Evaluating the Machine Guarding ROI

Insurance studies indicate machine safeguarding provides an excellent opportunity for businesses to reduce bottom-line operating costs by eliminating both the direct and indirect costs of accidents.

Consider this:According to the 2018 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, serious, non-fatal workplace injuries amounted to nearly $60 billion in direct U.S. worker compensation costs. This translates into more than one billion dollars a week spent by businesses on injuries. Another study, this one conducted by Colorado State University, set the total direct and indirect cost of workplace injuries at $128 billion. For its part, the National Safety Council (NSC) set the total cost to society of occupational injuries and deaths at $151.1 billion.

So how does an organization evaluate the machine guarding return on investment (ROI)?

DIRECT COSTS

First off, what are the direct costs of an accident? These refer to out-of-pocket expenses like hospital and medical bills, but may also include the loss of a worker’s time because of the accident, the lost productivity by the machine involved in the accident being idled or requiring repairs, as well as the other machines further down the production line being shut down. Direct costs continue to cascade throughout the company with overtime required to make up the lost productivity or new workers who need to be hired and trained.

The NSC estimates that cost per medically consulted injury, counting wage losses, medical expenses, administrative expenses and other direct employer costs, to be $32,000. This varies greatly by cause and nature of the injury, and which part of the body is impacted. For example, the average cost per worker compensation claims involving an amputation runs $95,204, while a crushing accident is $57,519. These two sorts of injuries are mentioned here because they are both very common in machinery-related accidents. The NSC also reports that an employee death resulting from an accident costs the company on average $1.2 million. Total medical cost to society annually from occupational injuries and deaths is $33.8 billion.

INDIRECT COSTS
Analysis reveals that the actual total cost of an accident ranges from four to ten times the direct cost stated by an insurance company once indirect costs are factored in. Indirect costs can include such things as workplace disruptions, loss of productivity, and increased insurance premiums. And of course, there are litigation and lawyer fees. Here, the sky is the limit. Lawsuits resulting from employee injuries or death, especially those involving a lack of machine safeguarding, often result in multi-million dollar settlements or verdicts. Investments targeted for company growth may need to be diverted to cover the costs of these settlements, putting the future of the company in jeopardy.

While it is not calculated as an indirect cost, a poor safety record can make the difference between a company winning or losing bids, especially with government contracts. A plant with a singularly bad reputation for safety may also find itself unable to attract qualified workers or may have to pay wages well above market value to do so. Also, if the machine is locked out for investigation or until the safeguarding deficiency is abated, the company may need to outsource the work at a much higher cost. It’s also possible that the work is so specialized that it’s impossible to outsource and therefore the company loses the business.

MANAGEMENT OPINIONS ON SAFETY
A poll by Liberty Mutual Group insurance showed that the majority of executives surveyed (61%) reported that for every one dollar spent on safety, three dollars is saved. Nearly all (95%) said workplace safety had a positive effect on financial performance. OSHA estimates a 6:1 ratio for saved dollars for every one dollar invested in safety, twice Liberty Mutual’s 3:1 ratio.

Of course, if a company could be guaranteed a huge return on their safety investment, more than half the machines in the U.S. today would not be operating unprotected. Convincing upper management to commit tens of thousands of dollars on machine safeguarding when a return may not be seen for years can be a hard sell. In this situation, safety professionals can stress that although cost savings are a motivator, safety’s biggest ROI comes in the form of human capital. Money savings from fewer injuries, increased productivity, and higher morale are all additional benefits.

Detect-A-Finger® Prevents Welding and Riveting Injuries

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 5,000 American manufacturing workers suffer injuries involving amputation or limb loss every single year. In all, amputations rank in OSHA’s top three serious workplace injuries. The Detect-A-Finger® drop-probe device is designed to prevent a riveter, welder or other small machine from cycling if it encounters fingers in the point-of-operation area, therefore preventing contact between the operator and dangerous moving parts.

Simplicity is the key to Detect-A-Finger’s success. Whenever an operator initiates a machine cycle, typically through an electric foot switch, the Detect-A-Finger sensing probe is automatically released, ensuring that safeguarding can not be deactivated or overlooked by the operator. If the probe detects anything more than the material thickness, it halts the machine from cycling. However, if an operator’s fingers or hands have not entered the point-of-operation area, the sensing probe will drop into its preset position, and the Detect-A-Finger’s control unit will allow the machine to cycle to maintain ongoing machine productivity and performance.

With its compact design, Detect-A-Finger easily mounts on most machines, regardless of brand, providing fabricators with an invaluable way to enhance both safety and productivity. Depending on space and preference, the drop probe assembly can be mounted on either the left or right side of a machine, while the head and control unit are normally mounted on the machine frame or custom-fabricated brackets. The aluminum probe rod is shaped to fit around the tooling, allowing parts to be formed safely at high speed to achieve maximum output.

Protection For Most Machinery
Accidents occur on all types of manufacturing equipment, which is why Rockford Systems offers its proven Detect-A-Finger system to safeguard virtually every machine found on a plant floor.

The RKC-000 Detect-A-Finger model is for smaller machines, including riveters, eye letters, stalkers, staplers, crimpers, and fastening and assembly machines. Available now online for $868.00 (USD), this version is ideal for retrofitting machines to meet new safety standards.

The RKC-500 Detect-A-Finger model is exclusively for welders. The unique design of its sensing probe module allows it to be attached to a welder arm, whether it is fixed or moving. Depending on the type of welder, a single-stage or a two-stage foot switch may be required. It may also be applied to mechanical foot pedal-type welders, although the mechanical pedal must be removed and replaced with an air cylinder. The RKC-500 is available for $1,053.00 (USD).

The DAF-100 Detect-A Finger model is the premium version for both riveters and welders. Featuring an adjustable stroke up to four-inches, it comes with the control box, drop-probe assembly, aluminum sensing probes, and other necessary components. The DAF-100 is available for $1,998.00 (USD).

All Rockford Systems Detect-A-Finger versions are designed for compliance with OSHA 29 CFR, Subpart 0, 1910.212 general requirements for all machines.