So it sounds like OSHA no longer does regular inspections looking for unsafe practices, in other words, proactive instead of reactive inspection. I wonder what happened to the funding for proactive inspection.
Ann, OSHA is the safety regulator in the US. I don't think OSHA has the resources to do many inspections. When a company has a serious accident, then they look closely and levy fines, etc. Companies are also required to report all work related injuries and illnesses, hence the term "OSHA Reportable". There are guidelines for what types of injuries are reported. There are also specific metrics that companies are required to report:
Total recordable cases of injuries and illnesses Injury and illness cases with days away from work, job transfer, or restriction Injury and illness cases with days away from work Injury and illness cases with days of job transfer or restriction Other recordable injury and illness cases Total injury cases
The metrics are normalized to the rate per 200,000 hours worked. These metrics are compared with other companies in the same industry. If your company stands out from the others, it is likely you will be visited by OSHA.
I thought OSHA was the main safety enforcement body in the US. When I worked at manufacturing companies in the 80s, that's who everyone worried about pleasing, especially during their very infrequent inspections. That infrequency continues to be a problem: how can they enforce safety standards without frequent enough monitoring?
Rob, Responsibility for safety is a complicated issue (especially if liability is a question) but certainly everyone shares in it. Companies deploying machines have to meet regulatory requirements (such as OSHA) and I'm sure both machine builders and automation vendors are responsible for certifying machines and components. Not sure exactly how enforcement works, but I'm sure it depends on locations and rules around the world. Big challenge for machine builders.
@Nancy Golden: Your friend is right. Chinese products have a reputation for poor quality largely because, when U.S. companies go to China, they're looking for the cheapest parts they can find. Of course, the cheapest parts you can find are usually not the best; that's true in any country, including the U.S. You get what you pay for. There are some world-class, high-quality manufacturers in China, but all too often, U.S. and other Western companies would prefer to do business with the bottom-of-the-barrel suppliers.
I have a friend who works for a company that does a lot of business with companies in China, Tim. He has always said that you can get anything manufactured in China at the highest level of quality or complexity that you desire - as long as you are willing to pay for it. I am sure they would recognize those safety standards if their buyers made it a criteria and were willing to pay for it...and if it evolved into a global standard that was enforced then they would just about have to or wouldn't have any business.
In the US, enforcement is always a problem. Buyers and end users have to be careful what they buy.
Another thing to keep in mind is that EN13849 is a European standard. The Europeans have a whole collection of pretty well thought out standards covering machine safety. Only problem is they don't meet US requirements. OSHA expects us to follow 29CFR1910.xx. OSHA also recognizes ANSI standards. In machine safety, that means NFPA 79 and the ANSI B11 series.
Another modern standard that is being harmonized with the European standards is ANSI/ISA 84 which grew out of the process control industry. It was developed to avoid another Bhopal disaster. ANSI/ISA 84 uses the concept of Safety Integrity Levels (SIL) which are assigned based upon a risk and hazard analysis process. It's interesting that the new automotive safety standard ISO26262 has the concept of Automotive SIL. The levels are A-D rather than 1-4, but the concept is the same.
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