Machinery Safety 101

Joint Software Systems Safety Engineering Handbook, 2010


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Own­er: Doug Nix

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Last Updated: 04-09-2018 10:22


Since the devel­op­ment of the digit­al com­puter and com­put­ing devices, soft­ware and firm­ware logic con­tin­ues to play an import­ant and evol­u­tion­ary role in the oper­a­tion and con­trol of haz­ard­ous, safety-crit­ic­al func­tions (SCFs). The reluct­ance of the engin­eer­ing com­munity to relin­quish human con­trol of haz­ard­ous oper­a­tions has dimin­ished over the last 25 years. Today, digit­al com­puter sys­tems have autonom­ous con­trol over safety-crit­ic­al func­tions in nearly every major tech­no­logy, both com­mer­cially and with­in Gov­ern­ment sys­tems. This revolu­tion is due primar­ily to the abil­ity of soft­ware to per­form crit­ic­al con­trol tasks reli­ably at speeds unmatched by its human coun­ter­part. Oth­er factors influ­en­cing this trans­ition are the ever-grow­ing need for increased ver­sat­il­ity, high­er per­form­ance cap­ab­il­ity, great­er effi­ciency, increased net­work inter­op­er­ab­il­ity, and decreased life­cycle cost. In most instances, the prop­erly designed soft­ware can meet all of these attrib­utes for sys­tem per­form­ance. The logic of the soft­ware allows for decisions to be imple­men­ted with speed and accur­acy without the human oper­at­or in the decision-mak­ing loop. With­in the domain of sys­tems engin­eer­ing, sys­tems safety engin­eer­ing iden­ti­fies and ana­lyzes beha­vi­our­al and inter­face require­ments, the design archi­tec­ture, and the human inter­face with­in the con­text of both sys­tems and sys­tems of sys­tems (SoS). In addi­tion, sys­tem safety engin­eer­ing defines require­ments for design and sys­tems engin­eer­ing, tak­ing into account the poten­tial risks, veri­fic­a­tion and val­id­a­tion (V&V) of effect­ive mit­ig­a­tion, and resid­ual risk accept­ance by cer­ti­fic­a­tion or approv­al author­it­ies. It is essen­tial to per­form sys­tem safety engin­eer­ing tasks on safety-crit­ic­al sys­tems to reduce safety risk in all aspects of a pro­gram. These tasks include soft­ware sys­tem safety activ­it­ies involving the design, code, test, inde­pend­ent veri­fic­a­tion and val­id­a­tion (IV&V), oper­a­tion and main­ten­ance, and change con­trol func­tions with­in the soft­ware engin­eer­ing devel­op­ment and deploy­ment pro­cesses.

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