Nearly all fatal injuries at work are connected to equipment in some way, whether due to misuse, faulty equipment, or inadequate assessment of risk. Therefore understanding how to follow regulations and stay safe when using any type of work equipment is essential.
Read our top ten tips below for an overview of what you need to consider when working with equipment.
1. Select Suitable Work Equipment for The Task
When selecting work equipment, you should consider where it will be used and what it will be used for, and if it conforms to product supply requirements. You should also choose ergonomic equipment to avoid strain on the user if possible, take into account how much space is needed for safe access, and any forms of energy or substances produced when in use.
2. Use Risk Assessments to Inform Your Decisions
Risk assessments can help you to inform your decisions all the way from choosing the equipment up to using it for a task. They can help you to identify where hazards can be avoided or reduced by selecting suitable work equipment (such as those with lower noise or vibration levels), how often you should check your equipment for faults, and how to carry out the task using the equipment as safely as possible.
3. Inspect Work Equipment Where Necessary
Work equipment should be inspected if your risk assessment identifies any significant risk to either the operators or others around them when the equipment is installed or used – the inspection results should be recorded, and kept at least until the next inspection. Any work equipment that requires inspection should only be used if you know that inspection has taken place.
The frequency of inspection should be determined through risk assessment, taking into account environmental conditions, manufacturer recommendations, industry advice, and your own experience.
4. Ensure Correct Level of Competence for Inspections
There is no set level of competence for inspections – equipment can be inspected by anyone with the sufficient experience and knowledge to know:
- What to look at
- What to look for
- What to do if a problem is found
The necessary level will vary depending on the complexity of the equipment and how/where it is used, but inspections can often be undertaken by in-house by experienced staff provided that industry advice, manufacturer recommendations, and own experience are all taken into account.
5. Meet PUWER Requirements With Regular Maintenance
PUWER regulations require that all work equipment is ‘maintained in an efficient state, in efficient order and in good repair’, in order to ensure that it does not deteriorate and become dangerous to people using it or around it.
Again, risk assessments are an essential tool, determining the frequency and level of detail of the maintenance work. For example, parts of work equipment that are critical to safety may require a higher and more frequent level of care.
Manufacturer instructions should always be followed, unless reasons for more frequent inspections have been determined, such as intense use or environmental conditions. While you do not have to keep a maintenance log, it is recommended that you do for high-risk equipment as this can help you to plan future maintenance.
6. Carry Out Maintenance Safely
If possible, equipment should be shut down and any residual/stored energy should be released safely. However, it may not always be possible to fully avoid hazards during maintenance, in which case measures should be taken to minimise these risks. This could include:
- Implementing physical measures such as PPE, temporary guarding, and safe means of access
- Issuing safe systems of work and providing monitoring and supervision
- Ensuring the personnel carrying out the task as the proper training, skill, and knowledge and awareness of risk
For high-risk maintenance jobs, specific and in-depth risk assessments may be required.
7. Appoint Competent People for Maintenance
As per PUWER regulations, only those who have received sufficient information, instruction, and competence training should undertake maintenance work. While maintenance can usually be undertaken by competent staff, some high-risk or complex equipment may require the manufacturer or specialist contractors to carry out the work due to the significant demands of the job.
8. Provide Adequate Training
Employers have a responsibility to ensure that all workers who use work equipment have received adequate training – the requirements of which will depend on the job, the equipment, existing competence, and circumstances of the work.
The training should cover not only the health and safety of the worker but also any people who may be affected by the work.
9. Ensure Proper Inductions are Carried Out
Young people are particularly at risk due to their lack of familiarity with the working environment and relative immaturity, therefore proper induction training is extremely important. Risk assessments should determine whether young people can undertake certain activities, taking into account their inexperience, lack of awareness of potential risks and their immaturity.
10. Manage Additional Risks from Mobile Work Equipment
Mobile work equipment have a unique set of risks on top of the PUWER requirements, due to its mobility. You must ensure that your mobile work equipment has the proper safety features to reduce risks, such as seats, restraints and rollover protection, and are suitable for the task.
We are currently running an offer on our Abrasive Wheels, Hand Arm Vibration, and Noise at Work courses for this month only! Get 10% off these online training courses with the code ‘equip10’ at checkout.
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