The Safety Center approach to Task-based Risk Assessment

When we polled our clients regarding the major obstacles to making a safety program work, we received the following statements:

Operators feel they are always being asked to do something that takes away from getting their job done. Safety is one of those things. Machine Safety is not understood by the majority of the people affected by the safeguards.
Safety Incentive Programs don’t work.

So we set about trying to help and added a twist to what we knew should always be at the center of a good safety program – risk assessment. In 1999 risk assessment evolved into “task-based” risk assessment due to input from several major manufacturers on the RIA Standards safety committee. The input said that you need to consider the task, because that is the perspective from which the hazard has meaning. The person doing the task has the perspective and should be respected, included and given some ownership in their own safety. Safety Center found an easy way to do this.

We discovered something else when we talked with EHS Managers and Safety Team members at our clients. There is a nearly universal problem with cooperation and commitment to safety programs.

When safety process contributors like setup, material handling, operator, maintenance and engineering personnel are not included in key decisions regarding their own safety, they don’t cooperate fully. Often this leads to bypassing or removing safeguards. Frequently, they don’t show up or pay attention in safety meetings. After all, they have no say. Worse is when a company treats safety as a necessary evil that sucks productivity and profit out of a manufacturing effort.

When you use Safety Center software to address task-based risk assessment, for the first time all safety people with tasks associated with the robot, who can use a browser, will have access to the risk assessment. This access and inclusion in the safety process with such a key tool immediately makes everyone respected as a key member of the “Safety Team”. It gives the “task” person ownership of how that task is viewed with regards to hazards, severity, exposure, avoidance and the type of safeguards selected for mitigating the risk to an acceptable level. They are even asked, “Do you consider this an acceptable level of risk.” This approach generates ownership, is priceless and greatly contributes to making safety a profit center.