Almost all safety systems in Ontario have not been designed or written by a PEO licensed engineer. The PEO is the same organization that tried to get Microsoft to stop using the term "Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE)" and largely lost. If you start analyzing real and deployed systems, you will be shocked at what you find.
Yes, there are a few very well designed machines out there that do hardware and software interlocks properly, and in an obviously safe fashion. These are the exception, and I am delighted to find the few exceptions that exist.
However, if you want excellent examples of obviously unsafe things, consider:
- The gas pumps at Shell, Esso, and Petro-Canada. How many brands have an Emergency Stop button? One?
- Toyota cars have a push to start button that is also a push and hold to stop button. So how do you stop the car quickly? Shouldn't a car that has push-button start, also have a push-button stop, that is a different button and works quickly? Why would Toyota follow the Microsoft standard of using a start button to stop, instead of following the very well thought out emergency stop button standards?
- Hospitals have implemented a number of computer systems that are networked, and make the job of nurses quicker, easier and more productive. This reduced nursing costs considerably, and fewer nurses are looking after more patients. However, these systems are not reliable, and the official backup plan is that a nurse will step in and do the job manually if the system fails. Unfortunately, many of these core systems are also running on Microsoft Windows (often Windows XP.) One virus, or one bad update, written by a non-engineer, to wipe out many core systems. A major hospital had its Internet linked systems disrupted because too many people watched Olympic hockey (over the critical internal network.) Has any engineer approved any of this? Does any hospital have enough nurses to cover off in the event of a computer failure?
- Most servo-motor drives are sold with a "not recommended that power be cut by an emergency stop/safety system" warning buried somewhere in the documentation. Ignoring this, and assume braking resistors are used, and power is really cut. Most motors will follow an exponential stopping curve, and appear to coast to a stop. A mechanical engineer doing a PSHSR (Pre-Start Health and Safety Review) will expect the machine to stop quickly, and not coast. The cheapest way to do that is to dynamically brake into braking resistor under full software and transistor control. The second cheapest way is to use a parking brake, but those are not rated for safety and only a fraction of the servo-motor market uses parking brakes anyway. How many PEO licensed mechanical engineers doing PSHSR reviews have passed systems with incorrect software E-STOP circuits and Safety Circuits, and failed E-STOP circuits and Safety Circuits that cut power to the motors in hardware?
Do not depend on the PEO and statutes to keep you safe ...