Following the prosecution of two companies under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) is reminding businesses that they need to ensure that workers and contractors are properly trained to carry out risk assessments.
This warning comes in the wake of an accident in which a contracted worker lost two fingertips as he was attempting to repair a damaged shredding machine on site at a recycling company. When an access panel failed to open, a hydraulic jack was used. But the panel then opened and immediately shut again, trapping two of the worker's fingers. During the trial, it was found that the injured worker and his colleague had only been instructed in how to fill in their company's risk assessment form and not how to actually make an assessment of the risks. Furthermore, the HSE investigation revealed that the recycling company had failed to ensure that its employees who issued permits were properly trained and had a clear understanding of how the permit-to-work system should have operated.
Each company was fined £15,000 with costs.
According to Loraine Charles, the HSE Inspector who investigated the case, "A properly implemented permit-to-work system would have ensured that there was a detailed methodology for the work to be undertaken on the shredder. [The recycling company] should have told the engineers that the permit remained valid only as long as the work proceeded according to this methodology. Had this happened, as soon as the access panel failed to open as expected, the engineers would have been compelled to return to the permit issuer, and both companies would have had the opportunity to evaluate what steps were needed to be taken to ensure that the work could be done safely."
The consultancy division of Pilz Automation Technology has consultants available who can perform machinery risk assessments on both new designs and existing equipment. Moreover, if the risks are found to be unacceptable, the consultants can suggest ways in which the risks can be reduced. The client can then take the project forward or Pilz can provide further support through its engineers - who can assist with upgrading safety systems - or by putting the client in touch with system integrators or panel builders as appropriate.
Please contact Pilz to request more information about machinery risk assessment services.