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Understanding the Machine Safety Development Process: A Guide for Companies

David Kerr
Posted by David Kerr on Apr 27, 2023 2:30:00 PM

When it comes to machine safety development, it can be a struggle to know where to start. But through many years of experience, we know a systematic process covering all aspects of machine safety is critical to ensure the well-being of employees, protect equipment and products, and avoid costly accidents. Let's explore the machine safety development step-by-step process in this video with Chris Brogli, Global Vice President of Safety Business Development at Ross Controls, and keep reading below!



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Machine Safety Development Process | Why Start with a Risk Assessment? 

Who Should Be Involved? | What Risks Are Assessed? 

Functional Specification | Why is Design Verification Best Practice? | Contact Us!



What is the Machine Safety Development Process? 

The machine safety development process creates a documented and systematic process of ensuring safe procedures are maintained at all times.


Step 1: Risk Assessment - Process of evaluating potential hazards that should be addressed.

Step 2: Functional Specification Development- Defines how the system needs to operate and run in every mode of operation.

Step 3: Selection Mitigation or Risk Reduction Devices - This will depend entirely on your application, but the largest factors involved are often cost and application fit.

Step 4: System Design - Looking at the best ways to integrate the selected devices into your current system.

Step 5: System Installation - Integrate the designed system.

Step 6: System Validation - The documented process of testing that ensures the efficacy of the design and installation.


Essentially, the machine safety development process is a comprehensive way to evaluate and address potential hazards throughout the manufacturing process.


  1. Why Start with a Risk Assessment?

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Risk assessments are a systematic process of identifying potential risks. If you don't do a true assessment, you may not identify all the potential risks. For example, the video refers to an example of a young EHS manager who saw a hazard and immediately put a guard in place without doing a proper assessment. A few days later, he found the guard had been removed. When he asked his employees why they moved the guard, they said, "Because we couldn't do our job with it in the way." A risk assessment would have identified that. 



Machine Safety Risk Assessment

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Safety Risk Assessments


  1. Who Should Be Involved?

leaving-queue_hires copyTo conduct a comprehensive risk assessment, it's important to involve a variety of personnel. This includes the operators who interact with the machine on a regular basis, as well as those involved in cleaning, maintenance, troubleshooting, and repair. It's essential to evaluate each mode of operation, so you can identify all the tasks associated with each mode, and with each person involved. This way, all risks can be identified and addressed properly.


  1. What Risks Are Assessed?

Most of the time, people only look at normal operations when they do their risk assessment, but they ignore the abnormal situations, such as when a machine jams or when a changeover or cleaning is required. At the end of the day, All sources of potential energy should be evaluated and looked at during the risk assessment, including hydraulics, pneumatics, electronics, gravity, etc.


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Why is Functional Specification Necessary?

Document Management_512pxA functional specification determines what needs to happen during normal production to gain the most productivity out of the machine while also making it safer. A functional specification is necessary because it defines how the machine needs to operate for each mode of operation. For example, it might define the needs when the machine is in manual mode and when it's in teaching mode. Each mode of operation should have a functional spec. defining what the safety needs are; that way, it's designed into the system. 


Why is Design Verification a Best Practice?

Control Liver_512pxDesign verification allows companies to calculate what Performance Level (PL) or Safety Integrity Level (SIL) they're achieving before they buy the first component. It keeps companies from wasting money and resources by ensuring that they're purchasing components that meet their needs and are safe for their employees.



The machine safety development process is critical for ensuring the well-being of employees, protecting equipment and products, and avoiding costly accidents. You should start with a risk assessment, involve personnel from all modes of operation, assess all sources of potential energy, and develop functional specifications for each mode of operation. Then you can efficiently address your needs by selecting the proper mitigation devices, integrating them into your system, and going through the validation process to ensure all of the risks were addressed, and the safety measures put into place actually work. By implementing these steps, you can ensure that their manufacturing processes are as safe as possible.


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Topics: Machine Safety, Explainers, EHS

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