A Note about Our Travel Policy

Canadian passport

We believe travel gives us a broad per­spect­ive both per­son­ally and pro­fes­sion­ally. Our focus is glob­al. Our eth­ic­al pos­i­tion is clear; we believe in the health and safety of ALL people. We believe in the power of sci­entif­ic data, and in the power of con­nect­ing with oth­ers glob­ally, so we might learn from one anoth­er.

Compliance inSight Consulting Inc. began 17 years ago; we spend our time work­ing to help ensure the safety of people who work with machinery. We have cli­ents whose busi­nesses span the globe, but most are in North America. And as many of our read­ers know, Doug has always been act­ive with­in the glob­al reg­u­lat­ory com­munity, rep­res­ent­ing both our industry and Canada. (Doug has occa­sion­ally found him­self on more air­craft in a month than many air crews!)

New Travel Policy

The cur­rent US admin­is­tra­tion has made travel to the US prob­lem­at­ic or even impossible for many. Our com­pany and many of our col­leagues are among those affected by these decisions, as the glob­al com­munity scrambles to deal with what has become a daily onslaught of shift­ing US policy decisions. As a res­ult, we have decided to stop trav­el­ling to the US, effect­ive imme­di­ately, and for the fore­see­able future. 

Our Solution

Picture of a notebook computer with people participating in a web meeting

Our cli­ents from the US are our friends and neigh­bours, and we are still here to help.

We will con­tin­ue to offer a vari­ety of web-​based solu­tions to our cli­ents, provid­ing train­ing and con­sult­ing ser­vices via web meet­ing soft­ware, phone and email. We are cur­rently invest­ig­at­ing cloud-​based edu­ca­tion solu­tions so we can offer a com­pre­hens­ive online train­ing portal. We will con­tin­ue to serve our US cli­ents as we have in the past, we just won’t be stop­ping by for a vis­it for a while. We hope you under­stand.

Doug Nix
Managing Director,
Principal Consultant
Kimberly Nix
Managing Director

Image cred­its: cic​.gc​.ca, rhub​com​.com

Why should you get involved in Standards Development?

Committee groupIt’s now been more than 30 years since I first learned about stand­ards, in the form of the Ontario Electrical Code. I was study­ing elec­tri­city and elec­tron­ics in high school, and Steve Struk, the Electricity Teacher at Erindale Secondary School in Mississauga, intro­duced us to the rules. My first encounter with inter­na­tion­al stand­ards was 25 years ago, when I was tasked with doing some envir­on­ment­al stress test­ing using a thermal, humid­ity and vibra­tion cham­ber at Hammond Manufacturing in Guelph. Standards were, and are, an import­ant part of engin­eer­ing and tech­no­logy, and they play increas­ingly import­ant roles in busi­ness and occu­pa­tion­al health and safety. Writing stand­ards takes time. Lots of time. That time has to be provided by inter­ested people and organ­iz­a­tions who recog­nize the value that stand­ards bring to their work and their busi­nesses. Most people involved in stand­ards com­mit­tees are “paid volun­teers”, mean­ing that they are volun­teer­ing their time, but their employ­ers are pay­ing them for the time they spend engaged in stand­ards work. Some, like me, are true volun­teers, where the time spent on stand­ards work is giv­en without any com­pens­a­tion except the know­ledge that we are con­trib­ut­ing some small part to mak­ing Canada a bet­ter place to live and work.

So why should you get involved in stand­ards work? A recent SCC com­mu­niqué said it very well:

SCC’s mem­ber­ship in the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) provides Canadian busi­ness, gov­ern­ment and con­sumer stake­hold­ers with the oppor­tun­ity to sit at the table of glob­al experts mak­ing the rules that will then dic­tate the glob­al trade agenda with­in their field. As a mem­ber of a com­mit­tee devel­op­ing an inter­na­tion­al stand­ard, Canada becomes part of a com­munity of nation­al experts cre­at­ing the stand­ard they need, and can bene­fit greatly through great­er involve­ment in the devel­op­ment pro­cess.

As a mem­ber on a tech­nic­al com­mit­tee at ISO or IEC, a busi­ness can influ­ence the future of its mar­ket, get early access to cut­ting edge inform­a­tion and define its com­pet­it­ive envir­on­ment inter­na­tion­ally. Simply put: par­ti­cip­a­tion in inter­na­tion­al stand­ards devel­op­ment provides Canadians with an oppor­tun­ity to influ­ence a doc­u­ment that could affect their lives or busi­ness in the future.”

Getting involved in stand­ards writ­ing is reward­ing, chal­len­ging, work. Getting involved gives you a chance to con­trib­ute your know­ledge and expert­ise to Canada’s future, and provides an ”…oppor­tun­ity to influ­ence a doc­u­ment that could affect their lives or busi­ness in the future.”

Get involved. Contribute. It’s worth it!

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Acknowledgements: Standards Council of Canada
Some Rights Reserved

Risk Assessment Blunders

Analysis TeamUpdated 7-​Jul-​2014

Recently I read a blog post writ­ten by David Cant, called, “Are You Making These Risk Assessment Blunders?”. Writing in the UK, Mr. Cant spoke to some of the com­mon kinds of prob­lems that can occur when employ­ers con­duct risk assess­ments. Many his points are equally applic­able to machine build­ing:

  1. No Risk Assessment – This seems self evid­ent, since you can’t work to con­trol what you don’t know exists. Unfortunately, some liab­il­ity law­yers have advised cli­ents NOT to con­duct risk assess­ments, on the basis that you can’t be blamed for some­thing you knew noth­ing about. This pos­i­tion is chan­ging, since risk assess­ment has become a fun­da­ment­al piece of the machinery design pro­cess and is included in US, Canadian, International, EU, and Australian stand­ards to name a few. What remains as a liab­il­ity are poorly done risk assess­ments, and those can cer­tainly hurt a com­pany in a liab­il­ity case. See Point 3.
  2. Not Properly Identifying Hazards – This is anoth­er big one. Machine build­ers some­times fail to under­stand the haz­ards that are incor­por­ated into their machinery, espe­cially in the case of sys­tem integ­rat­ors. Identification is the first step, ana­lys­is is the second step. Once the haz­ard has been iden­ti­fied, the assessors must ana­lyze the haz­ard to under­stand the mag­nitude of injury that can occur, e.g., a paper cut, hear­ing loss, per­man­ent mus­cu­lo­skelet­al dis­order, fatal­ity, etc.
  3. Creating an inad­equate risk assess­ment – If you “phone it in”, any know­ledgable per­son will be able to see that, and you can be sure that pro­sec­utors will bring that to the atten­tion of the court! Any claim that is made will be refuted by a know­ledgable per­son hired by the pro­sec­u­tion.
  4. Assuming Safety Because You Have a Document – A risk assess­ment report nev­er pro­tec­ted any­one from harm. Actions based on the report are what pro­tect people from harm. Simply com­plet­ing a risk assess­ment and stick­ing the report in the design file fixes noth­ing, and going back to the liab­il­ity dis­cus­sion, will cre­ate prob­lems when it becomes clear that a) You knew about the risks, b) You thought out mit­ig­a­tion meas­ures for the risks, but c) You failed to act on your own recom­mend­a­tions.
  5. Not involving your employ­ees – I would change this to read, “Not involving the cus­tom­er or end user.” Getting a risk assess­ment done by an out­side indi­vidu­al is likely going to res­ult in a poor out­come, if that per­son does not work with the know­ledgable people in your organ­iz­a­tion. If this is an intern­al risk assess­ment for a pro­cess used in-​house, then you need the work­ers involved with the pro­cess to be part of the risk assess­ment team. You also need the pro­cess design­ers (elec­tric­al, mech­an­ic­al, soft­ware, etc.). If this is a product devel­op­ment risk assess­ment, then you will need product design­ers, mar­ket­ing or sales people, and end-​users. In all cases you may also need out­side experts to help with haz­ard ana­lys­is and mit­ig­a­tion, since you may not have the expert­ise in-​house. A good example of this is the use of indus­tri­al lasers into pro­cesses.
  6. Assessing risk gen­er­ic­ally – this goes back to point 3 – a risk assess­ment has to be rel­ev­ant to the pro­cess, product or ser­vice that it describes. Using a risk assess­ment developed by someone else for some oth­er sim­il­ar product, pro­cess or ser­vice lim­its your think­ing to just what they decided was rel­ev­ant. Better to start with a blank sheet, and only at the end look at other’s work to see if you may have missed any­thing they included.
  7. Doing the risk assess­ment after the machine has been designed, built and put into use – This is a com­mon prob­lem, and espe­cially affects work­places that buy off-​the-​shelf machinery and used machinery. Many machine build­ers are not famil­i­ar with risk assess­ment or the bene­fits to their products, their liab­il­ity expos­ure, and their repu­ta­tion in the mar­ket­place, let alone the bene­fits to their cus­tom­ers. Conducting the risk assess­ment after the equip­ment is in use means that the first stage of the Hierarchy of Controls can­not be used. Since this is the only stage that can achieve 100% risk reduc­tion, this is a HUGE loss. In addi­tion, this means that any changes needed to mit­ig­ate risk require expens­ive changes when the machinery is already in pro­duc­tion, com­pound­ing the expense with lost pro­duc­tion. If you have no oth­er option – for instance, you’ve taken over an exist­ing busi­ness and no risk assess­ments have been done in the past, then late is bet­ter than nev­er, but it should be a last resort and not the first choice. Special thanks to Douglas Florence for sug­gest­ing this added blun­der!

All of this brings me to some import­ant stand­ards. The Canadian Standards Association released CSA Z1002, Occupational health and safety – Hazard iden­ti­fic­a­tion and elim­in­a­tion and risk assess­ment and con­trol, in 2012. This is a land­mark stand­ard, because it addresses work­place risk assess­ment. No oth­er stand­ards devel­op­ment organ­iz­a­tion has released any­thing quite like it. There are some innov­at­ive ideas in the stand­ard, includ­ing the idea of “risk trans­fer.” This concept explains how risk is trans­ferred from the developer or sup­pli­er of a product, pro­cess or ser­vice, called the “extern­al con­text”, to the user organ­iz­a­tion, called the “intern­al con­text”, and then to the work­er. At each trans­fer point, the risk should have been reduced so that the worker’s expos­ure is as low as pos­sible, and cer­tainly no high­er than per­mit­ted by law.

In the machinery world, the “moth­er stand­ard” is ISO 12100, Safety of machinery — General prin­ciples for design — Risk assess­ment and risk reduc­tion. This stand­ard affects many of the machinery safety stand­ards developed world­wide, includ­ing CSA Z432 and the ANSI B11 stand­ards, and is har­mon­ized under the Machinery Directive as EN ISO 12100. This stand­ard lays out the pro­cess for safe machine design and provides the frame­work for machinery risk assess­ment. A com­pan­ion doc­u­ment, ISO/​TR 14121 – 2, Safety of machinery – Risk assess­ment – Part 2: Practical guid­ance and examples of meth­ods, provides guid­ance on how to con­duct a risk assess­ment, and offers up some example tools that could be used for this pur­pose. In the US, ANSI pub­lishes ANSI B11-​TR3, Risk Assessment and Risk Reduction – A Guide to Estimate, Evaluate and Reduce Risks Associated with Machine Tools, provid­ing sol­ar guides to users of the B11 fam­ily of stand­ards.

Need to know more? Contact me for inform­a­tion train­ing and risk assess­ment work in your facil­ity!