Most manufacturing businesses use a variety of machinery during the course of their day-to-day operations. Typically this could include woodworking machinery, hammer mills, forklift trucks, compactors and conveyor belts.
All of this machinery represents a potential hazard and without careful operation and supervision, could result in damage, injury or at its worst, death to employees or third parties. Such incidents can result in costly compensation claims and losses under the liability section of your Manufacturers Business Insurance policy.
Any business has a duty of care to provide a safe working environment for their employees. Business leaders or owners have direct responsibility for ensuring that adequate precautions and training is in place to minimise risk, and in turn, accidents or injuries.
Businesses must have a risk assessment programme in place to assess machinery safety risk, as well as a detailed training procedure to ensure safe usage; all which adheres to legislative Health and Safety requirements as well as best risk management practice.
Legislation Applicable to Machinery
To minimise the hazards that your employees may encounter, enforce and abide by these two key regulations:
#1 Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER)
PUWER regulation covers any and all equipment that your employees will use while conducting their job — from simple spanners and hammers to the more complex motorised vehicles. You are required to ensure that every piece of equipment is well-maintained, is in working condition and is regularly inspected for quality assurance.
#2 Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER)
LOLER regulation applies to any equipment used for lifting or lowering loads, including any attachments that would be required to complete the task. This would typically consist of equipment such as chains, slings, cranes, lifts and hoists.
You are obligated to provide equipment that is sufficiently strong enough for any given task, properly installed and marked with the appropriate safety information. Additionally, before any task or process that requires lifting equipment begins, the job should be well-planned and clearly outlined. The equipment must be fully inspected for quality, the area where the equipment is to be used needs to be clearly marked and a report should be filed for your records.
For more detailed guidance on complying with these regulations, can be found on the Health and Safety Executive website: www.hse.gov.uk/waste/machinery.htm.
How To Reduce Machinery Risks
It is common for on-site machine accidents to occur when the incorrect equipment is chosen for a given task, or when a job was not clearly outlined with the proper safety procedures prior to commencement.
Effectively managing your employees’ risks involves planning ahead to ensure that the proper equipment is safely available and that your employees are adequately trained to complete any task.
Identifying the most suitable equipment or machinery for each task requires evaluation and identification, starting with what you want the outcome of the job to achieve, as well as what risks would be associated with it. This forethought should involve the following:
- Outlining the different steps involved in the task
- Inspecting to ensure that all machines’ safeguards are correctly installed and functional
- Performing regular maintenance inspections to ensure that the machine can operate safely
- Training your employees on proper operating procedures for each machine, as well as general workplace safety behaviour
- Labelling all your machines with clear instructions for general switches and emergency controls
- Marking the areas around stationary machines to alert both employees and visitors of the risks
Regular Risk Assessment Programme
To achieve best practice, you should be conducting regular risk assessments of your business processes to recognise any new hazards which may exist and report on the hazards you have already identified.
Involving your employees in this process can also help to determine whether there are more efficient or safer alternatives to current procedures. Irrespective of what your risk assessment uncovers, detail and record your findings:
- What Hazards have been identified
- Who would be impacted
- What safety measures have been implemented to mitigate risk
If you have identified any hazards you identified, who would be affected and what safety measures you have taken to mitigate the risk.
Additional Hazards to Consider
Additional hazards exist beyond the machinery in your manufacturing workspace. However, these hazards— for example, access and work from height, falling objects and confined spaces — are sometimes closely associated with tasks that involve the standard mechanical equipment.
- Access and work from height – In certain situations, such as sheeting or unsheeting a vehicle’s load, your employees must work dangerous height. Enforce the use of access equipment — including ladders, scaffolding and scissor lifts — coupled with fall arrest equipment, if applicable, to mitigate the risk of injury or death related to a fall.
- Falling objects – It is not uncommon for heavy objects to be moved or disturbed during a particular task. However, this movement can prove to be potentially damaging or fatal. Therefore, your employees must be properly trained on how to best move material to minimise the risk of dislodging heavy objects, as well as to avoid work areas that have a high potential of material falling.
- Confined spaces – A variety of spaces can be defined as confined, such as storage tanks, enclosed drains or sewers, enclosed conveyor systems, and unventilated or poorly ventilated rooms. These spaces present a hazard not just to your employees who may have to work within them but to the rescue crew called to extract them. Before any task is assigned that would require one or more of your employees to work within a confined space, conduct a risk assessment to identify the related risks, how best to handle them and, if possible, an alternate method that does not involve working within the space.
Proper Machine Use Promotes Safety
Machines are a vital component to successful day-to-day business operations. While there are inherent hazards associated with these machines, they are avoidable risks. Through thorough examination and planning of your business processes, you can identify possible hazards, learn how best to address their risks, identify what the best mechanical equipment for a given task is, and enforce safety precautions for machine operation. These practices promote proper machine use, which in turn helps bolster workplace safety and curb your facility’s liability.
FREE Insurance Review
Insync specialises in cover for small to medium-sized businesses across the UK, helping you to identify risk and arranging Business Insurance cover to protect your liabilities and assets.
We can Compare Business Insurance quickly and easily - no forms & no fuss - enabling you to find the right level of cover at the right price.
You can request a quotation online, alternatively, why not book a review with one of our expert Gurus at a time that suits YOUR diary.