Safety Testing  (© sdecoret / Fotolia.com)
Safety Testing (© sdecoret / Fotolia.com)

Safety testing provides a very important role and can help to prevent serious accidents as well as protecting a company’s reputation. This post will look at both safety testing for new products and for premises.

In a time where everyone is suing one another, it has never been important for businesses, product manufacturers and organizations to make sure their products are safe.

If someone buys a product and they end up getting injured, then not only will they likely sue the product manufacturer, but they are also liable to spread the word and to damage that company’s reputation.

While properly safety testing a new product or premises requires an investment of time and money on the part of the company in question, this is a very important investment. And because so many companies now recognize this, the safety testing market is one that is enjoying steady growth.

Safety Testing for New Products

Engineering is essentially the process of coming up with mechanical or structural solutions to a range of problems. This then essentially means applying a range of different methods and techniques in order to build a structure or design a product that will be safe for use and that will fit the required specifications.

However making sure that your product or solution is safe and reliable can often be easy to overlook and there are many different mistakes that are easy to make that might not make themselves known until long after your design is being used. Due to something called 'absence blindness' it is difficult to test for things that 'aren't there' and that means that you often won't notice a flaw in your design until it causes some kind of noticeable problem.

Furthermore, when most of us come up with product designs and construction plans, we will focus on function and on meeting the set criteria. Safety is of course a concern, but often we don't notice it so easily because it doesn’t draw as much attention to itself and because it isn't part of the specification per se - often instead being implied or presumed.

So how do you make sure not to fall foul to these cognitive biases and blind spots, and to ensure that your product is not just effective and useful, but also able to stand up to extensive use without breaking? Here we will look into some methods you can use.

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Prototypes

With modern digital manufacturing techniques and any outsourcing of production, it is easily possible to design and release a product without ever actually getting to see it or interact with it in person. This then means that any small or even major problems can go unnoticed. Ordering a prototype then is an important step in the production of any product and should help you to fix design flaws and make improvements early on. If you are engineering a commercial or industrial building then you can use a miniature instead of a prototype.

Stress Testing

Stress testing means testing your product under stress. Here there are two important types of stress testing to consider and use. Of course it's important to test your product itself, and not just under the conditions it's likely to be used - but also in more extreme situations. A chair designed to hold the weight of one person for instance should be tested under the weight of two to three people so that you know what its limitations are.  At the same time though it's also useful to test the materials you are going to be using and to look into precisely the temperatures/pressures etc. that they can withstand on their own.

Alpha and Beta Testing

A beta test is a test where you release your product to a small group of people to use as though they were customers/clients. This way you can get feedback on how your product or design performed and they can flag up any issues. Alpha tests come before this stage and mean doing in-house testing, which can save you time and money before you use the beta.

Keeping Work Premises Safe and Accident Free

Keep the Office Tidier: The first thing that you can do to keep your office safer is to avoid leaving clutter around that could potentially cause a trip hazard. Even the smallest discarded pencil on the floor can cause a nasty fall, and this is particularly true if there should be fire alarm or another emergency that causes everyone to rush.

Consider Layout: Just as clutter on the floor could cause a trip or fall, so too could a jutting out corner cause someone to injure themselves when in a hurry. What's also highly important then is to think about how you can create 'traffic lanes' in your office between seats and exits and keep those clear and able to handle large volumes of human traffic.

Take Safety Protocols Seriously: Most offices should have safety protocols in place in case of fire or other emergencies, and it's your responsibility to learn these and to make sure that everyone else takes them seriously too. If you hear a fire alarm then proceed with the drill even if you suspect that it's only a test, and when you're given the safety information to read make sure that you actually read it and familiarise yourself with it thoroughly. Likewise follow any safety procedures relating to the nature of your work, whether that means wearing the correct safety gear or sealing an airlock before beginning work.

Test Equipment: Many safety issues are caused by malfunctioning equipment, and if safety equipment should stop working in particular then of course this can be very dangerous. Take it upon yourself to check any equipment you are using regularly and to look out for potential deterioration.

Don't Rush: When you're moving through the corridors, lifting things or carrying out any physical work, the secret is very much 'less haste and more speed'. Make sure that you are not rushing, give yourself plenty of time and always make safety your first concern.

Raise Concerns With Your Manager: If there are some issues that you are aware of in your office whether it's to do with equipment or the layout of the furniture itself, then it's important that you raise this with your manager. Don't be afraid to 'make a fuss', when safety is the concern it is critical that you do just that.



         



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