Who should be interested in functional safety standards?

Like already explained in the previous blog, safety is a universal asset that is rarely questioned. We expect that all the machines, vehicles and devices are safe to use and thus do not cause unacceptable danger to us or to anyone else. To ensure safety, we apply many kinds of approaches – one of those being functional safety. But who should be then interested in functional safety and how to build functional safety.

Typically, as a user of a system or equipment, one does not need to know about functional safety – other than what is instructed in the user manual. Some basic level of safety is required from all systems and equipment that are sold for use in the European Union area, regardless of whether the use occurs at home, the workplace or somewhere else. Similarly, in order to build and operate an industrial plant, local laws and regulations can be assumed to ensure that safety and functional safety have been adequately addressed in plant design and operation. So, if you are only living nearby to a plant, you do not need to worry.

However, if your work includes designing, developing, maintaining or operating a plant, process, vehicle or machine, then functional safety may be something to be considered. In this case you are typically also more or less familiar with some or many of the standards governing the development of functional safety, such as:

  • IEC 61508
  • EN 50126
  • ISO 13849
  • ISO 26262
  • RTCA DO-178

For those interested, those standards are available from, for example, SFS store or RTCA web store. In addition to those, there are many more standards for different industries. One of the most recent ones is ISO 26262 which was introduced in 2011 to standardize the development of functional safety related to road vehicles and vehicular systems.

At Huld, we are also generally expecting the significance of functional safety to increase even more in future. Technological trends are pushing vehicles, machines and systems to function in a more autonomous manner, even among public presence and people. According to our experience, ensuring safety within such environments calls for even more functional safety.

How the needed functional safety level can be achieved? The sequel of this blog will answer to that question better. Stay tuned.

Text: Timo Vepsäläinen