Anyone in the United States who has been involved in the design, manufacture, integration or use of automation equipment for export knows all to well from where the driving forces of safety standards have emanated. Since the Machinery Directive came into regulation on January 1995, manufacturers have focused on CE mark mandated safety and design standards. Clearly the European Union has been the most significant driver of new machinery safeguarding standards effecting U.S. manufacturers. No, not OSHA, not even Washington, but Europe. Now it is time to prepare for a second wave of new safety standards, but this time the source is a bit closer to home.
Prepare for the ANSI Onslaught
The various standards committees, working under the procedures of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), are nearing completion on large number of updated or completely new machinery standards which may potentially have a similar impact on domestic users as the CE requirements shocked machinery exporters. Many of these standards directly affect the plant automation industry, either through use of machine tools, robots or safeguarding requirements.
Reviewing just the Robot (R15) and Machine Tool (B11) subcommittees, there are 10 standards which should be published in 1999 or 2000, of which three are completely new. The others are new revisions of previously published versions. In addition to these 10 standards, there are two more new B11 Technical Reports, which should also be published in the same time frame. Technical reports are more informative and tutorial in nature, and are categorized separately from the standards.
The following is a listing of the standards or technical reports with active subcommittees who expect to publish their completed work within the next 18 months:
Designation Date of Current Revision Abbreviated Title
B11.1 1988 (R94) Mechanical Power Presses
B11.3 1982 (R94) Power Press Brakes
B11.6 1984 (R94) Lathes
B11.8 1983 (R94) Drilling, Milling and Boring
B11.15 1984 (R94) Pipe, Tube & Shape Bending
B11.19 1990 (R96) Safeguarding Methods
B11.22 New NC Turning Machines
B11.23 New Machining Centers
B11.24 New Transfer Machines
B11 TR 3 New Risk Assessment
B11 TR 4 New Safety Considerations for Programmable Electronic Systems
RIA R15.06 1992 Robots
The (Rxx) designation indicates the year the standard was reaffirmed without changes from prior version. The letters "TR" indicate a Technical Report.
Don't dismiss the importance of revised standards from prior versions, as often the impact of these changes can be significant. For example, if you accept a correlation of "page count change to impact", a look at the newest draft version of the safety robot standard, ANSI RIA R15.06, should garner your interest. The original R15.06, circa 1986, was a scant 12 pages long. The 1992 revision increased to 22 pages. The final proposed draft for the latest update, as submitted to ANSI for approval in 1999, has now expanded to 75 pages. I do not mean to imply this is the standard equivalent of "bloatware", a problem that can plague the software industry. On the contrary, it reflects the increasing complexity and scope these standards must address while making judicious use of illustrations, tables and charts to explain potentially perplexing concepts.
Who are the members of these various standard subcommittees and how do they create or revise the standards? Although I will say more about this in future columns, for now, suffice to say that the subcommittees consist of interested builders and users of the equipment as well as representatives from labor and government. This is strictly a volunteer activity. Having spent time myself involved with standard activities, I can assure you from personal experience that it is a difficult, tedious, time-consuming job where hours can be spent discussing a particular paragraph, working to ensure the wording is concise, accurate and understandable. As it is tedious, it is likewise rewarding, knowing your efforts will have an impact on enhancing the safety and health of the workplace. The men and women involved in these subcommittees should be commended for their important work in our nation's effort toward national consensus safety and health standards.
For those readers who are interested in participating on a standards subcommittee, please contact, for the B11 standards, The Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT) at 703-893-2900. Further information on the Robot Standards can be obtained from the Robot Industries Association (RIA), 734-994-6088.
I hope this column was successful in providing the readers of Plant Automation.com a look ahead on the impact of these new and revised safeguarding standards. Next month, we'll take a further look at the ANSI standard development process, and the relationship between the voluntary ANSI standards and the mandatory OSHA regulations. In the meantime…be safe out there!
Joe Lazzara is president and CEO of Scientific Technologies Inc. (STI, Fremont, CA), the largest provider of automation safeguarding solutions in North America. Lazzara began his career with Hewlett Packard in 1973 where he had responsibility for safety and environmental issues for one of HP's largest divisions. He joined STI in 1981 as VP and became president in 1989 and CEO in 1993. Lazzara received a bachelor's of environmental engineering degree from Purdue University and an MBA from Santa Clara University.
Please e-mail questions or comments to Joe Lazzara at email@example.com.