Machine Safety: Domestic U.S. versus international standards

For machine safety, who needs to follow OSHA regulations, domestic standards, and various state and local requirements? Are you confused? Explanations follow.

07/26/2013


Which machine safety regulations apply in the U.S.?

- Some say that compliance with OSHA regulations and domestic standards plus state and local requirements are the primary responsibilities within the U.S.

- Others say that compliance with OSHA regulations, international standards and a few domestic standards plus state and local requirements are the primary responsibilities within the U.S. 

U.S. and European models of machine safety compliance differ, explains J.B. Titus.Are you confused? Has anybody ever come across a Cliff Notes document that explains the relativity of domestic standards versus international standards for compliance within the U.S.? 

I suspect the answer to this question is probably no, otherwise there would be far less confusion. In my experience there are at least two answers – the simple answer and the murky answer. 

Simple - domestic companies that have all of facilities within the U.S. generally focus at the U.S. domestic standards for compliance. This generally also applies for compliance to machines manufactured for U.S.-based customers. However, machines for export out of the U.S. will likely be required to comply with international standards. This compliance requirement is usually specified in the purchase documentation. 

Murky - Domestic companies that have facilities in the U.S. and international locations often choose to be compliant with the international standards for uniformity. However, the U.S. facilities will often also be compliant to the domestic standards. Their international facilities will likewise usually be compliant with country and local requirements. 

This issue could be somewhat confusing in part because of the enforcement for compliance and inconsistent messaging from suppliers. U.S. domestic suppliers tend to promote the simple message to the market and the larger/international suppliers tend to promote the international (or murky) message. Furthermore, our enforcement model is quite confusing. OSHA is the law and they focus on their 29 CFR Regulations plus reserving the right to reference certain domestic standards. But U.S. enforcement doesn’t end here.

Litigation in court is another form of enforcement following an unfortunate incident or injury. In this playing field both domestic and international standards are used every day by lawyers. They can do this because the U.S. has delegates from industry, organizations, education, and other sectors who participate on the International standards committees representing the U.S. Therefore, lawyers argue that U.S. industry participates in international standards, and that they should also be in compliance with these standards. This often results in a settlement out of court if the international standard has a requirement that could have prevented the incident. 

I hope that helps. So, are you more or less confused now? 

Has this presented you with any new perspectives? Add your comments or thoughts to the discussion by submitting your ideas, experiences, and challenges in the comments section below. 

J.B. Titus, CFSE

Related articles:

Machine safety: Shared responsibility

Inside Machines: Does adopting ISO 13849-1:2006 change the U.S. model for compliance and enforcement?

Machine Safety – does OSHA reference consensus standards for compliance? 

Contact: http://www.jbtitus.com for “Solutions for Machine Safety”.



No comments
Consulting-Specifying Engineer's Product of the Year (POY) contest is the premier award for new products in the HVAC, fire, electrical, and...
Consulting-Specifying Engineer magazine is dedicated to encouraging and recognizing the most talented young individuals...
The MEP Giants program lists the top mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection engineering firms in the United States.
Water use efficiency: Diminishing water quality, escalating costs; Lowering building energy use; Power for fire pumps
Building envelope and integration; Manufacturing industrial Q&A; NFPA 99; Testing fire systems
Labs and research facilities: Q&A with the experts; Water heating systems; Smart building integration; 40 Under 40 winners
Maintaining low data center PUE; Using eco mode in UPS systems; Commissioning electrical and power systems; Exploring dc power distribution alternatives
Protecting standby generators for mission critical facilities; Selecting energy-efficient transformers; Integrating power monitoring systems; Mitigating harmonics in electrical systems
Commissioning electrical systems in mission critical facilities; Anticipating the Smart Grid; Mitigating arc flash hazards in medium-voltage switchgear; Comparing generator sizing software
As brand protection manager for Eaton’s Electrical Sector, Tom Grace oversees counterfeit awareness...
Amara Rozgus is chief editor and content manager of Consulting-Specifier Engineer magazine.
IEEE power industry experts bring their combined experience in the electrical power industry...
Michael Heinsdorf, P.E., LEED AP, CDT is an Engineering Specification Writer at ARCOM MasterSpec.