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HSE reminds employers about machinery safety

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is reminding people responsible for the health and safety of workers about their duties to protect workers using machinery. This follows two serious incidents at a single manufacturing company that resulted in one man suffering serious crush injuries and another needing to have his leg amputated.

At the ensuing court case, the manufacturer of chipboard was fined £25,400 and ordered to pay £11,881 in costs after it pleaded guilty to six breaches of health and safety legislation. It was also ordered to pay a £15 victim surcharge.

In the first incident a worker was clearing a blockage on a machine that takes lengths of trees and logs and chips them as the first part of the chipboard manufacturing process. While clearing the blockage, a set of heavy clamps dropped onto the worker, causing serious crush injuries.

The second incident, which occurred at the same company just three months later, involved a worker becoming trapped between a conveyor and a processing machine. Severe injuries resulted in the worker's leg having to be amputated below the knee.

In relation to the first incident, the company was charged with contravening the following health and safety regulations:

  • Regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, in that it did not carry out a suitable assessment of the risks arising from clearing blockages on the machine and did not ensure that a piece of work equipment was maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair.
  • Regulation 19 of the Provision and use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER 98), in that it did not have a means to safely isolate the stored energy in the machine.

In relation to the second incident, the company was charged with contravening the following health and safety regulations:

  • Regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, in that it did not carry out a suitable assessment of the risks arising from use of the line.
  • Regulation 4 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, in that it did not comply with the hierarchy of control measures to control risk.
  • Regulation 11 of the Provision and use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER 98), in that it failed to guard dangerous parts of the machine.
  • Regulation 16 of the Provision and use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER 98), in that it failed to have stop devices in place that brought the machine to a safe stop.

Following the conclusion of the court case, the HSE is reminding employers that they must prevent or control risks to people’s health from equipment they use at work. Employers must ensure that appropriate risk assessments have been carried out, and that all work equipment is suitable for use. Any assessment and safe working practice must include safe isolation of all sources of energy, electrical and mechanical.

Pilz Automation Technology offers a range of services to help companies avoid incidents such as the two outlined above. Plant Assessments are conducted by Pilz consultants who possess a detailed knowledge of machinery and the relevant safety regulations and standards. If specialised machinery or equipment is involved, Pilz ensures that a consultant with the relevant competence is used. For every item of plant that is assessed, the consultant prepares a report that presents an analysis of the hazards and countermeasures - which are typically guarding, interlocks and control circuits. Should any unacceptable risks be identified, the report suggests appropriate improvements that should be made.

Consultants can also undertake more detailed PUWER assessments and risk assessments for companies that lack either the formal competence or the resources to undertake such assessments themselves.

In addition, Pilz offers training courses that help attendees develop their own understanding of the requirements relating to PUWER 98.

Whichever route is selected by the client company, Pilz can also provide engineering and design services, as well as an extensive portfolio of safety-related products to help solve the problems that have been identified. This is in sharp contrast to many consultants that simply deliver a report that states where the plant or machinery is non-compliant and gives no direction for resolving the issues.

Please contact Pilz to request more information about consulting and engineering services.

This is a news item from Pilz Automation Technology in the UK. All the standards and directives described refer to the UK and may vary elsewhere.

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