“There Are More Safety Guidelines By Sector Than Formal Safety Standards”

DirectIndustry: Can we expect safety guidelines and good practices to become standards on a systematic basis?

Olivier Salvi:Industrial professionals have internal standards and good practices, but they don’t want to share those practices with others to the point that they becomes a formal standard. Because a formal standard (CEN, ISO, IEC) means certification, reporting, external audit. And they do not wish that. They fear bureaucracy, the possible mandatory character of a standard and also giving access to industrial secrets.

DirectIndustry: So the question is less one of international standardization than avoiding the establishment of standards for an entire industrial sector?

DI#6_olivier-salvi-1Olivier Salvi:Standards are the result of a very long process, as they need to be validated by international experts appointed by national standardization bodies. In addition, the experts participating in the standardization process do not necessarily cover the applications in all types of industry.

Standards also need to be consensual. It is always difficult to get to the common denominator. By the time we are okay on a standard, the industry has evolved and this standard is out of date.

DirectIndustry: What might be an alternative to standards?

Olivier Salvi:Professional guidelines by sector are a better option. Groups of professionals would be in charge of working regularly on these guidelines and changing them when the situation evolves. Guidelines are less formal and can evolve quicker with the state of the art. And this is what we observe today. There are more safety guidelines by sector, and even by company, than formal safety standards.

DirectIndustry: What can be standardized then?

Olivier Salvi:The way we evaluate the risks and the consequences, the way we write the safety reports, the way we model simulations can be standardized. There are, for example, generic standards such as EN ISO 31000 for risk management or EN ISO 12100 for machine manufacturing. But standardizing practices is not desirable. Each company has the choice of its strategy and priorities—either introducing safer and tougher equipment or requiring safety training for the workers.

DirectIndustry: Regarding best practices, which industry stands out?

Olivier Salvi:The chemical sector is quite advanced. There are, for example, many safety briefings and zero tolerance regarding misuse of personal protection equipment. The construction sector and manufacturing are starting to use chemical industry good practices.

Research is also developing in the direction of smart PPE, where workers wear clothing equipped with intelligent sensors that indicate when a person enters a zone with toxic products. A lot of efforts are also made to improve safety performance by working on human and organizational factors.




Started in 2005, ETPIS, the European Technology Platform for Industrial Safety gathers industrial players, researchers, NGOs and workers’ representatives. Its mission is to develop new technologies to improve safety of industrial installations and processes in different industrial sectors (manufacturing, oil & gas, chemical…).


Safety of Machinery:

EN ISO 12100: machine manufacturers must provide a risk analysis that identifies all the dangers of the machine prior to manufacturing.

IEC/EN 60204: establishes electrical safety standards for machinery

EN ISO 13849: provides requirements regarding the design and integration of safety in control systems for functional safety

IEC/EN 60947-5: lists requirements regarding the electrical and mechanical design of emergency stop devices.

Risk Management:

EN ISO 31000: formulates principles and guidelines for managing risk, from the identification of threats to the allocation of resources for protection.

About the Author

Journalist and the Editor-in-Chief for DirectIndustry e-magazine. She has years of experience in business issues for various media including France 24, Associated Press, Radio France…

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