Three levels of safety

Ensuring a safe working environment involves, in my opinion, three general areas. They are closely related.


First and foremost is personnel safety. You don’t want to adopt practices that will place your people in dangerous situations. When it comes to CNC machine usage, of course, we’re talking about your CNC people(tool setters, gatherers, operators, setup people,programmers, etc.). And again, this should be your first priority – and most companies concentrate on ensuring the safety of their people. Unfortunately, this may be as far as they go.


The second level of safety is machine safety. As with personnel safety, you don’t want to adopt practices that will place your machine tools in dangerous situations. Think of problems, usually mishaps, that can keep your machines from running.Operator mistakes that cause crashes, lack of attention to preventive maintenance, and poor processes may be the three most common causes of unpredictable machine downtime (corrective maintenance).


The third level of safety is workpiece safety. You want to make good parts. Think of things that have caused scrap workpieces (operator mistakes, poor processes, variations in raw material,etc.).


These three areas are closely related. An operator mistake that causes a crashed machine may place the operator in danger, damage the machine, and scrap the current workpiece. A poor process, if sufficiently poor enough, could do the same.


As stated, most companies place a high emphasis on personnel safety. But often machine and workpiece safety are overlooked. Or they are not even considered in safety discussions. When you consider the three areas together, you enhance your potential for creating a safer working environment, because when you improve one area, the other two will generally improve as well.


For example, improving a process to make it easier to hold size (possibly with better cutting or workholding tools) will obviously minimizes crap, improving workpiece safety. But when the machine is easier to run, there is less chance of operator mistakes which can lead to damaged machines and injured people as well.


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