Machine Safety Expert Witness

Machine Safety Expert

Historically three basic principles have guided machine and machinery safety to minimize the chance of accidents.

1. Safety by Design
2. Machine Guarding (Safeguarding)
3. Warning Devices

Safety by design eliminates hazards during the design phase of the machine. For example the machine designer can use rounded corners rather than sharp corners to eliminate a cutting hazard.

Machine guarding, also called safeguarding, uses barriers or other safety devices to physically separate the human from hazards associated with the machine. Standards dictate the maximum guard openings versus distance from the hazard zone.

Signs, audible horns and visible lights are examples of warning devices intended to make people aware of hazards so they can avoid accidents.

As machine safety has evolved, approaches to machinery safety have grown more holistic, or system-wide. These approaches consider corporate culture, standardized processes and the life cycle of the machine. The machine’s life cycle includes deployment, operation and decommissioning. Studies in Sweden and Japan showing that many machine accidents do not happen during regular operation; but rather during programming, maintenance, repair, testing, setup, and adjustment support the life cycle approach to machine safety. A machine safety expert will take all of these considerations into account when designing the machine.

There have been important recent developments in machinery safety in the area of safe machine hardware and safe motion technology. These advances employ redundant sensing and fault tolerant hardware to create safety zones that can be configured independently for different operational and maintenance situations to further minimize the chance of machinery accidents.

Finally, safety standards exist to guide the design, deployment, operation and maintenance of machinery. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) are two important contributors to machine safety standards. There are also many other contributors to the body of machine safety standards. The machine’s design, specific application and use are among the factors that determine which standards apply. Other factors including the dates when the machine was designed, deployed, maintained, upgraded and operated also may influence the standards to apply.

I have extensive professional experience designing machines and factory automation systems and can support you litigation efforts as a machine safety expert witness. I also have substantial experience analyzing machine accidents. My qualifications include numerous peer-reviewed publications and over thirty years of engineering experience with software, robotics, instrumentation, medical devices, computer-controlled machines and factory automation.

I accept a small number of litigation support engagements to complement my regular work as a professional engineer designing automation and machine control systems.

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