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Manufacturing: why it pays to have machinery guards

It may sound obscure but Regulation 11. (1) (a) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 is something that all manufacturers need to know about. It discusses the use of machinery guards.

Why? Because failure to understand and comply with this regulation could lead to a very serious accident to your employees, interruption to your production lines, prosecution leading to large fines and/or prison sentences, and publicity that no business wants to have.

This Regulation concerns the need to prevent access to any dangerous or moving part of a machine or to stop any moving part of a machine if someone goes near it.

This applies to anything from a small simple pillar drill or chuck lathe, right up to complex integrated production lines.

In 2019/20 the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) issued 1,948 prohibition notices. This is a notice to stop an activity that involves a risk of serious personal injury. That activity must stop until either an appeal against the notice is won or adequate steps are taken to ensure the activity is safe. This could mean if you do not have the correct guarding on work equipment, you will be stopped from using it.

Businesses could also be prosecuted under Regulation 11 of the Health and Safety at Work Act, in addition to the prohibition notice.

Spotting breaches of Regulation 11 and advising on the actions required is something that SML Consultants excel at. This can be for existing equipment and production lines or newly purchased equipment.

“I was asked by a client to check a new piece of packaging machinery,” SML Consultant Ian Dakin shares. “Using the SML Work Equipment Checklist I identified several issues with the machine, including two dangerous moving parts without adequate guarding. Contacting the supplier resulted in these being fixed without charge and avoided any possible injuries.”

Even large reputable companies can get it very wrong. A recent fine for a multi-national food manufacturer, after an employee’s arm was fractured in a moving conveyor, was £640,000 with £26,234 of costs. Another case involved a yogurt manufacturer that failed to assess a box-making machine, leading to finger amputations of an agency worker. This fine was for £66,000 with over £5,000 of costs.

It pays, morally, legally and financially, to ensure your work equipment is safe and fully guarded. Contact us today for a Work Equipment review.

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