Why do risk assessments generate profit?

Posted by Dan Junker, VP of Operations on Feb 26, 2019 11:14:42 AM

Thank You in advance for your comments.Greatly limit liability and increase profits with TBRAs. 

Dan Junker, VP for Safety Center, Inc.
(513) 371-9494

As some of you already know, a TBRA is a task-based risk assessment used for addressing risk with a robot, machine, crane, ASRS, conveyor system and really anything automated. A TBRA is the most valuable tool in safety. It is central to any safety effort.

What more and more companies are figuring out is TBRAs are major profit generators. Interaction is key, especially when leveraging present day software, collaboration and cloud technology. TBRA software should be usable by anyone who can use a browser even if it is only for email or Facebook.  By making a TBRA comfortable to use for anyone associated with an automation system you get 2 benefits right away. You can use lower cost personnel, who know the automation, to enter and maintain risk data. By doing this, you include them in the process. This often pays major dividends. 

It sounds like a pretty big leap from analyzing risk to making safety a profit center. In order to understand why this makes sense you have to drill down into a TBRA and its process. I will do my best to make short work of this and invite comments.

Equally important is getting everyone on board with combating liability while focusing on productivity. As any HR person will tell you, respectful relationships are central to this issue. Task-based risk assessments are standardized by ANSI with RIA TR R15.306-2016 and B11.0-2015 and also CSA 434-14 and ISO 12100 to name the main sources. If you go online you can find hundreds of risk assessments methods or spreadsheets, but most of them miss the main ingredient for profit and very few and maybe just one product-methodology (Safety Center, Inc.) deliver on making safety a profit center. Strict adherence to the global Standards plus the tools for respect, inclusion and ownership are built into the Safety Center TBRA solution. 

Safety Teams use TBRAs to address risk with automation in the manufacturing environment. Safety Teams change with regard to the stage in the life cycle of the automation. Safety Teams are made up of those people who will interface with the automation presently or in the near future.  When automation is built, a typical safety team should include Assembly, Engineering, EHS, Quality, Management, safeguard Suppliers (for free lunch & learns), a 3rd party Safety Consultant and the Customer the automation is being built for.

 A TBRA takes an automation task and pairs it with associated hazard(s). Then a decision is made that takes into account the severity, frequency of exposure and possibility of avoidance a task has with a hazard. When that decision is made, a risk matrix correlates to a Performance Level and Category of risk. The Performance Level is used to select safeguards that will reduce the risk to an acceptable level. When the people assigned to doing the TBRA reach the point where safeguards have been selected, Verification of the TBRA is made, ideally with input from the entire Safety Team.

Profit comes from asking the operator, maintenance person or set up person on an automated system for their input. There is nothing more valuable in an automation environment than respect, inclusion and buy in of safety. Often discussion of the task and its associated hazard is an eye opener for everyone involved. In addition, getting input on the best way to impact an automation system with safeguards builds respect and trust to the point where it can often lead to significant increases in productivity. Buy in and ownership are common results. This is where much of the profit can be realized, but it is not the only profit to be gained. Keep an eye on motivation, pride and attitude improvements that also can affect the bottom line. 

A strictly compliant software approach to TBRA, properly implemented, will lead to that, because the software requires input from the Safety Team and that means working together.

Once the TBRA Verification has taken place, engineering and design can do their job to implement the safeguards according to the applicable Standards. The Safety Team should be routinely kept aware of changes and updates on how the automation project is doing. They should be consulted with on the changes to make sure the original Performance Level is being maintained so the Validation will still prove risk has been reduced to an acceptable level. Collaboration again plays a big part in the process.

Once the design is complete, bids are taken and decided on and the project is built, there are often changes that need to be made during assembly. By getting approval for all changes from the Safety Team, the amount of changes that have to be made at a later date when the automation is installed on the factory floor are minimal.  Installation downtime is costly.  Collaboration reduces that to a minimum.

Collaboration tools that enable an anywhere/anytime meeting, make the process much more efficient, productive and predictable. Collaboration throughout the process often leads to greatly reduced downtime and the need for additional personnel. 

Validation is the next phase of the TBRA process. Validating that the Verified safeguards were designed, built and installed in accordance with the appropriate Standards is one part of the Validation process. Another key part is validating that the worker and safeguards work together with risk reduced to an acceptable level.

Final Documentation and Training typically rounds out the process of a TBRA. If this is done with all members in place, it again builds a relationship that makes safety a profit center. You can’t make a bigger commitment (investment) to a worker than keeping them safe. It is no coincidence that workers return that investment many times over.

Dan Junker, CMSE®

Vice President and Proud Consultant

Safety Center, Inc.


(513) 371-9494

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