Safety in manufacturing

I opened my Engineering Dimensions today, excited to see the cover addressing the topic of safety. Then I read the article “How safe can you really make it?” with the subtitle mentioning “engineers looking to advance a culture of safety across all industries” (November/December 2017).

Although I read this article with great interest, and applaud the efforts of all those mentioned, any mention of the manufacturing/machinery sector was glaringly absent. Considering that automotive and other manufacturing is a significant economic driver in Ontario, and that many engineers are employed by that industry, I would have hoped to see some mention of it.

Since about 2000, Regulation 851 of the OHSA has required pre-start health and safety reviews in factories for the following items: 1. flammable liquids, 2. machinery with interlocking guards, 3. racks, 4. processes involving a risk of ignition or explosion, 5. dust collectors involving a risk of ignition or explosion, 6. molten materials, 7. cranes and other lifting devices, and 8. risk of exposure above the regulated limits of biological, chemical and designated substances. PEO even had a committee and produced a guideline for engineers performing such reviews. In the time since, there have been significant changes to CSA and international safety standards, as well as the development of the concepts of “functional safety.” At present, it is possible for engineers to take functional safety certification courses in the areas of both process and machinery. I suggest the author do some more research and write a follow-up article.

Anthony Kerstens, P.Eng., Aurora, ON