Machine safety: are strict standards enough to avoid accidents?

& horbar; Despite the improvements in safety, the risk of machinery in the company persistently affects a high number of deaths at work. We often hear about accidents caused by industrial machinery and plant. Are we really doing what we can to limit the “damage”?

Machines continue to represent one of the most recurring elements in accident dynamics. For this reason, it is right to question the causes of these accidents and what can still be done to support prevention in the workplace.

Are we really sure that enough is being done? Do industrial plants follow all applicable rules and directives? Are the staff trained to use the machines really properly trained?

Machine safety: the absolute minimum

Persistently a high number of deaths caused by industrial machinery and plant should lead to in-depth consideration of the scope of the figures. Because it’s not just about numbers or just about people. This is a much broader concept, which refers to a safety culture that has been dormant for too many years, in Italy as elsewhere.

When one is up to date on the safety of machinery, a number of questions should begin to be asked, also in the light of the increased penalties (seizure without damage) introduced by Act 215 of 2021.

E.g:

  1. Does each machine used in the company comply with the provisions of Annex V to Legislative Decree 81/08 for non-Community machinery and the Machinery Directive for Community machinery?
  2. For each machine, there must be a residual risk assessment in terms of compliance. Are residual risks and related control measures communicated to the machine operators? Have the correct methods of use and safe maintenance been defined?
  3. Before operators begin their work, have they shown that they understand and know how to take all the necessary safety precautions? Is there therefore a litmus test after the training process, or is it enough to obtain the certificate for the management of an industrial vehicle / machinery?
  4. Do the actual conditions of the machines correspond exactly to those at the time of the risk assessment? Are periodic inspections and scheduled maintenance performed?
  5. Is there a self-inspection of the employees and a maintenance request not only in case of failure but also on condition?

These 5 questions and their answers represent the basis without which it is impossible to continue the operation safely. But are we sure that’s enough?

Is the conformity of the machines sufficient not to cause accidents?

If one were to give a realistic answer, it would certainly be negative. Even compatible machines continue to cause damage. What is the reason?
A first explanation could be that points 3 and 4 in the previous section have been performed superficially or are not respected.
But that is not always the case.

There are also moments of operator failure, unforeseen situations that require original and improvised decisions, cognitive failures that lead to unimaginable mistakes.
And the question therefore arises: is the worker resistant to these conditions?

Some certainly do, others obviously less. But everyone’s skills can certainly be trained in a fitness center with continuous updating, useful for increasing the level of personal safety and also the work environment.

Practicing understanding the contexts, reading and interpreting the signals to have a premonition of events, to rationally analyze the countermeasures, to adopt them independently in the hope of success are all measures that fall within the operator’s “management” sphere. Which, if not sufficiently characterized by similar reasoning and modus operandi, can fall into the uncertainty trap.

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