Machinery Risk Assessments

Do I Need a Machinery Risk Assessment?

If you think the answer to this question is no, we can assure you, you are both morally and legally WRONG! No matter how large or small your organisation is, and no matter the size and complexity of the machinery, if you employ operators of machinery, you must always Assess the Risks! Ignorance is no excuse, as we'll discuss below.

Maintaining a safe and risk-free workplace environment is the number one priority of any world-class manufacturer. One of the most effective ways to achieve this is by conducting comprehensive machinery risk assessments. These assessments help to identify potential hazards and risks associated with machinery operations, which, in turn, aids in ensuring compliance with safety regulations and standards. Organizations can significantly reduce the likelihood of accidents and injuries, thereby safeguarding their valuable employees by ensuring they have an up-to-date Machinery Risk Assessment. 

All organizations large and small, in the UK have a legal obligation to hold a current Machinery Risk Assessment, for all equipment in the workplace, under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) Regulations. Should the unthinkable happen and an employee is hurt or injured in the workplace, it is the first thing the Health & Safety Executive is going to want to see. You can see from the recent cases below that the HSE is not afraid to make an example out of a business in the name of safeguarding their employees for them!

UK Manufacturing £200K
Fractured Arm

A 22 year-old was injured in the workplace. In May 2023 Gates Engineering & Services LTD was fined £200,000 and forced to improve it's safety practices.

HSE Logo
Loss of Eye

An operator lost his eye and suffered fractures to his face. In July 2023 Sofidel was fined £1,000,000 and the company forced to improve it's practices.

Network Rail was fined £1,200,000 in August 2023 after Engineer, Kevin Mauger was crushed to death inside of a rail welding machine.  They have been forced to improve their practices.

One thing is for sure. If the equipment was properly Risk Assessed and control measures maintained, all three of the people effected above would have returned home from work those days uninjured. Collegues and loved ones wouldn't have been subject to the emotional trauma. The three effected organisations have suffered irrepairable brand image damage since the incidents, and the main customers of these businesses will take that into consideration when dealing with them in the future.

In all of the cases above, there is no justification for what has happend. Financially the businesses are worse off, for not carrying out the necessary assessments and implementing the control measures. The workforce will have suffered trauma, and potential new employees will now see the organisation as risky. Customers will question the ethics, and their own corporate image through the continued use of those suppliers. It really is not worth the gamble of life!

Who Can Conduct My RA?

When it comes to conducting a machinery risk assessment, it's important that the responsibility falls on someone who is trained and competent to do so. This could be a safety professional or engineer who has expertise in machinery and equipment safety. Whoever conducts the assessment should be familiar with the specific machinery being assessed, as well as any relevant safety regulations and standards.

Ultimately, the goal of a machinery risk assessment is to identify potential hazards and risks associated with the equipment and develop countermeasures to mitigate those risks. So, it's crucial that the assessment is conducted by someone who is well-versed in the process and has a strong understanding of machinery safety best practices. Very few organizations have someone on their payroll who ticks all of those boxes, and unless they design and implement their own machinery, they probably wouldn't need to employ someone to do this. At Leivers, we have a HSE and NEBOSH trained Risk Assessor who specializes in the design and construction of new and existing machinery. In cooperation with your engineering and operational teams, we can competently Risk Assess your equipment and certify your machinery as safe to operate on your behalf.


What Next?

Carrying out the Risk Assessment is the first step. Once the risk has been identified an employer needs to do what is reasonably practicable to mitigate the risks further. That means if it’s reasonable, the organization should reduce the risk further. What's reasonable is subjective though, and different for every organization. What’s reasonable for a blue-chip company, is not going to be reasonable for a local bakery. That being said, that doesn’t excuse the local bakery for operating dangerous machinery! Don't forget, things change, machinery is often modified or moved, and therefore the Risk Assessment MUST be reviewed at suitable intervals! We recommend annually but if you are certain nothing has changed or moved, this can be longer.

Is A Machinery RA The Same As A PUWER Assessment? 

In short, no. A PUWER assessment is focused on ensuring that equipment and machinery are safe to use from a regulatory point of view. It involves examining the equipment against regulations, using specifications and drawings, and then identifying any shortcomings. The PUWER Risk Assessment has a much longer life due to the slow turnaround in technology and regulations. The HSE recommends A PUWER assessment be reviewed every 3-4 years OR in the event of a significant modification or breakdown that has affected the safety functions of a machine. 

On the other hand, a Risk Assessment is a broader process that looks at all aspects of a work environment to identify potential hazards and risks to employees. It considers factors such as the nature and environment of the work, the equipment being used, and the skills and experience of the workers involved. While both assessments are important for ensuring overall workplace safety, they have different focuses and approaches. 

Whether you need a Machinery Risk Assessment or PUWER Assessment, Leivers can support your organization in maintaining its commitment to the health, safety and well-being of its workforce. See the Contact page for ways on how to get in touch.

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