5 common machine safety hazards and how to prevent them
Preventing machine safety hazards is essential not just for protecting lives but for ensuring worker well-being, compliance with regulations, productivity, cheaper worksites, and a culture of improvement and innovation.
But what are five of the most common machine safety hazards and how can they be prevented?
Machine safety hazard 1: direct contact with vehicles and machinery
According to a recent study, drivers and machinery operators in heavy industry work the most dangerous jobs. According to the report, 68 of these workers died in one year—having left home to earn a dollar only never to return to their loved ones.
That’s why it’s everyone’s responsibility to look out for each when working around heavy equipment. To keep people safe:
- Work areas where heavy machinery is used must be clearly marked and barricaded.
- Non-essential workers should be restricted access to heavy industry high-risk work areas.
- Ground personnel entering the site must make themselves known to all machine operators, spotters and other workers in the area.
- Operators should, where possible, avoid backing up.
- Operators should stop work if they lose sight of anyone on site.
- If ground workers lose sight of the operator in vehicle mirrors they need to leave safely or make their presence known to a spotter.
- Companies can employ AI technologies to monitor, alert personnel and automate reporting of near-misses in real-time to ensure safety standards are benchmarked and improved.
Machine safety hazard 2: human error
Human error, unfortunately, remains a leading cause of accidents involving heavy machinery. These colossal beasts of industry require skill, expertise, and unwavering attention to detail. But even the most seasoned of operators can be susceptible to lapses in judgment, momentary distractions, or complacency. This can lead to disastrous consequences, putting lives and assets in jeopardy.
Moreover, factors such as fatigue, stress, and emotional states play a role. A tired operator dealing with personal problems may not be fully focused on the task at hand. Everyone has had one of those days, but for workers in heavy industry, it could mean it’s their last.
AI technology is a way to bypass human failings and better support safety in heavy industry. That’s because AI-powered computer vision systems can:
- Detect and alert to unsafe behaviours and situation.
- Monitor and analyse operator movements and provide real-time feedback to prevent accidents.
Machine safety hazard 3: time pressures and the nature of modern work
Time pressures and demanding schedules of modern work can create an environment where corners may be cut, safety protocols bypassed, or important steps overlooked. These small breeches of safety become ticking time bombs—just waiting for a moment of miscalculation to trigger a hazardous situation that results in injuries, property damage, and financial setbacks.
By recording near-misses in real time, AI vision can help safety personnel to collate and analyse data that enables more successful safety measures to be introduced. These measures would ensure productivity was maintained by helping to set achievable deadlines that workers can meet while remaining safe.
Machine safety hazard 4: exposure to hazardous substances
Exposure to hazardous substances is a huge issue in heavy industry (especially when using heavy machinery) and presents both health hazards and physiochemical hazards. But AI-powered systems are proving a successful solution because they can:
- Monitor air quality on worksites in real-time and detect the presence of hazardous substances.
- Continue learning so they are better able to analyse data and predict potential exposure risks.
- Can provide early warnings. This then allows safety personnel to adopt appropriate protective measures, such as ventilation or the use of respirators.
Machine safety hazard 5: electrical, fire and explosion hazards
Electrical hazards are also common in machine safety. Similarly, many machines use flammable materials or produce sparks posing fire and explosion hazards. To minimise risks:
- Regularly inspect and maintain machines.
- Provide workers with proper training on safe electrical practices.
- Make sure machines are properly grounded and have adequate insulation.
- Keep machines clean and free of debris.
- Properly store flammable materials
- Use AI. By continuously monitoring machines AI can alert to issues in real-time and this knowledge can be used to predict future outcomes.
AI vision: the answer to preventing machine safety hazards
AI vision like the kind used by Blindsight is at the forefront of machine hazard prevention. That’s because Blindsight:
- Alerts operators and people around the machine in real time, increasing situational awareness and picking up on risks before an incident can happen.
- Automatically records video of every detection and near-miss for safety personnel to review.
- Detects people, vehicles, and cones without requiring physical tags or markers, so you can protect your most valuable assets.
- Allows you to review and share detections.
- Allows you to set a baseline for safety and monitor progress across individual machines, projects, and companies.
- Gives safety personnel an easy-to-use web app to streamline health and safety reporting and workflows.
Machine safety is a critical concern in any industrial environment, and AI has emerged as a valuable tool for preventing accidents and creating safer working conditions. From detecting mechanical failures to preventing human errors and monitoring exposure to hazardous substances, AI offers real-time insights and predictive capabilities that help prevent accidents before they happen.
To see how embracing AI-driven safety solutions can help you unlock a safer future for your worksites, book a free Blindsight demo.