Machine Safety: Is upgrading to solid state enough?

Moving machine guarding solutions to solid-state-based components from hard-wired components has been a persistent U.S. discussion since 2002. Are solid-state components enough to provide effective machine safety and personnel safety?


The overwhelming discussion since 2002 in the U.S. has been about moving machine guarding solutions to solid state based components from hard wired components. To provide effective machine safety and personnel safety – is this enough?


It’s been my observation since 2002 that the majority of all the chatter in industry has been focused around promotional campaigns for firmware and software based safety certified products for machine guarding. True, the door opened in the U.S. in 2002 for these products based on the 2002 change in NFPA 79 removing the requirement for all machine guarding devices to be hard wired. This standard also added the requirement that safety rated software and firmware based products used in safety-related functions shall be listed for such use. Naturally these changes fueled the supply channel and listing organizations for these products to launch major go-to-market selling and marketing campaigns. Yet, industry is still required to provide effective machine safety and personnel safety as required by OSHA and the industry standards. Therefore, is migrating your machine safety strategy to solid state enough?


In my opinion, and most industry experts in the field, the answer would be definitely not.


I’ve got a few reasons as to why migrating to solid state is not enough. And, I’ll bet that you can add several more. To begin with, isn’t upgrading your machine guarding to solid state simply one step any company should consider? Isn’t there a larger question that the supply channel typically doesn’t address in their promotional campaigns, i.e.:

1.    Is your safety culture best-in-class?

2.    Does your line and staff cadre openly accept and encourage change?

3.    Do you have an effective preventative maintenance program in place?

4.    Do your production & maintenance employees feel engaged?

5.    Do your employees take ownership for your machine safety culture?


Remember the real organizational gotcha – “we haven’t had an accident for a long time, so we’re safe”?


So, what’s your opinion? Is migrating your machine safety strategy to solid state enough?


Your comments or suggestion are always welcome so please let us know your thoughts. Submit your ideas, experiences, and challenges on this subject in the comments section below.


J.B. Titus, CFSERelated articles:

Machine Guarding & The Hierarchy of Measures for Hazard Mitigation

Machine Safety: Is OSHA okay with my 'acceptable' risk mitigation?

Machine safety: A social responsibility or KPI?

Machine Safety: the myths of safety cultures.

Machine Safety: Updating Minds About Machine Safety


Contact: 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.
Salary survey: How much are you worth?; Dedicated outdoor air systems; Energy models and lighting
Fire, life safety in schools; Fire protection codes; Detection, suppression, and notification; 2015 Commissioning Giants; Emergency and standby power in hospitals
HVAC and building envelope: Efficient, effective systems; Designing fire sprinkler systems; Wireless controls in buildings; 2015 Product of the Year winners
Designing positive-energy buildings; Ensuring power quality; Complying with NFPA 110; Minimizing arc flash hazards
Implementing microgrids: Controlling campus power generation; Understanding cogeneration systems; Evaluating UPS system efficiency; Driving data center PUE, efficiency
Optimizing genset sizing; How the Internet of Things affects the data center; Increasing transformer efficiency; Standby vs. emergency power in mission critical facilities
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.