Fake news vs real facts

Alternative facts = fake news!

• 4 min read

The topics of "alternative facts" and “fake news” are spreading worldwide - even in the safety and standards world, this topic is rearing its ugly head. Frankly, I’m really surprised at not only how people are reading standards, but how they are interpreting them!

In my opinion standards are one of the best things
that have happened to the world,

as standards (particularly ISO) give us a universal way to trade (e.g. machinery) globally; they guarantee that machinery manufactured and used in Europe meets the same criteria and performs exactly as that from the Americas, or from Asia.

Don’t be misled by misinterpretation

Troax Rapid Fix, approved according to directive and standard.

In the last couple of weeks, we have indications that so-called “alternative facts” have begun to invade and interfere in the world of directives and standards. The interpreting of standards and directives can be difficult; therefore, it could be a good idea to check the fact – before “alternative facts” is spread to others. “Alternative facts” are a direct contradiction to the “universality” that the directives and standards represent.

Alternative facts vs directive and standard

Fasteners for fixed and movable guards are the issue we're discussing, so let’s examine what the directives and standards say about the issue.

The alternative facts imply that you need a special key to release the fastening because other systems can be released too quickly leaving personnel open to hazards.

What the ISO 14120 standard ACTUALLY says is:

“Quick release fasteners such as quarter turn screws shall not be used to secure fixed guards from outside the guarded area.

The use of fastenings that can be released quickly from the inside of the guarded area should not be regarded as an alternative to providing an emergency exit.“

So, what's the problem?

The problem is, it could be faster to use a quick release fastener to remove fixed guards than it was to open the door. The reason for this is that interlocking devices aren't easy to defeat. The ADCO group nearly stopped using quick release fastener only to allow other types of fasteners (e.g. bolt or welding) but allowed the system for quick release fasteners to be used from the inside of fixed and movable guards. 

Problem solved.

After a discussion within the ADCO group, about manufacturers using quick release fasteners instead of nuts and bolts, it was decided (in 2009) that it’s only acceptable to use quick release fasteners (e.g. bolt or welding) if the fasteners could be reached from the inside. This was subsequently written into the guide for the Machinery directive §218 and ISO 14120 standard “Safety of machinery -- Guards -- General requirements” for the design and construction of fixed and movable guards.

There is nothing written in those documents that say that fixed and movable guards should ONLY be capable of being opened from the inside, this only applies in the instance where quick release fasteners are being used.

What does the ISO 14120 standard say?

ISO 14120 was developed together with all major Swedish and global manufacturers of fixed and movable guards; companies who use quick release system at the height of 1400 mm shouldn’t use it. The reason for this is that at a height of 1400mm you can reach over and open the guard from the inside thus providing fast access to the hazardous zone.

What the standard (ISO 14120 3.8 ) actually says is that “the removal of fixed guards shall only be done by a person under known and predetermined circumstances as part of a safe working procedure.

Examples of tools that shouldn't be able to use as a tol: knife, fork, keys, coins and nailfile.

No special tool required!

Just to emphasise this point, there are no requirements in the machinery directive or in ISO 14120 that require the use of a special tool. Additionally, if a special tool is developed it should not be possible to use a nail file, coin, fork, knife or a couple of keys instead of the special tool.

If somebody comes with alternative facts. Please check the source! Check the directives (Machinery directive Check the standard (ISO 14120). Better still, contact me. 

Avoiding “alternative facts” and “fake news” might just save someone’s life.


Kim Dahl, Machine Safety Specialist
Kim Dahl
Machine Safety Specialist