Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Bridging the G.A.A.P.: A 7-step process to ensure a safe and productive environment

June 16, 2009
By John Murphy

In the face of increased regulatory enforcement, higher insurance costs and the desire to ensure employees have the safest working environment possible, Ontario’s manufacturers are attempting to step up to the plate.
But regulation standards can seem like a maze, especially in the world of increasingly complex and automated machinery. Manufacturers are now asking: how do we get started? How can do we do it right? How do we not break the bank in the process?
That’s where a systematic, step-by-step process can help manufacturers identify machine guarding deficiencies and find solutions. In our work, we call it the G.A.A.P (Guarding and Assessment Process). It’s a seven-step process that takes machines from a non-compliance condition to compliance. By bridging the G.A.A.P, manufacturers can have both a safe and productive environment – all within a reasonable budget.
Seven steps to safety
What does the Bridging the G.A.A.P. program entail? Outlined here are the program’s seven steps.
Step 1 – Onsite consultation
A machine guarding and safety specialist visits manufacturing site. The specialist then identifies the safety legislation and codes that apply to the application.
Step 2 – Safety assessment
Next, the safety specialist completes a detailed assessment evaluating any areas of the equipment that may not be compliant with the relevant legislation.
Step 3 – Stop time measurement
When data is not already available, the specialist takes a stop time measurement to help determine which solution best suits each application.
Step 4 – Present the solutions
The specialist presents a comprehensive and easy-to-read document that clearly identifies the deficiencies, based on the legislation and current applicable standards. The report concludes with specific suggestions for upgrading equipment, if necessary.
Step 5 – Installation
The installation crew will arrive at the manufacturer’s facility to address the installation of any new electrical, pneumatic and physical guarding equipment as recommended in the solutions document.
Step 6 – Pre-Start Health and Safety Review (PSR)
Under certain conditions, Ontario legislation requires that a professional engineer perform a Pre-Start Health and Safety Review. The machine safety specialist will help you determine when and if your application requires this formalized review. If it does, we can arrange for an independent professional engineer to provide this service.
Step 7 – Maintenance audits
At recommended intervals, the safety specialist will visit your facility to re-evaluate the safety of the equipment to ensure it continues to meet current applicable safety standards.
The program in practice
Recently, one Ontario manufacturer had a visit from an Ontario Ministry of Labour inspector. The inspector examined a 100 foot laminator line, which runs at an average speed of 500 feet per minute. The inspector cited the organization under Regulation 851, Section 25, and subsequently issued a work order requiring the manufacturer to upgrade the equipment within eight weeks.
Recognizing that this was a very large project requiring a vast amount of work within a short time frame, the manufacturer called us in for a consultation. I recommended a complete safety assessment of the line, including a stop time measurement to identify all of the deficiencies. I also recommended the company immediately implement a new safe work procedure to raise the level of safety for the production workers until we could suggest a more complete solution.
After completing the assessment and stop time measurement, I recommended a solution that included physical guards with electronic interlocks and pneumatic and hydraulic control reliable energy isolation products. Once I presented those solutions, the company implemented an interim safe work measure to allow production to continue.
Once we completed the installation, the company arranged to have a professional engineer conduct a Pre-Start Health and Safety Review.

John Murphy is the fluid power and safety manager with Vickers-Warnick and voting member of the CSA Z 142, Z 432, Z 434 and Z 560 standards. He teaches pneumatic fluid power at Mohawk College and is also a principle speaker at the “Essentials in Machine Guarding” and “Risk Assessment” seminars. He has been a guest speaker for the National Safety Council, Canadian Standards Association and the Industrial Accident Prevention Association.

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