Given the complexity and variety in today’s manufacturing and industrial processes, it’s hard to find the right safety solution for your company’s specific needs. Marine industries, for example, face unique challenges due to the variation in vessel configurations and shipping standards.
While a one-size-fits-all approach to safety equipment might solve some of your issues, it could leave you exposed to risk in other areas, and is unlikely to provide maximum value for your business.
Here are four steps to finding the best safety solution for your company’s unique needs:
- Identify Your Safety Issues
Choosing the right safety solution begins with assessing your facility’s current safety concerns, as well as issues that could arise in upcoming initiatives. For many processes and operations, examination by a variety of stakeholders may be sufficient to identify safety issues, according to an OSHA publication on hazard analysis.
Naturally, the assessment should include all known safety hazards, but should also include safety issues that aren’t necessarily negative. For example, you might include goals your company wants to achieve, such as adopting higher safety standards or becoming compliant with new internal standards.
- Justify Your Safety Issues With Appropriate Evidence
The next step is to show measurable justifications for each of the safety issues you’ve identified. For example, you might use the number of breakdowns in the plant over a month as evidence of a specific safety issue.
To gather this evidence, conduct a standard step-by-step job safety analysis or job hazard analysis (JHA). If you face particularly complex or dangerous safety risks, OSHA recommends considering more in-depth methodologies.
These alternate methods include:
What-If Checklist: This assessment combines a team of specialists and a prepared checklist. The end result is a comprehensive process-hazards analysis that is useful for training personnel on the hazards of a given operation.
Hazard And Operability Study (HAZOP): This method investigates each of a system’s elements to discover all the ways in which important parameters could deviate from the intended design conditions, resulting in hazards and in operability problems.
Failure Mode And Effect Analysis (FMEA): This approach examines each component in a process to determine how the failure of any component could conceivably affect the safety of the process. Examples of these components include controllers, valves and pumps, instrument transmitters and rotometers.
Fault Tree Analysis: This method produces a quantitative assessment of all undesirable outcomes that could result from a specific initiating event. A fault tree analysis is particularly useful in evaluating how alternative actions (such as different safety measures) could reduce the probability of an explosion, toxic gas release or other hazard.
- Calculate The Business Cost Of Your Safety Issues
Now that you’ve identified and measured your safety issues, the next step is to calculate what your current scenario is costing the business. You might express that cost in terms of lost productivity, such as, “We are losing X number of dollars per month due to this specific equipment failure,” or, “We are losing X number of employee hours per month due to injury.”
Having a firm understanding of these costs helps your company make sound decisions when choosing specific safety equipment and services. When you know how much the company is likely to save by reducing or eliminating safety issues, you’re able to determine the true value of investing in a comprehensive safety solution.
- Consult With An Expert To Tailor A Solution To Your Needs
Once you’ve completed the first three steps, you’re ready to work with a consultant or vendor to design a safety solution that reflects the issues and business costs you’ve documented. Communication is key to success in this step. Communicating clearly with the consultant or vendor helps you establish a budget early in the engagement. You also minimize business interruptions by integrating your process and timing needs with the vendor’s process.
By following these four steps, you end up with a safety solution that resolves your safety issues in measurable ways and meets the needs of your business.