Work equipment covers a multitude of tasks that employees are asked to perform, this can range from simple hand tools to automated machinery and some quite complex, multi-part apparatus used every day in workplaces, factories, offices, shops, hospitals, construction sites, and farms etc. Some organisations may find the requirements of risk assessing the use of work equipment, more challenging when considered and assessing the various work equipment and activities.
It should be remember that the risk assessment aims to ensure a safe or safer working life for everyone using and coming into contact with equipment, whether employers, employees, contractors, suppliers, or others.
Breaking the use of work equipment down into a brief summary of duties placed upon and employer shows a requirement to;
•Ensure that equipment is suitable for its intended use;
•Consider the working environment when choosing equipment;
•Maintain equipment in good order;
•Train and inform staff in the use of work equipment, including such procedures as daily checks and defect reporting;
•Only allow trained personnel to use work equipment;
•Ensure equipment is provided with effective safeguards such as protective devices, markings and warnings.
As is with the common theme across health and safety legislation there is an inherent requirement to carry out risk assessments for each job, not just those using work equipment, this involves:
•identifying hazards — anything that can cause harm;
•assessing risk — the chance of harm actually being done (this helps you to work out what action to take to eliminate and reduce those risks);
•eliminating and reducing the risk — ask yourself whether it's possible to eliminate any of the risks, perhaps by working out different ways of doing things; if it's not possible to eliminate all the risks, list ways to reduce them and identify the precautions to take.
Many serious accidents at work involve the use of machinery. People can be injured by machinery in five different ways. Some machines can injure in more than one way. The five ways are:
1.TRAPS: The body or limb(s) become trapped between closing or passing motions of the machine. In some cases the trap occurs when the limb(s) are drawn into a closing motion, for example in-running nips.
2.IMPACT: Injuries can result from being struck by moving parts of the machine.
3.CONTACT: Injuries can result from contact of the operator with sharp and abrasive surfaces. Alternatively, contact with hot or electrically live components will cause injury on contact.
4.ENTANGLEMENT: Injuries resulting from the entanglement of hair, jewellery, items of clothing in moving (particularly rotating) parts of machinery.
5.EJECTION: Injuries can result from elements of the workpiece or components of machinery being thrown out during the operation of the machine, for example sparks, swarf, chips, molten metal splashes and broken components.
ASSESSMENT OF RISK
The level of risk depends upon the circumstances. These include the type of machine and what it is used for, the need for approach to it, ease of access, and the quality of supervision of the operator’s behavior. The level of risk also depends upon the knowledge, skills and attitude of the person(s) present in those circumstances, and an individuals awareness of the hazards and the skills needed to avoid them. The ability to identify those at risk and the level of risk presented by work equipment is important and will be dealt with in much greater detail during the course.
It is important to distinguish between continuing danger associated with the normal working of the machine, such as not having guards fitted where necessary to protect the operator, and those arising from the failure of components or safety mechanisms, such as the breakdown of the guarding system.
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