (ESPE) in line with the requirements of EN 61496-1. A good deal of detail is also provided relating to the selection and use of other safety measures, such as guards and light curtains, and integration of protective measures within a safety-related control system.

Just as importantly, the guide outlines methods for verifying and validating all safety functions.

Given that there are almost always some residual risks, the Sick guide also contains a sort section on user information relating to these risks.

Step 5 - Overall validation

It has to be remembered that functional safety is only one aspect of machinery safety. Step 5 therefore addresses the overall validation of the design, technical and organisational issues relating to machinery safety. Included is a useful checklist.

Step 6 - Placing on the market

For the version of the guide for the European market, this section covers completion of the documentation, the declaration of conformity and CE marking.

Responsibility of the operating organisation

This section in the guide discusses issues such as employer responsibilities, machine procurement and safety inspections.

Additional information

The final section of the guide explains the services available from Sick during a machine's life cycle, as well as listing relevant Type A, B and C standards, useful web links and a glossary of terms relating to machinery safety.

To order a copy of this free guide, go to or email Ann Attridge () or Andrea Hornby ().

Review by Jonathan Severn

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