The HSE (Health and Safety Executive) has issued a new warning relating to regular inspections and maintenance of work equipment. This follows the prosecution of a company after a worker lost four fingers and part of the palm of his hand. The employer in question was fined £19,750 and ordered to pay £6730 costs having pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, which refers to the employer's duty of care.
In the accident, a worker was trying to unblock a machine used for removing debris from sludge at a sewage treatment works when his left hand became caught in the machinery. It transpires that the interlock on the machine’s lid was damaged, leaving dangerous parts in the machine unguarded.
Aside from the employer's duty of care under the Health and Safety at Work Act, it should also be noted that the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (often referred to as PUWER 98) call for regular inspections - and the equipment covered by PUWER ranges from power presses and complex machinery down to hand tools such as hammers and knives. The HSE's free leaflet 'Simple guide to the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998' (indg291) states that those providing work equipment should ensure that it is '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 competence to perform the task) and a record kept until the next inspection.'
If companies are unsure of how to go about performing PUWER assessments, or have neither the resources nor competence in-house, Pilz consultants can undertake this work. Furthermore, if the inspection reports indicate that remedial work is required, Pilz can assist with preparing a manageable action plan. The customer can then carry out the necessary work, sub-contract it to an independent supplier, or Pilz can provide its engineering services directly or put the customer in touch with system integrators or panel builders. Pilz also offers training courses that can help customers acquire the competence needed to carry our PUWER assessments in-house.
Please contact Pilz to request more information about PUWER assessments.