Work Equipment Risks – Machinery Safety
All significant risks must be the subject of an adequate risk assessment and this includes specific risk assessments for a range of work equipment and machinery.
What Can Go Wrong?
Failure to effectively manage machinery safety can lead to serious accidents and prosecutions. For example, a food production company has been fined £20,000 following an incident where a man had his fingertip severed. They also had to pay costs of nearly £5,500.
The Heath and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted the company who pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
The court heard that a worker was asked to repair a dough divider machine at the company's bakery. The employee had removed a guard and was cleaning the middle part of the machine with a screw driver and an airline. As he put his hand into the enclosed space, a dangerous part of the machine severed the tip of his right index finger.
The HSE investigation found that the machine was in a poor state of repair and crucial safety devices were broken or had been removed. In particular, the display screen which provided safety information to the operator was illegible and critical safety switches were disconnected.
Are Your Work Systems Safe?
This case stresses the need for employers to have safe systems of work in place that ensure guards and crucial safety devices are working properly. It also serves as a reminder that maintenance on dangerous machinery must be carried out safely.
Russell Myers, Sentient Health & Safety Manager says:
“Whilst this type of injury is (fortunately) not as common as it used to be, we do still discuss machinery safety with all our clients. We encourage them to have machinery and equipment management systems in place, working with them to establish the appropriate documents. It is a straightforward process which involves ensuring adequate risk assessments are documented, operating procedures are known, staff are trained and supervised and regular maintenance and inspections are carried out. Our procedures spell this out and we can provide all the necessary forms as part of the management system. For clients we carry out regular checks for them during our safety visits so hopefully they won’t fall into this trap”