Industrial Safety

Avoid injuries and fines with these technological finds

Sheila Kennedy says sustainable safety is rewarded in uptime, productivity, and employee morale.

By Sheila Kennedy

Workplace safety is an imperative that is particularly challenging for manufacturers and utilities. Potential perils of all sorts must be continuously and effectively managed to avoid injuries, fines, or worse. Safety systems, hazard monitors, and incident and evacuation management tools help to mitigate the risks and consequences, while periodic safety assessments and audits reveal opportunities for continuous improvement. Sustainable safety is rewarded in uptime, productivity, and employee morale.

Assessments and audits

Evaluating and optimizing safety performance is a team effort. The new Safety Maturity Index from Rockwell Automation is a self-guided assessment tool that allows manufacturers to measure the effectiveness of the safety culture, compliance and capital across the organization and to identify areas needing improvement.

“The main thing to understand about the Safety Maturity Index concept is that safety is not a single element within a machine, plant, or organization,” says Steve Ludwig, safety programs manager at Rockwell Automation. “Safety crosses a lot of functional responsibilities, including management, EHS, and engineering. The Safety Maturity Index helps them to collaborate and understand how interdependent they are and provides a path forward to improve overall safety performance.”

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Safety audits reveal specific deficiencies. “Performing a proper machine safety audit will help to identify risk areas that can sometimes be easily mitigated with a few safety devices, such as sensors, light curtains, safety disconnects, personnel safety mats, or even physical fence guarding,” says Jeff Thomas, senior automation specialist at Graybar.

The price of a machine safety audit and new safety equipment should be kept in perspective. “That cost is minimal compared to the cost of production downtime during an accident, and most importantly the cost of an injury to plant personnel. I’ve read statistics such as there is $6 lost to downtime or personnel injury costs to every $1 spent on machine safety improvement,” explains Thomas. Graybar’s machine safety services and solutions help to minimize exposure.

Safety controls

Plant safety devices and standard control devices can reliably coexist when ODVA’s Common Industrial Protocol (CIP) is followed. The CIP Safety Specifications were recently expanded to include safe motion applications such as safe torque off and safety limited positions.

“Safe motion is a critical design objective in machine applications where motors, products, and people are in close proximity,” says Katherine Voss, president and executive director of ODVA. “Inclusion of safe motion services in CIP Safety — per the IEC standards for functional safety and safe motion, IEC-61580 and IEC-61800-5-2, respectively — will provide OEMs and end users with a comprehensive network-based control architecture that allows them to programmatically constrain motor movement within safe limits while still retaining the flexibility to reconfigure machine motions quickly for changing production needs.”

Situational awareness

Sheila Kennedy is a professional freelance writer specializing in industrial and technical topics.Sheila Kennedy is a professional freelance writer specializing in industrial and technical topics. She established Additive Communications in 2003 to serve software, technology, and service providers in industries such as manufacturing and utilities, and became a contributing editor and Technology Toolbox columnist for Plant Services in 2004. Prior to Additive Communications, she had 11 years of experience implementing industrial information systems. Kennedy earned her B.S. at Purdue University and her MBA at the University of Phoenix. She can be reached at

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When an emergency occurs, every second is critical. Industrial Scientific’s new Tango TX1 with DualSense Technology is a single gas monitor that uses redundant sensors to detect carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. It is compatible with the company’s iNet Gas Detection as a Service solution.

“iNet — a subscription-based gas detection program — gives you peace of mind that your equipment is properly maintained and serviced, that you are able to provide required records on demand, and that your workers are kept safe from hazardous gases,” says Dave Wagner, Industrial Scientific’s global director of product knowledge and iNet product manager.

To optimize emergency response, AeroScout’s Evacuation Monitoring solution includes a visual online dashboard that shows where each person is on a facility map, indicates when each person has reached a mustering area or safety zone, and provides integrated man-down alerting and tracking capabilities.

“Unlike passive RFID solutions, which require close proximity to dedicated readers, AeroScout leverages a site’s existing Wi-Fi infrastructure to provide real-time visibility into the location and status of all personnel, contractors, and visitors during emergencies or drills,” says Bret Small, industrial VP of technical services at AeroScout. “That location information, combined with our Evacuation Monitoring dashboards and visual maps, facilitates a site’s compliance with government regulations such as MSHA, ATEX 137, and DSEAR.”

A new cloud service combines Witt O’Brien’s CommandPro Incident Command System (ICS) software with Esri’s ArcGIS Online Common Operational Picture (COP) for relevant geographic information and analytics. The solution aligns real-time data with automated emergency management processes to facilitate contingency planning and response. It provides essential real-time visibility to the incident management organization as well as affected stakeholders.

Read Sheila Kennedy's monthly column, Technology Toolbox.