Resources - System Safety

System Safety vs Industrial Safety

Industrial safety activities are designed to protect the workers in the industrial environment. There are extensive standards imposed by the federal codes of regulations which provide for a safe workplace. Few, if any, of these apply to protection of a product being manufactured. The contractor system safety program is designed so that it supplements industrial safety activities to protect equipment and property being used or manufactured under contract. Use of contractor-owned or leased equipment is also subject to review. The figures below compare the concerns of system safety versus industrial safety.

When contractor-owned or leased equipment is being used in manufacturing, testing, or handling products being produced under contract, the system safety effort is required to analyze such equipment and require operational proof tests. This is done to show that risk of damage to the product has been minimized with proper design, maintenance, and operating procedures and to assure the equipment is operated by qualified personnel.

The contractor is required by law to implement these regulations. The contracted system safety effort is concerned only to the extent that these regulations affect the operation of the system being built and that risk of damage to government equipment and the product being developed has been minimized.

General Concerns
Changes/Unplanned Events/Mishaps

The system safety activity is conducted to complement the industrial safety activities by addressing occupational safety and health needs in system design analysis and manufacturing planning. Often the interface between the two safety functions is not covered or is insufficient. This may leave gaps in the overall mishap prevention program.

For example, in one case, a satellite was being assembled and checked out in a controlled area; however, during the night, the plastic cover on a mercury-vapor light melted and the hot plastic, which dripped on some papers that were left on a wooden bench, started a fire. Before the fire was detected, most of the support and checkout equipment was badly damaged. Also, the dense smoke caused extensive damage and contamination to solar cells and other sensitive equipment.

When the system safety manager was asked what his analysis had indicated in this area, he said, “We didn’t look at that. That’s industrial safety.” When the industrial safety manager was asked when last he looked into the area, he responded, “They were testing a satellite in there. That is system safety’s job.” Further investigation showed that the system safety analysis had considered this problem and recommended metal benches be used. However, this analysis was not made available to the industrial safety people, and no follow-up action had been taken on the recommendation. While this is an example of bad management, by both system and industrial safety, this attitude is far too prevalent to be ignored.

Methods must be developed within each program which allow system and industrial safety engineers to adapt to each others needs. During early program planning, a cooperative industrial safety effort is needed to write the system safety program plan (SSPP) so that it includes industrial safety operations. An agreement must be reached on how to separate those functional elements which are required by contract and those required by law. This should be done carefully to avoid payment for contractual tasks which also are paid for as overhead. This separation must take place without loss of the cooperative effort necessary to take full advantage of the methods and talents that are available in both functions. MIL-STD-882 provides an option for the contractor to conduct the system safety program so that it complements existing industrial safety activities to assure protection of government equipment and property. To accomplish the task, the contractor has to know the concerns and requirements of each function. Once this is understood, it becomes obvious where the overlapping concerns are. Then, agreements can be reached on which functional element will deal with the overlap. A description of how these areas are to be addressed is then included in the SSPP. Joint analyses and risk assessments are performed and should be included in the Mishap Risk Assessment Report.

Industrial Safety Problems and Problem Areas

  1. Compliance with federal, state, and local industrial codes and regulations.
  2. Required state inspections of equipment, such as boilers, cranes, elevators, degreasers, fire systems, etc.
  3. Fire prevention and control program.
  4. Personnel accident prevention program and statistical records.
  5. Temperature and humidity control.
  6. Noise level control within the plant.
  7. Personal protective clothing requirements, i.e. safety glasses/shoes, hard hats, nonstatic work clothes, etc.
  8. Safe and adequate tools for the job to be done.
  9. Safety guards for moving parts of machinery, such as pulleys, gears, saws, grinders, conveyors, etc.
  10. Material handling and storage methods.
  11. In-plant cleanliness and good housekeeping practices.
  12. Motor vehicle safety program.
  13. Adequate lighting for type of work.
  14. Warning alarms and signs.
  15. Employee safety training.
  16. Personal hygiene and first aid programs.
  17. Proof testing and identification of lifting sling, ropes, etc.
  18. Security control of identified hazardous areas.
  19. Guard rails on platforms, stairs, walkways.
  20. Personnel protection during hazardous testing.

System Safety Problems and Problem Areas

  1. Manage and implement the product system safety program plan.
  2. Identification of hazards associated with the system or desired product.
  3. Incorporate safety into the product design, operation, test, and maintenance.
  4. Evaluation of identified hazards and design action to eliminate or minimize and control the hazards.
  5. Develop safety design criteria to be incorporated into the product design.
  6. Conduct hazard analyses on the product being developed.
  7. Maintain product safety records.
  8. Identify hazardous characteristics of hazardous materials and energy sources, including explosives, flammables, corrosives, toxics, and methods of control and disposal.
  9. Assure that all operations on or with the deliverable product elements can be identified.

Source: USAF System Safety Handbook.

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Copyright ©2000-2019 Geigle Safety Group, Inc. All rights reserved. Federal copyright prohibits unauthorized reproduction by any means without permission. Disclaimer: This material is for training purposes only to inform the reader of occupational safety and health best practices and general compliance requirement and is not a substitute for provisions of the OSH Act of 1970 or any governmental regulatory agency. CertiSafety is a division of Geigle Safety Group, Inc., and is not connected or affiliated with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).