Review: free training course in Electrical and Functional Safety

19 November 2015

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Review: free training course in Electrical and Functional SafetyThroughout 2015 Phoenix Contact, TUV SUD Product Service, Mechan Controls and Axelent have been co-hosting free Electrical and Functional Safety training courses at venues around the UK to help machine builders (OEMs), system integrators, panel builders, installers and end users understand electrical safety, the concept and application of functional safety, the applicable Directives, Regulations and standards, and the implications for attendees. The final workshop took place at the Imperial War Museum Duxford on 3 November and was attended by approximately 40 engineers and managers, plus Jon Severn, the Editor of, who has written the following review.

Most of the day was devoted to presenters outlining and explaining some of the most important machinery safety standards. Those covered in most detail were:

  • BS EN 60204-1 Safety of machinery. Electrical equipment of machines. General requirements
  • BS EN ISO 14119 Safety of machinery. Interlocking devices associated with guards. Principles for design and selection
  • ISO 14120 Safety of machinery. Guards. General requirements for the design and construction of fixed and movable guards, which is replacing BS EN 953
  • BS EN 13857 Safety of machinery. Safety distances to prevent hazard zones being reached by upper and lower limbs
  • BS EN 349 Safety of machinery. Minimum gaps to avoid crushing parts of the human body
  • BS EN ISO 13849-1 Safety of machinery. Safety-related parts of control systems. General principles for design
  • BS EN ISO 13849-2 Safety of machinery. Safety-related parts of control systems. Validation
  • BS EN 62061 Safety of machinery. Functional safety of safety-related electrical, electronic and programmable electronic control systems

Stewart Robinson of TUV SUD Product Service delivered many of the presentations, drawing on his years of experience in developing safety-related control systems and assessing existing installations. It was also clear that he has an in-depth understanding of machinery safety standards, explaining aspects of the standards that he believes to be flawed. He also highlighted several subclauses from the standards - such as the colours of warning lamps on machines - that are not always complied with; however, he stressed that it was arguably more important for companies to ensure warning lamp colours are consistent across all of their machines.

Given that EN 1088 ceased to provide a presumption of conformity to the Machinery Directive in April 2015, Stewart Robinson took time to explain some of the important differences between this standard and the International Standard that has replaced it, namely ISO 14119:2013.

Another important change to the machinery safety standards is the replacement of EN 953 by ISO 14120. This was covered in the presentation by Marcel Darroch-Davies of Axelent. He also discussed some of the other requirements relating to machine guarding.

Functional safety - EN ISO 13849 and EN 62061

In the afternoon there were presentations focusing on functional safety, including a very useful session in which software tools for performing EN ISO 13849 and EN 62061 calculations were introduced, and the pros and cons discussed. The most widely used tool is Sistema, but others are the PAScal tool from Pilz and the Siemens Safety Evaluation Tool that can be used online free of charge (while Sistema can be used only for ISO 13849-1, the Pilz and Siemens tools can be used for both ISO 13849 and EN 62061).

Simon Davis of Phoenix Contact gave an interesting presentation on the practical application of machine safety. In case anyone had been left in doubt as to the value of machine safety, Simon Davis showed the costs that might be associated with a relatively minor accident involving an unguarded drilling machine. The figures - which came from the HSE website - showed that the total cost could easily be £45,000, which clearly demonstrates the financial advantage of getting machine safety right. Of course the starting point will always be a risk assessment, so Simon Davis also listed a number of different tools and resources that can help in performing machine risk assessments. He also mentioned the Phoenix Contact Safety App for iPhone and iPad.

Any questions?

During the presentations attendees were encouraged to ask questions, and these were either answered at the time or, if the answer needed to be checked, later in the day. Breaks for coffee and lunch provided ample opportunity to talk to the presenters and other representatives from the four co-hosting companies, and there was a tabletop exhibition to showcase some of these companies' latest products.

In addition, there was a chance to see some of the aircraft at Duxford, including a Vulcan and Concorde.

More free Electrical and Functional Safety workshops are being planned for 2016, with dates and venues to be confirmed. The format will probably be similar, though the organisers are reviewing the feedback from this year's events to incorporate any changes they feel will make the workshops even more worthwhile for attendees.

Overall, the event on 3 November was excellent. The content was pitched appropriately for the audience, providing the right level of information but not getting bogged down in minutiae; this meant a great deal of ground could be covered in the time available. And although the co-hosting companies all have products and services to sell, the presentations were focused on standards and machine safety, and were not thinly disguised sales pitches. I would certainly recommend the 2016 Electrical and Functional Safety courses.

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