Across the manufacturing industry businesses are turning to digitisation as a solution for day to day operational challenges, and Machine Safety Risk Assessments (MSRA) are no exception. 

In this space more and more worksites are choosing to switch from manual data entry with cumbersome spreadsheets, and the double handling and inaccuracies this leads to, in favour of digital solutions and cloud storage. 

It’s a trend known as Industry 4.0, which refers to the “smart” and connected systems that are integrated into machinery and worksites. It’s technology integrated in such a way as to  support decision making. In the manufacturing sector it can increase productivity, efficiency, and sustainability, and with Machine Safety Risk Assessments, it can increase accuracy.

Many other industries have become familiar with using cloud based platforms (like Xero), which revolutionised  traditional paper and Excel spreadsheet based accounting. Machine safety risk assessments are poised to move in the same digital direction. Just as accounting practices have benefitted from accessing, in real time, pertinent accounting information, manufacturing sites can now benefit from the same flexibility, accuracy and accessibility when performing and reviewing machine safety risk assessments. 

Once a company takes their MSRA’s digital, with proper training and support, they tend not to go back, as the benefits of upgrading quickly demonstrate value found in time and process efficiencies. 

We’ll take you through some of the benefits we’ve noted as we’ve helped clients make the move towards digitisation, but first let’s look at the history of Machine Safety Risk Assessments.

Machine Risk Assessments: the paperwork or spreadsheet-based model

Traditionally MSRA’s have been carried out through paperwork and spreadsheets, you’d be surprised at just how common a solution this remains at manufacturing sites across Australia, New Zealand and beyond. 

However, while they are a familiar method, they’re simply not best practice anymore. Paper based or spreadsheet based risk assessments are cumbersome, time consuming and make collaboration difficult. There is usually double handling involved which often leads to error, or out of date information being handled. 

Added to this is, those that are most exposed to risks, and most likely to benefit from safety initiatives are the machine operators themselves. And yet safety data and protocols stored in cumbersome spreadsheets have little narrative value and are not easily accessible. For those working at the operational level, working onsite and directly with machinery, need a more interactive and intuitive application. 

Another problem is that often different users can come to be employing different versions of the same document. This is especially problematic for MSRAs. Worker’s lives can be put in danger through the inconsistencies of paper based and spreadsheet based risk assessments. While they are comfortable and familiar, they are simply inefficient. 

Best practice is to utilise a solution that keeps all of your team on the same page-and safe through accessing real-time risk assessments in one secure, cloud-based environment that ensures accuracy. Which is where digital based assessments come in.

A Move Toward Digital Risk Assessments

Moving to digital doesn’t simply mean swapping your clipboard for an excel spreadsheet and laptop. What we’re talking about is a far more dramatic (and beneficial) move toward cloud-based apps. 

Specifically an app that allows data collection onsite, shareable in real time, with the people on your team who may be back at the office, or perhaps working on another site. And when we’re talking data, we don’t just mean numbers and letters in a spreadsheet. We’re talking photos  which can be marked up while you’re still standing in front of the machine in question. 

Marked up photos offer  clarity of communication in any risk assessment, and the ability to access them in real-time is invaluable to the assessor. With the MinRisk App the user can draw on the image, pointing out clearly where any hazards reside. This is then automatically  shared with other users of The MinRisk App within the business. This feature allows for the most clear and consistent communication, at a level that is simply impossible with paper-based risk assessments. 

It’s a transformation that marks a move away from traditional data collection and spreadsheets, into the world of mobile digital assessments and cloud storage. What we’ve seen as we’ve helped manufacturers move to the ease and accuracy of The MinRisk App, is a transformation of their machine safety assessment programmes. 

Benefits of Digitising Machine Safety Risk Assessments 

Efficiency and Accuracy:

EVERY client we work with see’s an increase in efficiency and accuracy with their data collection. Accuracy is crucial when communicating risks to personnel.

No double handling and reduction in labour outlay

A switch from paper-based data entry and reports to a cloud based app reduces labour cost. At a time when businesses are trying to operate more nimbly than ever before, setting your machine assessments up in a way that increases accuracy, while decreasing cost is absolutely key. 

Performance metrics and ability to compare and contrast between sites or against industry standards

Where once the only option was to collect data, add into a spreadsheet, then manually create reports for each site, cloud based applications replace these linear time consuming steps with real time, up -to-date, shareable ‘working’ reports, that can continuously update as new information comes to hand. This information can be made accessible to everyone on the team, including machine operators, cleaners and maintenance staff, meaning risk information is put in the hands of those that are most exposed to the risks.

Safety Engineers Reviewing Machine Operation

How have digital risk assessments transformed workplace safety?

Increased ease and speed of communication

Put simply, digital risk assessments reduce risk in the workplace and increase team safety, because they ramp up the speed of communication, keeping on top of any changes in machinery safety and by increasing the likelihood and ease of engagement and collaboration with each member of the team.

E-LOTO cards 

There are also key add-on benefits of cloud based systems like The MinRisk App such as e-LOTO cards. LOTO (Lock Out – Tag Out) is an established set of procedures created for every machine at a site or plant to Lock Out and Tag Out each energy source of an individual machine during its cleaning and maintenance, or repair stages. Going digital with e-LOTO cards with a cloud based app can be an additional layer of protection. Long winded documents that usually sit in a manual on a shelf somewhere and are rarely looked at, are replaced with eLOTO cards, which are concise and available in a mobile device for quick reference and verification by any party at the machine until the LOTO card is applied.

Machine Safety Expert in Factory Setting - LOTO Card

Does moving from paperwork to the cloud sound like just the solution for your Machine Safety Risk Assessment Programme? We would love to walk you through the process further, and show you just how easy and cost effective it can be, reach out today.