Industrial Machine Systems Risk Assessment: A Critical Review of Concepts and Methods
Reducing the risk of work-related death and injury to machine operators and maintenance personnel poses a continuing occupational safety challenge. The risk of injury from machinery in U.S. workplaces is high. Between 1992 and 2001, there were, on average, 520 fatalities per year involving machines and, on average, 3.8 cases per 10,000 workers of nonfatal caught-in-running-machine injuries involving lost workdays.( 1) A U.S. task group recently developed a technical reference guideline, ANSI B11 TR3, “A Guide to Estimate, Evaluate, & Reduce Risks Associated with Machine Tools,” that is intended to bring machine tool risk assessment practice in the United States up to or above the level now required by the international standard, ISO 14121. The ANSI guideline emphasizes identifying tasks and hazards not previously considered, particularly those associated with maintenance; and it further emphasizes teamwork among line workers, engineers, and safety professionals. The value of this critical review of concepts and methods resides in (1) its linking current risk theory to machine system risk assessment and (2) its exploration of how various risk estimation tools translate into risk-informed decisions on industrial machine system design and use. The review was undertaken to set the stage for a field evaluation study on machine risk assessment among users of the ANSI B11 TR3 method.