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European Machinery Isn't Safer

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RoberGP
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Iron
Re: Machine Safety
RoberGP   8/10/2011 9:45:37 AM
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Sorry, I forgot the link.

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:1989:183:0001:0008:EN:PDF

RoberGP
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Iron
Re: Machine Safety
RoberGP   8/10/2011 9:44:02 AM
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"The European model for safety puts the burden of protecting the users on the machinery manufacturer."

"The US model for safety puts the burden on the end user company; the company must provide a safe workplace for its employees."

I recommend everybody to read the Section II of the 89/131/CEE Directive. Employer's Obligations.

Jack Rupert, PE
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Platinum
Re: Machine Safety
Jack Rupert, PE   7/17/2011 5:16:57 PM
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The example you gave here in the article is another fine demonstration that all the safety devices and regulations in the world are not going to solve the problems if common sense is not applied.  Unfortunately, nobody's passed a simple regulation yet that says (to the user) "Don't be dumb".

Dave Palmer
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Platinum
Re: Machine safety
Dave Palmer   7/15/2011 6:27:06 PM
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As much as we like to complain about the litigious nature of U.S. society (I once lost my job thanks to a outrageous tort settlement which bankrupted the company I worked for) it does have some advantages.  It helps trial lawyers become very rich, and occasionally destroys companies which have done nothing wrong, while rewarding stupidity - but it also helps deter companies from doing things they shouldn't.

When I worked as a quality manager at one former employer (not the one which went bankrupt, by the way), bringing up the possibility of lawsuits if defective parts were to make it into the field was sometimes the only way to force upper management to sit up and take notice of quality issues they might have preferred to ignore.   Regretably, many companies will sacrifice quality in order to save a few pennies per part, unless they have the threat of a multimillion dollar lawsuit hanging over their heads if anyone gets hurt.  All of a sudden those pennies start to look insignificant.

The system may be crazy, but that doesn't mean it's always wrong.  I suspect T.J. is probably right about the safety of European machinery versus U.S. machinery.  If so, we have our crazy legal system to thank.

TJ McDermott
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Blogger
Re: Machine safety
TJ McDermott   7/14/2011 8:07:41 PM
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Charles, comparing one country's safety to another is done all the time here.  The safety seminars I attend discuss the liability US companies face if they sell machines that conform to one standard of safety to be sold in the EU, and another standard of safety in the USA.

The implication is that if someone were to be hurt by the machine built to USA standards, the plaintiff would have a strong case by asking; "why wasn't the better safety design used?"

My point is that the EU model for safety (burden of safety is on the machine supplier) fails if the machinery manufacturer misses something.  The CE mark on the side is invalid then.  The USA model for safety adds an additional layer of responsibility, that of the end-user company to provide a safe work place for its workers.  The lawsuits that arise from work-place injuries always name the employer and the equipment manufacturer.  They're both liable.

Charles Murray
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Blogger
Re: Machine safety
Charles Murray   7/14/2011 10:54:28 AM
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Standards bodies and safety agencies everywhere are notoriously slow to comprehend and fix safety issues. I don't know how one would go about comparing one continent's safety standards to another's. As Doug so accurately points out: The best policy is always "buyer beware."

Douglas Smock
User Rank
Platinum
Machine safety
Douglas Smock   7/14/2011 10:24:26 AM
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The standard-setting bureaucracy, either here or in Europe, is indeed baffling at times. It seems like an ASTM committee can spend 18 months to come up with a definition of something that seems pretty obvious. Safety standards play an important baseline role. They set a foundation. But my takeaway from your post is that the old law applies: caveat emptor. Just because something has a fancy label stamped on it (European, Japanese, Chinese or American) doesn't necessarily mean squat if you're not careful and continue to take the prudent measures you always should.

Alexander Wolfe
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Blogger
Meeting standards or meeting safety
Alexander Wolfe   7/14/2011 10:18:01 AM
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As you point out, TJ, it's not about meeting the letter of the standard as much as it is implmenting it in true spirit. It's analogous to security, where you can tweak your IT infrastructure so you pass a security audit, or you can do things which really protect you against hackers. The two aren't mutually exclusive, and don't have to be. The problem arises -- and it's the same case with the unified standards that apply to machinery -- because the standards often impose such a large cost that there's no money left over to do the "real" stuff too (and meeting the std is prioritized over "real") because then you're in a (finanically) losing situation. I should add that this whole back and forth only really comes into play because the real world is a moving target, while standards take time (eons) to create and agree up, and often by the time they're released the "real" world has passed them by.

 

 

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