When developing machine tools, the industrial sheet metal manufacturer must analyze all potential risks to which the users are exposed.

They must take measures to protect them.

The assessment process and the reduction of risks are defined by the ISO 12100 standard and include the following steps:

  • Step 1: Definition of the scope of services and the machine functions
  • Step 2: Identification of the dangers
  • Step 3: Risks anticipation
  • Step 4: Risk Assessment

1. Definition of the scope of service and the machine functions

The discretion of the risk begins with determining which functions and what scope of performance the machine has.

It can be:

  • Specifications of the machine (the typology of the manufactured products, the capacity, the productivity/performance, the intended materials, etc.)
  • Their structural size and the area where it’s to be used
  • The potential lifetime
  • The expected functions
  • Malfunctions that must be taken into account
  • Persons involved in the operation of the machine
  • Products that are connected to the machine
  • The correct application, but also the unexpected behavior of the operator or the wrong (abusive) operation of the machine

2. Identification of the dangers

Depending on the functioning of the machine, incorrect operation – or inappropriate but predictable behavior – can give rise to potential risks:

  • Loss of control via the machine
  • A reflexive behavior of the user operating the machine in case of a malfunction, a misconduct or a breakdown
  • A faulty behavior due to poor concentration or inattention
  • An erroneous behavior due to the execution of a task according to the principle of “path of least resistance”
  • A behavior related to the pressure to keep the machine running at all costs
  • A behavior of a special group of people (for example, children, adolescents, disabled persons etc.)

A certain number of malfunctions must also be taken into account when replacing components which are necessary for the functioning of the machine and represent a great potential danger.

3. Assessment of the risk

The risk is determined to identify the potential hazards, hazardous situations, and potentially dangerous events that the user may be confronted with.

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The machine tool manufacturer must anticipate the various hazards during the stages of the machine life:

  • Mechanical hazards
  • Electrical hazards
  • Thermal hazards
  • Hazards associated with the level of noise
  • Hazards associated with vibration
  • Hazards associated with radiation
  • Hazards associated with materials and substances
  • Hazards associated with disregarding ergonomic principles in the development of machinery
  • Dangers of slipping, stumbling and falling
  • Hazards associated with the operating environment of the machine
  • Dangers that arise from the combination of the aforementioned dangers

4. Risk assessment

Once the hazards are listed, the manufacturer must evaluate them and, if necessary, reduce them to a minimum.

The risk assessment must be documented.

To avert these hazards, the supplier of sheet metal components is required to assist the machine tool manufacturer in the development.

Even if the manufacturer is responsible for the safety of its customers and has to be within the legal framework that is set for it, the supplier of sheet metal elements can help it to minimize the risks.

For example, problems of tightness can be solved (oil leaks, etc.) with the assistance of the supplier.

In addition to ergonomics consulting, the supplier of sheet metal parts also considers the manufacturer’s aesthetic criteria.

In summary, machine tool manufacturers must identify and anticipate all risks and hazards to which the user may be exposed during operation of the machine.

This procedure makes it possible to minimize the risks and to manufacture the machine within the European framework.

These risks may be related to the functioning of the machine, but also to its application, an unexpected behavior or a potential misconduct.

The role of the supplier of sheet metal parts is to support the process of minimizing risks by providing technical and safety solutions to the machine tool manufacturer.


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