Avoiding accidents at work involving machinery & work equipment
Accidents at work involving equipment and machinery are a common cause of injury. Employers have a duty to take adequate steps to protect employees safety when using work equipment. Failure to prevent machinery injuries and work equipment accidents can lead to a claim for personal injury compensation.
Hazards from work equipment and machinery
There are many ways in which work equipment and its use can create a risk of injury. The most common hazards are:
- Entrapment – for example when fingers are caught in the moving parts of a machine
- Impact– when workers are crushed by moving parts of equipment or by other items being processed by a machine
- Contact – when the body comes into contact with sharp edges, hot parts or live electrical items
- Entanglement -when clothing, hair or jewellery become caught in parts of a machine
- Ejection – when workers are hit by parts or objects flying out or off machines
Preventing injuries when using work equipment or machines
Employers have a duty to take adequate steps to prevent injuries when using work equipment. Risks from work equipment can be reduced in a number of ways.
Before any work equipment or machinery is used or installed a risk assessment must be carried out. The purpose of the risk assessment is to identify the hazards and risk of injury that may arise when using the work equipment. The risk assessment should also identify ways in which the hazards and risk may be eliminated or reduced.
Remove the hazard:
The best method is to arrange the system of work so that dangerous or hazardous equipment does not need to be used. If this is not possible other methods of reducing risks must be considered.
Safety design and controls:
It is important that all work equipment has proper safety controls built-in to the design. Well designed work equipment should have:
- suitable operating controls that are easy to see and use
- operating controls that prevent machines from being accidentally turned on
- suitable emergency stop controls
- ‘fail to safety systems’ which prevent the machine operating if there is a fault
- a way of disconnecting the equipment from it’s power source
Employer’s duty to provide suitable work equipment
Equipment should be well designed and suitable for the job.
When selecting new work equipment employers should:
- obtain full information about the safe use of the equipment
- ensure that the equipment has a CE safety mark to show that it complies with standards
- arrange adequate training for using the equipment
Guards on work equipment and machinery:
Where hazards from equipment cannot be avoided, employers should ensure that equipment has proper guards to prevent access to moving or dangerous parts. Types of guards used to prevent work equipment injury include:
- guards fixed in place over dangerous parts of equipment
- guards that prevent the machine working unless the guard is properly in place
- barriers to keep people away from dangerous machinery or equipment
Information & Training in Use of Work Equipment
Any worker who uses or operates work equipment, or any other person who may be affected by the use of the equipment, must be made aware of the hazards involved. This information can be provided by means of instructions, safety notices or warnings.
Any person using work equipment must be properly trained in the safe use of the equipment or machinery. There should also be proper supervision and inspection of the use of work equipment to ensure that safety procedures are followed correctly.
Regular maintenance and inspection of work equipment
Work equipment must be:
- free from faults or damage
- working correctly and safely.
A safe work environment:
The work place in which work equipment is used must be safe and suitable for the use of the equipment. There should be sufficient room to the use the equipment safely and adequate lighting. Floors should be free from any trip hazard which could cause a person to fall whilst using work equipment.
Safe working practice when using machinery and work equipment:
- Any machinery or work equipment must be used within a safe system of work.
- Manufacturers instructions and recommendations should be followed.
- Staff must be properly supervised to ensure that safety instructions and procedures are followed.
Safety procedures for work equipment
Safety procedures will depend upon the nature of the work and the equipment used. Examples include:
- ensuring that staff do not wear loose clothing or jewellery which may become caught in a machine
- banning the consumption of alcohol and drugs by staff operating machinery
- ensuring that only properly trained workers use work equipment
- warning workers against tampering with any machine guards or other safety device
- ensuring that workers maintain a clean and tidy workplace around machinery
- instructing staff to report any faults or defects in work equipment
Use of personal protective equipment and clothing:
This may be necessary when certain hazards from work equipment cannot be avoided. Examples of personal protective equipment and clothing that may be necessary when using work equipment are:
- safety helmets
- safety goggles
- ear protectors
- safety footwear
- types of clothing – for instance high visibility garments
Any personal protective equipment or clothing must:
- be suitable for the task being undertaken
- give adequate protection against the hazard
- fit properly and comfortably
Maintenance, inspection and testing of work equipment:
All work equipment and machinery, including any guards or safety devices, must be inspected and checked regularly to make sure that they are in good, safe, working order.
What to do if the employer gets it wrong
If an employer fails to take proper and adequate steps to protect workers from hazards and risks caused by use of work equipment they could be held liable for any injury sustained. If you have been injured in an accident at work involving the use of work equipment or machinery you may be entitled to make a claim.
Contact us for free advice regarding a work equipment accident or injury and we will assess your claim and advise if a claim can be made. We offer free advice by phone or a free, no obligation meeting and free home visits are also available throughout Lancashire. We are happy to act on a no win – no fee basis. If the claim is unsuccessful we make no charge for our services.
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