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Are your risk assessments up to the job?

Are your machinery risk assessments adequate? Failure to carry out suitable and sufficient risk assessment can place your employees at risk of harm and leave your company vulnerable to prosecution.

Risk assessments are a legal requirement introduced by the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations. As well as being a legal requirement they are an essential tool to ensure the safety of your employees. 

Risk assessment is nothing more than a careful look at what could cause harm and what needs to be done to prevent harm. The Health and Safety Executive has sought to simplify the risk assessment process by breaking it down into 5 steps:

  1. Identify the hazards – what could go wrong?
  2. Who might be harmed and how?
  3. Evaluate the risk – What is the possibility of harm being done, what controls are in place and do you need to do more?
  4. Record your findings – You only need to make brief records of your significant findings.
  5. Review the risk assessment periodically or in the light of significant changes.

The 5 steps above should be followed but we also need to consider other legislation that will apply, for instance the, Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) which requires that equipment provided for use at work is:

  • Suitable for the intended use
  • Safe for use, maintained in a safe condition and inspected to ensure it is correctly installed and does not subsequently deteriorate.
  • Used only by people who have received adequate information, instruction and training
  • Accompanied by suitable health and safety measures, such as protective devices and controls. These will normally include emergency stop devices; suitable guarding that prevents access to dangerous parts of machinery, adequate means of isolation from sources of energy, clearly visible markings and warning devices.

There is also other legislation that may apply for instance:

  • Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations.
  • The Pressure System Safety Regulations.
  • Display screen equipment.

While this may sound complicated, it need not be. Carefully considering what could go wrong while applying the requirements of PUWER (and other relevant legislation) should enable the completion of a machinery risk assessment.

Carrying out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment proactively will protect your employees from harm. It should reduce machinery downtime – due to remedial changes having to be made following an accident­ – and save the costs associated with accidents in the workplace. Overall this should make you more productive and should save you money.

If you would like help with your risk assessments,  contact our team today on 01302 341 344.

By Ainslie Johnson GradIOSHRisk Consultant

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