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February 12, 2004
NIOSH Update:

NIOSH, Partners Enter Third Phase of Project to Evaluate ANSI Machine Safety Guideline

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Contact: Fred Blosser (202) 401-3749


The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and diverse business, labor, and insurance industry partners are entering the third phase of an extensive three-part study to evaluate the effectiveness of an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) voluntary guideline for preventing occupational injuries from industrial machines.

The ANSI guideline, ANSI B11 TR3, describes a strategic process for employers to use in assessing the risk of such injuries. By performing such as an assessment, companies can determine where best to focus efforts to reduce those risks. The ANSI guideline tailors the concepts of an international voluntary standard, ISO 14121, to the U.S. workplace. The new procedure is expected to be particularly effective for reducing risks during machine maintenance tasks.

The NIOSH-led study compares operations involving two similar machines within several companies. In one setting, the ANSI TR3 process was adopted. The matched operation continues to follow traditional safety practices.

In the first phase, completed in 2002, NIOSH led a process to train representatives from the participating companies in the understanding of the TR3 process and the computer software used to put the process into place.

In the second phase, completed in 2003, the representatives in turn formed and trained risk-reduction teams in their companies. The teams were composed of engineering, maintenance, and operating personnel. The teams conducted TR3-based risk assessments using the computer software provided by NIOSH, identified protective measures that would reduce risks, and implemented or tried to implement those measures.

In the third phase now beginning, the sites that adopted the TR3 assessment process will use the protective measures that they identified through the assessment. This phase will take one year. After that, NIOSH and its partners will reassess occupational injury data and other safety indicators in the workplaces, to determine whether there were any differences between the operations that adopted the TR3 process, and those that followed traditional safety practices (importantly, whether indicators suggest that the TR3 process enhanced workplace safety). NIOSH will publish the results of the assessments and make them widely available to employers, employees, safety professionals, and other partners.

These results will help employers generally assess the effectiveness of the ANSI voluntary guideline in practice, and will help them decide whether to invest in new procedures with assurance that the changes are likely to reduce risk and improve safety in their workplaces. Some 4,550 people died from work-related injuries involving industrial machinery from 1992 to 2000, accounting for 8.1 percent of all occupational fatalities during that period, according to National Safety Council estimates.

As a part of Phase 2, participating companies submitted electronic files to NIOSH discussing their experience in using the TR3 process and software for risk assessment. Comments included: AData entry is easy and intuitive. We have been entering our data in >real time= and making adjustments as we go.@ AHaving a method of quantifying the risk works well.@ The participants submitted the files with the understanding that the names of their companies, and which company submitted which comment, would be kept confidential. The comments help NIOSH with identifying and addressing any questions or difficulties that companies may have in applying the TR3 process. A full, conclusive evaluation of the study will not be possible until after Phase 3 is completed.

For further information about technical aspects of the study, contact John R. Etherton, Ph.D., NIOSH Division of Safety Research, email jre1@cdc.gov, tel. (304) 285-5985.

 
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