Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Are You Actually ISOLATING Your Electrical Energy?


When we inspect equipment, one of the things we always check is the presence and state of the electrical disconnect.  You may ask why this is important, after all, it is just a switch. However, a proper disconnect allows your workers to follow safety procedures. Any time a worker must enter a hazard zone outside of normal operation, such as during set up, adjustment, cleaning and maintenance tasks, the machine shall be locked out. If a machine does not have an accessible, lockable isolation point how will your workers perform lockout? Your workers are not given the tools they need to work safely.


Control switches do not isolate the flow of energy, they only interrupt it. It is crucial to ensure you are using a device that actually isolates the energy by maintaining sufficient physical space between contactors, eliminating the chance for a fused or arced contact and accidental start up.


Old disconnects allow the switch to be locked in both the ON and OFF positions. Having this functionality opens up the possibility for someone to make a mistake. We have seen it happen before, an experienced worker accidentally locks the machine ON instead of OFF. That is why it is required to have disconnects that are lockable in the OFF position only.


Take a walk through your shop and look for the following on each machine:


  1. Does the machine have a disconnect to isolate power?
  2. Is the disconnect is good working condition?
  3. Is the disconnect labelled?
  4. Is the disconnect accessible?
  5. Is the disconnect lockable in the off position only?
electrical disconnect lockable in on and off
This disconnect is lockable in the on & off positions.
electrical switch not isolation    push button lockout not isolation
These controls interupt energy but do not isolate.
electrical disconnect lockable on only  electrical disconnect lockable on only
These are proper electrical isolation disconnects.



Monday, October 07, 2019

New S2 Safety Partnership

We are very excited to announce a new partnership with S2 Safety, an industry-based safety association in Manitoba.  S2 Safety is a central resource to support safe, productive workplaces in the sales and service sectors. Workplace Engineering Solutions believes that safe and productive workplaces are critical to the success of Manitoba’s service-based industries.  Workplace Engineering Solutions specializes in machine safety with the belief that every machine incident is preventable and we are thrilled to partner with S2 Safety to support this vision.

S2 Safety members will have the opportunity to access machine safety expertise through Workplace Engineering Solutions at a special S2 Safety rate. We offer machine safety audits, certifications, lockout program assistance as well as machine-specific training opportunities. We understand that many S2 Safety members have very small machine shops and therefore we have created a special mini audit with that in mind. Our services can help companies to meet certain goals within the SAFE Work Certification process.

For further information or assistance with your machine safety opportunities, send a message to  You can also visit and for further information.

S2 Safety Logo

Monday, September 09, 2019

Company Spotlight: Canam Group

Canam Group is a fabricator of steel components used in construction projects and has been doing this work since 1961.  They take part in an average of 10,000 construction projects each year.  Their products and solutions are produced in plants all over North America.  We’ve had the privilege of working with them the last year and getting to know more about their commitment to safety.

We began in their Calgary plant with the WESguard service and now we are using WESguard in 6 of their plants in North America.  From our first work with them in the Calgary plant, the culture of getting all stake holders involved was evident.  During our visit, operations, maintenance, health and safety, human resources, and machine operators all were involved and gave us input as we reviewed the equipment.  This group involvement and sharing of information continued as we visited and worked with other plants in Mississauga, Point of Rocks, Jacksonville, Washington, and Buckeye.  Canam is a firm believer in Identify Hazards, Control Risks and then Avoid Incidents.  At each plant our job was made so much easier by this atmosphere.

What’s impressed us about Canam is the way they have developed a larger strategy for safety and sharing of information to make the task of reducing risk more effective and efficient.  Regular calls and sharing of best practices have helped them move forward and see results in improvement of machine safety.  WESguard has been there to work and support that effort.  Our goal was to ensure collaboration at each plant with the different departments, collaborate with us to ensure the actions from the audit are completed in the most effective and efficient manner, and finally to collaborate with the other plants to leverage solutions from one plant to help another.  Canam has made a strong commitment to safety and it shows in the results they have seen working on reducing risk.

Monday, September 09, 2019

Proactive Safety Inspections

Recently we came across this blog by Lancaster Safety Consulting talking about proactive safety inspections. That's something we have always felt is an important part of a strong safety program. Take a look here:


Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Machine Safety Strategy

When we develop our machine safety strategy, the first question is whether we want to focus on risk or compliance.  Both are important and should be considered but take this into consideration.

Risk: Using a risk assessment you’ve identified issues with the process that need improved controls.  You want to install new controls but will need to design and integrate them into the system.

Compliance:  You have the right controls, but they don’t meet a standard or regulation.  You will need to correct them in order to truly say the controls comply.

The challenge with risk is that these are usually longer-term items that require quite a bit of input from operators, maintenance and vendors to ensure the correct application of the controls.  The challenge with compliance is that although required, in most cases they don’t change the risk since the controls were already in place.  When working on a machine safety program its always important to make progress, even if its small improvements every day.  When we aren’t making improvements, it could look to the organization that safety is not important, even though lots of work is happening in the background.

We recommend a hybrid approach where both risk and compliance are filters to select action items to work on.  Compliance are usually more straight forward items with clear scope, and coupled with risk items can be used to demonstrate progress and also show the correct application of the risk items so that end users understand what will be required to install and can give more valuable feedback.


Risk assessments made easy.
The #1 factor in an effective machine safety program.
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