Work Equipment –Providing and using it safely.
I noticed that a number of the latest HSE cases are concerning accidents with work equipment, so thought that this week I would concentrate on this topic in a hope that it will prevent any similar accidents at your place of work.
This article provides an outline of the requirements of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) and describes what you, as an employer, may need to do to protect your employees in the workplace. It will also be useful to employees and their representatives.
The two HSE cases this week both look at accidents involving work equipment
- Frederick Sharp, 71, of Stamford, had to have his right arm amputated after the incident at UFAC (UK) Ltd’s plant in Oakham, Rutland on 14 January 2014.
- Mr Magano Ojedo sustained serious injuries, including a broken hip which required an operation to fit a metal plate.
Work Equipment – Providing and using it safely.
The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 cover a wide range of basic health, safety and welfare issues and apply to most workplaces (with the exception of those workplaces involving construction work on construction sites, those in or on a ship, or those below ground at a mine). They are amended by the Quarries Regulations 1999, the Health and Safety (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2002, the Work at Height Regulations 2005, and the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015.
What equipment is covered by the Regulations?
Generally, any equipment which is used by an employee at work is covered, for example; hammers, knives, ladders, drilling machines, power presses, circular saws, photocopiers, lifting equipment (including lifts), dumper trucks and motor vehicles. Similarly, if you allow employees to provide their own equipment then it will also be covered by PUWER and you will need to make sure it complies.
Examples of uses of equipment which are covered by the regulations include; starting or stopping the equipment, repairing, modifying, maintaining, servicing, cleaning and transporting.
Do the Regulations apply to me?
If you are an employer or self-employed person and you provide equipment for use at work, or if you have control of the use of equipment, then the regulations will apply to you.
They do not apply to equipment used by the public, for example compressed-air equipment used in a garage forecourt. However, such circumstances are covered by the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSW Act).
The Regulations cover workplaces where the HSW Act applies, this includes factories, offshore installations, offices, shops, hospitals, hotels, places of entertainment etc. PUWER also applies in common parts of shared buildings and temporary places of work such as construction sites.
While the regulations cover equipment used by people working from home, they do not apply to domestic work in a private household.
What do the Regulations require me to do?
- suitable for use, and for the purpose and conditions in which it is to be used;
- maintained in a safe condition for use so that people’s health and safety is not at risk; and
- inspected in certain circumstances, to ensure that it is and continues to be safe for use. Any inspection should be carried out by a competent person (this could be an employee if they have the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to perform the task) and a record kept until the next inspection.
You should also ensure that risks created by using the equipment are eliminated where possible or controlled as far as reasonably practicable by:
- taking appropriate ‘hardware’ measures, e.g; providing suitable guards, protection devices, markings and warning devices, system control devices (such as emergency stop buttons) and personal protective equipment;
- taking appropriate ‘software’ measures such as following safe systems of work (eg ensuring maintenance is only performed when equipment is shut down etc), and providing adequate information, instruction and training about the specific equipment.
A combination of these measures may be necessary depending on the requirements of the work, your assessment of the risks involved, and the practicability of such measures.
Machinery – Why is machinery safety important?
Working with machinery can be dangerous because moving machinery can cause injuries in many ways:
- People can be hit and injured by moving parts of machinery or ejected material. Parts of the body can also be drawn into or trapped between rollers, belts and pulley drives.
- Sharp edges can cause cuts and severing injuries, sharp-pointed parts can stab or puncture the skin, and rough surface parts can cause friction or abrasion.
- People can be crushed both between parts moving together or towards a fixed part of the machine, wall or other object, and two parts moving past one another can cause shearing.
- Parts of the machine, materials and emissions (such as steam or water) can be hot or cold enough to cause burns or scalds and electricity can cause electrical shock and burns.
- Injuries can also occur due to machinery becoming unreliable and developing faults due to poor or no maintenance or when machines are used improperly through inexperience or lack of training.
Before you start
Before allowing someone to start using any machine, you need to think about what risks there are and how these can be managed. You should:
- Check that it is complete, with all safeguards fitted, and free from defects. The term ‘safeguard’ includes guards, interlocks, two-hand controls, light guards, pressure-sensitive mats etc. By law, the supplier must provide the right safeguards and inform buyers of any risks (‘residual risks’) that users need to be aware of and manage because they could not be designed out.
- Produce a safe system of work for using and maintaining the machine. Maintenance may require the inspection of critical features where deterioration would cause a risk. Also look at the residual risks identified by the manufacturer in the information/instructions provided with the machine and make sure they are included in the safe system of work.
- Ensure every static machine has been installed properly and is stable (usually fixed down) and is not in a location where other workers, customers or visitors may be exposed to risk.
- Choose the right machine for the job.
Note that new machines should be CE marked and be supplied with a Declaration of Conformity and instructions in English.
Make sure the machine is:
- safe for any work that has to be done when setting up, during normal use, when clearing blockages, when carrying out repairs for breakdowns, and during planned maintenance;
- properly switched off, isolated or locked-off before taking any action to remove blockages, clean or adjust the machine.
Also, make sure you identify and deal with the risks from:
- electrical, hydraulic or pneumatic power supplies;
- badly designed safeguards. These may be inconvenient to use or easily overridden, which could encourage your workers to risk injury and break the law. If they are, find out why they are doing it and take appropriate action to deal with the reasons/causes.
Preventing access to dangerous parts
Think about how you can make a machine safe. The measures you use to prevent access to dangerous parts should be in the