UK manufacturers are advised to ensure robust safety checks, as well as competency assessments for staff, are carried out, before restarting machinery safety that has been left idle due to lockdown restrictions or social distancing because of the coronavirus pandemic, suggests Euchner, a specialist in safety engineering.
As the economy starts to recover and factories reopen or ramp-up their production, machines should be inspected to ensure they are still safe to use, a requirement of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER). This includes the use of Risk Assessments to uncover potential hazards that may occur during the reintroduction or scaling up of machinery, to identify and resolve any issues that potentially pose a risk to employees.
A challenge facing the manufacturing industry is the possible effect furlough and self-isolation is having, leading to staff shortages resulting in operators running plant and equipment they may not have experience of, or had any formal training on. This includes the often-stretched maintenance teams. It’s vital that employers reassess the competence of their employees to run machinery they may not have operated for some time.
PUWER is a requirement for companies to ensure that all their work equipment including machinery is safe to operate. Thorough checks before restarting equipment that has been mothballed due to the virus could prevent accidents, injuries or fatalities, as well as avoiding potential imprisonment or unlimited fines under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, which could run into millions of pounds.
Service and consultancy safety professionals from Euchner have experience from across multiple industries and can bring knowledge and best practice to help compensate for staff shortages and bridge the potential gap between an organisation’s Health & Safety (H&S) management and its engineering team by assessing machinery and operating procedures from an independent viewpoint.
Often in-house assessments identify that guarding and safety equipment is present on the machine, such as light-guards, safety interlocks and emergency stops, but the control philosophy behind these devices is not always considered. By utilising Euchner’s experience, engineers and H&S managers can learn the consequences of shortcomings in the safety system that could cause equipment to fail in a dangerous manner.
Euchner does not only undertake PUWER assessments but can also help by suggesting unbiased safety solutions, so that the end user is not only made aware of where their equipment falls short of the regulations but giving them practical advice on how to put it right.
Euchner’s UK&I Services Manager, Paul Simons, said: “We are here to help people negotiate a way through the plethora of safety regulations, standards and best practice, to ensure the safety of their employees and keep production flowing safely. Where there is an inherent danger for personnel operating machinery and potential hazards that need to be addressed, following the letter of the law can be quite complex for companies that don’t have the time, resources or expertise to keep pace with standards and regulations.”
Engaging safety experts is a sound investment by end users and machinery manufacturers, whether their equipment is new on site, has been left idle for a prolonged time, undergone upgrades or they are employing fewer experienced operators. As a global company Euchner can provide the necessary solution for avoiding accidents and making new or existing machinery safe, and help end users avoid the resulting cost both financially and to reputation.
The company’s flexible Service and Consultancy division now provides the knowledge and focus to facilitate health and safety assessments for clients to ensure machinery is safe to use for people coming back to work and compliant with the current regulations and standards including PUWER.