Matrix Technologies provides machine safety risk assessment and training from a safe distance

Risk assessments are key to identifying safety hazards revolving around equipment, operations and the production environment. During times of physical separation, such as those required during the COVID-19 outbreak, risk assessments may still be required to mitigate risks to essential workers.

In this example, the client requested Matrix Technologies’ manufacturing engineering consultants not only to perform a risk assessment on a piece of equipment that manufactures steel coils, but also to teach their employees about risk assessments and how to conduct and understand them. During the proposal phase, the pandemic hit the United States and prevented having nonessential workers on site. The client suggested that Matrix Technologies develop and perform a virtual risk assessment and provide training to help move production forward safely.

What Matrix Did

The project involved three phases:

  • A presentation
  • Onsite fieldwork investigation
  • A risk assessment meeting

The presentation, conducted over web conference, discussed the machine safety lifecycle, risk assessments, applicable safety standards, verification vs. validation, and information on safety devices and their uses. This session allowed the client to learn how to assess risk, understand why risk assessments are needed, and interpret the resulting performance levels (PL) and safety integrity levels (SIL) and what they mean for upgrades to the safety system.

Machine Safety Lifecycle

  • Defined process that helps ensure proper safety practices
  • Continuous process that occurs throughout the life of the machine
  • Repeatable process that removes uncertainty and eliminates omissions and errors
  • Identifies steps required to assess and mitigate machinery risks

The next phase of the project was the onsite field investigation. This included the client’s risk assessment team of operators, maintenance, engineering and supervisory personnel going out to the machine in groups of three-four people. At the machine, they cataloged the tasks that each operator, maintenance and passerby employee conducts in and/or around the machine and the corresponding hazards for each task. The team then documented the initial scoring without any guarding or safety mitigations of the task hazard pairs.

Safety System Functional Requirements

ISO 13849 – Risk Scoring for a Control System

S – Severity of Injury

  S1 – Slight Injury

  S2 – Serious Injury or Death

F – Frequency and Duration of Hazard

  F1 – Rarely to many Short Occurrences

  F2 – Many long or permanent Occurrences

P – Probability of Avoidance

  P1 – Possible under certain conditions

  P2 – Hardly possible

On the following day, the risk assessment team met back via web-conference to discuss the task-hazard pairs they documented and their initial scores. They documented all the existing mitigation methods currently in place and assessed whether additional mitigation techniques were needed. Items requiring additional mitigation or safety control system elements were documented and rescored to show the acceptable risk level and performance level requirements for the safety system.


In the end, this solution accomplished two goals.  The presentation portion helped to trained the client how to conduct a risk assessment, learn the applicable safety standards for their equipment, and understand the steps involved with upgrading a safety system.  The risk assessment portion provided the client with a proper assessment of their equipment while keeping their employees safe from contact with outside personnel. Doing both sessions allowed the client to not only learn how to do machine safety risk assessments, but also have their first one facilitated and under the guidance of a Functional Machine Safety Engineer.  The virtual assessment also reduced travel costs, providing the client added savings.

Matrix Technologies’ manufacturing engineering consultants’ ability to be flexible in engineering support helps our clients solve some of their most difficult operational problems. We strive to think outside the box not only with engineering design but also in service delivery.

If you are battling day-to-day operations, safety concerns, or need an upgrade, feel free to contact us to see how Matrix Technologies can help.

Matrix Technologies is one of the largest independent process design, industrial automation engineering, and manufacturing operations management companies in North America. To learn more about our manufacturing operations management capabilities and manufacturing process control solutions, contact Carl Bohman, PE or Mackenzie Coughlan, MBA.

© Matrix Technologies, Inc.


Tags: and / COVID-19  / Essential Workers  / Industrial Automation Engineering  / Machine safety  / Manufacturing Engineering Consultants  / Manufacturing Operations Management  / Manufacturing Process Control  / Risk Assessment  / Safety  / Improvement  / Safety 

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