Risks evaluation for machinery and plants’ safety


In the Safety machinery and plants’ field we often refer to terms that may seem “generic” such as “Security”, “Risk”, “Machine” and “Reliability”. Actually, these are specialized terms: in the legislative and regulatory jargon associated with Security, the latter are given a meaning that are often different from their common sense.

The plants and machinery Safety is a specialized subject where the concept of Assessment and Estimation of Risks is not linked only to the seriousness of the injuries.

The statement “a risk that may result in an injury with a prognosis of a month is more ‘important’ (critical) of a risk that may result in an accident with a prognosis of a week” in the Industrial Safety context is not always valid.

The risks’ estimation in the Safety filed is not only linked to the severity of the injuries, but also considers other parameters such as the chances of failure (the risks’ exposure of the operator) and the avoidability of danger.

In the same way, the concept of machine and plant safety is not synonymous with “Machine or plant completely free of risks” but “Machine or plant designed and constructed in order to remove or reduce risks as far as possible in all of its life cycle phases”.

The data shared from INAIL (National Institute for Insurance against Accidents at Work) related to accidents at work in 2017 count 354,997 cases in all the analyzed sectors, 75,975 cases are directly attributable to Manufacturing Activities: precautions and risk’s analyzes are fundamentals to drastically reduce these numbers.


Safety integration

The Safety Integration concept expects that the designer tends to consider, as far as possible in the planning process, the necessary compliance with the requirements to guarantee an adequate level of safety for the machinery or plant, verifiable with a conformity analysis.

This principle, explained in both Machinery Directive (2006/42/EC) and the standard “UNI EN ISO 12100: 2010 – Machinery Safety – General Design Principles – Risk Assessment and Risk Reduction”, point out to choose the most appropriate solutions to guarantee the safety of a machinery in the following hierarchical order:

  1. reduce or remove the risks as soon as possible during the design and construction of the machinery;
  2. adopt the necessary protection measures according to the risks still present after the previous phase;
  3. inform machinery’s users about the residual risks due to the incomplete effectiveness of the protection measures adopted through appropriate training and/or indication of personal protective equipment.