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You have just purchased a new machine and hooked up the power source… Is it ready for use?

Simply put, the answer is No. In Ontario, Canada, the law requires you have an inspection conducted to evaluate the safety of the machine. It is the end user’s responsibility to have the equipment documentation, including the inspection in order.

What documentation?

Once the machine is in its proper location, you are required to have documentation that a review was conducted, evaluating the mechanical and electrical aspects of the machine/system, and that the area where the machine is placed is in compliance with applicable laws.

The guidelines outlined by OHSA – Regulation 851 for industrial establishments list a set of circumstances which may exist. If these circumstances are present, then there are applicable sections of the law (OHSA) that must be adhered to. These sections are sometimes vague, made up of broad statements that leave a lot to interpretation. Inspectors typically reference standards to further justify compliance with the law. Most standards include detailed methodologies to evaluate and ensure the equipment has been designed with attention to safety. Standards may include a risk assessment, distances from pinch points or nip hazards, recommended guarding designs, acceptable sensors or light curtains, and many other details for reference.

Although many of these standards are not law, they have become more frequently accepted and expected as part of the inspection report. A risk assessment can be extremely valuable, highlighting the immediate areas of risk and taking proper precautions to mitigate the hazards.

A good risk assessment captures all aspects of the equipment/system being implemented. There are many standard formats for risk assessments, but the objective of eliminating or reducing risk should be the same. My standard procedures include:


  1. Identify potential risks
  2. Define frequency of exposure to the risk
  3. Assess consequences (severity to injury)
  4. Outline existing safeguards and safety systems (Reliability)
  5. Actions to reduce or eliminate risk
  6. Implementation
  7. Repeat assessment


Simplistic Example

A forklift bringing a bundle of sheet metal to a plasma cutting station.

Potential Risk: Sheet metal may fall and slice a bystander

Risk: High

Frequency: Forklift loads machine every hour

Severity: Could be Fatal

Safeguards: New bundles are strapped, Forklift operators are licensed

Actions to Reduce Risk:
Have bundle inside box/enclosed skid.
Operators near sheets are to wear PPE (Gloves)
Clamp bundle skid to forklift forks
Have bundles for daily production delivered on shift with minimal personnel

Implementation: We designed and build bundle storage box

Re-do assessment: Reduced risk from High to Moderate, Low or Eliminated

Our updated assessment following implementation of the ‘Actions to Reduce Risk’ would have the risk reduced to a moderate level. The risk assessments should be filed as part of our inspection and kept on-hand.

The larger the process or equipment to be reviewed, the greater the value becomes, including a risk assessment as part of the inspection. If you have a need for quality equipment or systems including proper documentation contact Carney Fabricating Ltd.


Written by Jason Harnest, Director of Engineering, Carney Fabricating Ltd. (905) 961-4310