June 20, 2012

Failure to Adequately Guard Woodworking Machinery Costs Employer £5k

An employer, who runs a small workshop, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for allowing access to the crown of a spinning blade.

The magistrates heard that HSE inspectors were forced to issue two separate Prohibition Notices to stop him using the saw until it was made safe.

The employer complied with the first notice, which was served in March 2010, but then failed to replace the guard once it subsequently broke. So, when his premises were re-inspected, the saw was again in use in a dangerous unguarded state.

The Employer was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,305 after pleading guilty to breaching regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 for failing to adequately guard the dangerous part of the machine.

After the hearing the HSE inspector said:

“One slip with the blade and he could easily have severed a limb. The fact he used the saw unguarded after the initial enforcement action is extremely disappointing. He did fit a guard to comply with the prohibition notice, but he clearly failed to understand the serious consequences and then a second notice was required”.

The woodworking industry has one of the highest incident rates in the manufacturing sector, a fifth of which are machinery-related according the latest official figures.

To find guidance on the requirements for guarding machinery clients can log on to ES Gateway, speak to their advisor or phone the advice line.

Some Simple Safety Rules

  • Ensure employees always wear the correct PPE.
  • Ensure employees use push sticks where necessary
  • If noise suppression equipment is fitted to machines, or the area is a hearing protection area, ensure that employees comply with noise reduction instructions.
  • Ensure all machine operators know the positions of the stop button and isolation switches, and the correct stopping procedure Ensure the use the proper guards in the correct positions
  • Ensure operatives never try to clear a jammed machine without firstly switching off the power (at the machine and the isolating switch) and any air valves then checking that cutting heads and other moving parts have stopped
  • Never allow or instruct operators to make adjustments to machines whilst they are in motion.
  • Never allow or instruct employees to stretch or climb over or under a machine whilst any part is moving
  • Devise and implement safe working practices, e.g. for cleaning or cleaning near machinery
  • Provide and ensure that employees use the necessary safety equipment such as ear, eye and respiratory protection
  • Ensure employees don’t wear rings or jewellery in which slivers of wood, etc. might catch. Long hair can be dangerous unless it is restrained
  • Encourage employees to report any sign of defects in machinery guards or equipment or other hazards promptly
  • Ensure employees never leave a machine running unattended
  • Only allow employees to use the machinery or equipment if they have been trained and certificated as competent in its use

Safety of Woodworking Machinery

The provision of an automatic brake is an essential safety requirement of the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 1992. They require that the machinery must be equipped with an automatic brake that stops the tool in a sufficiently short time if there is a risk of contact with the tool while it runs down.

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