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.


Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Summer Machine Safety Checklist

Depending on your industry summer can be a very busy time for production or it may be a chance to clean up and perform maintenance on your equipment while production slows down.  Some of the most important work in maintaining equipment is done now.  Here are some items to look for during this time to ensure your equipment remains safe for your workers throughout the year.

1. Missing Guards:  Check for any missing guards, you may often find them under tables or on shelves.  Sometimes they are removed for service, but occasionally they might have been removed by operations.

TIP TO SUSTAIN: Find out the reason they were not replaced in the first place.  Discipling someone for removing guards is important, but finding out the why to determine how to improve the guarding is an important step. Also, if a guard is being removed for service, we recommend using captive fasteners to ensure the fasteners are not lost during this process.


2. Broken Guards: Inspect the machines for broken or damaged guards.  It’s important to repair damaged guards immediately because holes or openings might allow people to reach the hazards these guards are meant to protect them from. This is also a good time to clean dirty guards. Guard that remain dirty often cause visibility concerns and may result in the guard eventually being removed.

TIP TO SUSTAIN: Has the guard been impacted by material flying off the equipment?  If it has, update your risk assessment and look to eliminate the hazard of flying material or redesign the guard to withstand. Also, if a guard is often dirty and scratched you may want to try laminated glass instead of polycarbonate. It costs a bit more but can be more durable.

 broken mising machine guard

3. Lockout Points: During this time of service, many of the equipment will need to be locked out.  This is a good time to inspect the lockout points and ensure they are working. Broken electrical disconnects and lack of proper lockout equipment are common failures.

TIP TO SUSTAIN: This is a great time to observe a complete lockout of the equipment.  Update your lockout procedures and look for flaws in the process.


4. Machine Controls:  Test out the start/stop and emergency stops.  Make sure they are all working and correctly labelled.  Are they doing what they are supposed to do?

TIP TO SUSTAIN:  Have an operator activate the emergency stop, is it readily accessible, or do they have to think and reach for it. Ensure the button is not shrouded.


This is not a comprehensive list of items to check for, just some tips to get you started.  If you have any questions, or want some help in evaluating your current safeguards feel free to contact us. WESguard now has a built-in inspection tool to help you sustain your machine safeguarding, contact us for a free demo.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Asset Management Strongly Linked to Safety Culture

We had the privilege of spending Friday with a wonderful group of asset management professions in Winnipeg and we were pleased to find that safety was a key topic that repeatedly came up in presentations and discussions throughout the day. PEMAC stands for “Plant Engineering Maintenance Association of Canada”, and is a not for profit association providing global leadership, education and certification in maintenance, reliability and asset management practices. They launched a Winnipeg chapter in 2017 and held their first event, the Asset Management Manitoba Summit (AMMS) to a sold-out crowd on Friday at the Viscount Gort. There were numerous presentations and panel discussions covering topics such as IOT, CMMS, supply chain, risk management and asset life cycle.

Kristin was invited to speak on a panel discussion about overcoming risks facing manufacturing companies along with Richard Reid (Supply Chain Management Association), Bob Latino (Reliability Center Inc), Rob Kalwarowsky (Rob’s Reliability Project) and Roma Thorlakson (Roma Thorlakson Executive Search). The discussion centred around managing risk through a proactive approach and focusing on soft skill development to aid in selling your priorities to upper management.

A proactive safety/maintenance/planning culture where current state is well-documented, priorities are identified, and action is taken not out of a forced necessity but out of a desire to be world-class will result in a strong business and a culture that values its people. In a competitive industry where the attraction and retention of good, qualified workers is imperative, centering your organization around valuing your employees is a necessity and will result in the most successful business model.

A strong theme throughout the discussion was the importance of being able to sell your ideas. In an environment where production and throughput are paramount, it can be difficult to take the time to be proactive in maintenance planning and risk reduction. However, we all know that by not taking that time now, you will set yourself up for failure in the long-term. Having the technical skills to know what needs to be done to maintain your assets is just as imperative as knowing how to sell those philosophies to the decision-makers. Growing your communication skills and using persuasive visual tools can help you achieve your goals.

The day rounded-off with a delicious dinner and comedic entertainment. We would like to thank PEMAC Winnipeg Chapter for an enjoyable day and look forward to seeing everyone at the next event.

Overcomming risks facing manufacturing companies

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

NAOSH Week Success Story: Decor Cabinets

Décor Cabinets put on an amazing week of events of activities and speakers.  While we were at Décor we talked about machine audits using WESguard.  We looked at how risk assessments work and talked about an important concept of how to use the Hierarchy of Controls.

People often start at the bottom of the Hierarchy of Controls.  They start with Personal Protective Equipment.  If you know the Hierarchy of Controls, the effectiveness decreases as you move down the chart.  Why do we do that, because sometimes it’s the easiest solution to implement.  Someone is encountering a hazard, we want to protect them, and we want to do it quick.  Nothing wrong with this call to action, but sometimes in can lead to more work than we originally think.



But think of this cycle.  We get the PPE, now we need to size, train and upkeep the PPE.  We then write a procedure, that needs to be reviewed, trained, and signed off.  We get awareness stickers that wear off, and we devote resources to designing guards and other safeguarding item We make drawings and test and build prototypes.

What if we took the time to figure out if we can eliminate or substitute the hazard?  Then it is gone, and what do we need to do to sustain that?  Not much, just keep our risk assessment up to date.  Easier said then done sometimes, but worth the effort for the dramatic difference in effort to sustain.

Think about this the next time you tackle a problem.  Also check out


Monday, April 01, 2019

Machine Specific Lockout Procedures

Machine Specific Lockout Procedures exist because every piece of equipment is different.  Operators, Maintenance and other workers that interact with the equipment need to know step by step how to safely isolate energy and prevent machine incidents.

The procedures should include a diagram showing the location of each lockout point and pictures of how to lockout each energy source. Operators should be trained on the specific lockout procedures for their own equipment and the procedures should be posted at the machine for quick and easy reference.

The general steps in a lock out procedure should include:

1.       Proper shut down of the equipment,

2.       Isolate the energy sources,

3.       Apply a lock to all energy sources,

4.       Relieve any stored energy from the equipment, and

5.      Verify that the lock out is effective. 

Machine specific lock out procedures are beneficial for a number of reasons:

1.       Provide visual instruction which is beneficial for all employees but especially for those of whom English is not their first language.

2.       Clearly indicate where all lock out points are located.

3.       Describe how to properly verify that the energy is isolated.

4.       Ensure that ALL lock out points are addressed. Some machines have multiple energy sources that could be easily missed.

Contact us with any questions about Machine Specific Lockout.

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