Rockwell Machine Safety Maturity ModelI’m wrapping up my coverage of the EHS Today Safety Leadership Conference held last week in Greenville, SC. I covered the Technology Track sponsored by Rockwell Automation.

Steve Ludwig, safety program manager at Rockwell Automation, presented on the impact of the evolving workforce on safety.

Workforce changes

“We are facing a shortage of skilled workforce, and it is a global issue,” began Ludwig. “The average age of skilled worker is 56,  and this demographic is prone not to delay retirement. Add to this the fact that birth rates have declined for the last 35 years, so we do not have the usual situation of increasing population to fuel economic growth.

There are now more inexperienced workers who are more at risk. This is not just a situation for your plant, but also for the plants of all your suppliers. Businesses face supply chain interruption, reputational / brand risk. Businesses face not only an aging workforce that may be prone to injury, but also a younger, less experience workforce that tend to have more frequent acute injuries.

When Ludwig asked attendees, “How do we improve with a changing workforce?” most responded that they were proactively going out to schools to recruit and evangelize manufacturing. They were also assuming much responsibility for helping train young people.

Connected enterprise for safety

Jeff Winter of system integrator Grantek discussed connecting the enterprise for safety. He noted a problem that continues to exist is that dashboards rely on manual data collection and input.

There are three “Eras” of safety technology–initially just preventing access; then detecting access (something that increased both safety and productivity); today controlling access (integrated safety into machine, about as productive as you can get).

“EHS must get a chair at the table when data collection and analysis are being discussed in the plant or company,” he concluded. Winter continued with this advice, “Ask for data on actions such as emergency stops, intrusions, shut downs.”

Beyond lockout, tagout

Turning to electrical safety specifically, Jimi Michalscheck business development manager for safety looked at going beyond Lockout Tagout (LOTO). His point was how to balance safety with production. He posited a system of engineered safety control, which he called a new way of addressing LOTO.

“If you haven’t designed an alternative, then you must use LOTO (OSHA). To prevent unexpected restart of the equipment during service from causing harm to employees.”

Engineering safe alternatives. Think of your machine as simple components. For example, a case packer. Notorious for frequent need for getting into it, so also for citations. Using Alternative Protective Measure (APM), design the machine in components. Task specific, area specific, documented (know that the service area is protected for the reach of the worker). APM developed must provide the same or greater level of protection as LOTO in order to comply with CFR1910.147.

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