Work equipment hazards and control
Here we cover the scope and main requirements for work equipment as covered by Parts II and Ill of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998. The requirements for the supply of new machinery are also included. Summaries of PUWER and The Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 1992, The safe use of hand tools, hand-held power tools and the proper safe-guarding of a small range of machinery used in industry and commerce are also included.
Figure 9.1 Typical machinery safety notice.
Any equipment used by an employee at work is gen¬erally covered by the term ‘Work Equipment’. The scope is extremely wide and includes, hand tools, power tools, lad¬ders, photocopiers, laboratory apparatus, lifting equipment, fork lift trucks, and motor vehicles (which are not privately owned). Virtually anything used to do a job of work, including employees’ own equipment, is covered. The uses covered include starting or stopping the equipment, repairing, modifying, maintaining, servicing, cleaning and transporting.
Employers and the self-employed must ensure that work equipment is suitable; maintained; inspected if necessary; provided with adequate information and instruction; and only used by people who have received sufficient training.
Suitability of work equipment and CE marking
When work equipment is provided it has to conform to standards which cover its supply as a new or second-hand piece of equipment and its use in the workplace.
• its initial integrity
• the place where it will be used
• the purpose for which it will be used.
• There are two groups of law that deal with the provision of work equipment:
• one deals with what manufacturers and suppliers have to do. This can be called the ‘supply’ law. One of the most common of these is the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 1992, which requires manufacturers and suppliers to ensure that machinery is safe when supplied and has CE marking. Its primary purpose is to prevent barriers to trade across the EU, and not to protect people at work;
• the other deals with what the users of machinery and other work equipment have to do. This can be called the ‘user’ law, PUWER 98 and applies to most pieces of work equipment. Its primary purpose is to protect people at work.
• Under ‘user’ law employers have to provide safe equipment of the correct type; ensure that it is correctly used; and maintain it in a safe condition. When buying new equipment the ‘user’ has to check that the equipment complies with all the ‘supply’ law that is relevant. The user must check that the machine is safe before it is used.
Figure 9.2 CE mark
Most new equipment, including machinery in particu¬lar, should have ‘CE’ marking when purchased. ‘CE’ mark¬ing is only a claim by the manufacturer that the equipment is safe and that they have met relevant supply law. If this is done properly manufacturers will have to do the following:
• find out about the health and safety hazards (trapping, noise, crushing, electrical shock, dust, vibration, etc.) that are likely to be present when the machine is used;
• assess the likely risks;
• design out the hazards that result in risks or, if that is not possible;
• provide safeguards (e.g. guarding dangerous parts of the machine, providing noise enclosures for noisy parts) or, if that is not possible;
• use warning signs on the machine to warn of hazards that cannot be designed out or safeguarded (e.g. ‘noisy machine’ signs).
• Manufacturers also have to:
• keep information, explaining what they have done and why, in a technical file;
• fix CE marking to the machine where necessary, to show that they have complied with all the relevant supply laws;
• issue a ‘Declaration of Conformity’ for the machine (see Figure 9.3).This is a statement that the machine complies with the relevant essential health and safety requirements or with the example that underwent type-examina¬tion. A declaration of conformity must
• state the name and address of the manu¬facturer or importer into the EU
• contain a description of the machine, its make, type and serial number
• indicate all relevant European directives with which the machinery complies
• state details of any notified body that has been involved
• specify which standards have been used in the manufacture (if any)
• be signed by a person with authority to do so;
• provide the buyer with instructions to explain how to install, use and maintain the machinery safely.
This can help to decide which equipment may be suitable, particu¬larly if buying a standard piece of equipment ‘off the shelf’.
If buying a more complex or cus¬tom-built machine the buyer should discuss their requirements with poten¬tial suppliers. For a custom-built piece of equipment, there is the opportunity to work with the supplier to design out the causes of injury and ill-health. Time spent now on agreeing the necessary safeguards, to control health and safety risks, could save time and money later.
Note: Sometimes equipment is supplied via another organization, for example, an importer, rather than direct from the manufacturer, so this other organization is referred to as the supplier. It is important to realize that the supplier may not be the manufac¬turer.
When the equipment has been supplied the buyer should look for CE marking, check for a copy of the Declaration of Conformity and that there is a set of instructions in English on how the machine should be used and most important of all, check to see if they think that it is safe.