From the archive: Just so you know, this article is more than 3 years old.
The study was carried out by Dr Elizabeth Bluff, research fellow with the Research Centre for OHS Regulation at the Australian National University, who has published the findings.
Bluff explored such questions as: what motivated the manufacturers on healthy and safe design; how much did they know about risk assessment and legal requirements; how effective were they in identifying hazards; what strategies did they apply to minimise the risks to the end user; what information on safe use did they supply and how good was it?
Her results revealed most manufacturers to be ignorant of national and international machine safety standards, narrow-minded on identifying the range of hazards machines can present, unsystematic in their approach to risk assessment and sketchy in the safety information they provide.
Most seriously, they are quick to attribute accidents to operators' failure to use their machines "properly", and slow to face up to the fundamental design and construction issues that would make those accidents less likely and less serious.
Although the research relates exclusively to Australian manufacturers, of which only a few supply the UK market, the findings are relevant here.
For a start, we can learn from the firms' failure to think broadly about hazards. Our risk assessments should address not just the obvious mechanical dangers, but also health risks such as noise, vibration and chemical use. Then there are the hazards that arise in the overall operation of the machinery itself, some of which can create significant risks -- work at height and confined space entry being two possible precursors of fatal accidents that have nothing to do with entanglement, direct contact and the other conventional machine hazards.
There is also sound advice on: focusing on creating a "safe place" rather than a "safe person" -- what we (currently) in the EU would call collective rather than individual protection; what makes a good safety instruction -- clear, broken down into steps, illustrated, in the active voice, does not require the user to cross-refer to another document; and on the need for machine safety systems to cover maintenance, clearance of blockages and jams, cleaning and similar activities. These, present some of the most significant risks to the operators involved.
Though readable, this is an academic book. It does make some sensible recommendations about policy and regulation, but it could have been made even more useful to the general reader by a clear statement of what the best manufacturers - and by contrast the worst - did. This would provide a valuable checklist for the practitioner. As it is, though, this information is buried within the text and it requires the reader to tease it out. Nonetheless: challenging, and recommended reading.
As we reported last month, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) issued William Fry Fabrications (WFF) with an improvement notice in February 2011 after inspector James Caren found it had not thoroughly examined and inspected its lifting equipment as required by the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER). WFF had two cranes on site: an Elephant chain hoist with a 500 kg capacity used inside the warehouse; and a larger outdoor Cobal Goliath travelling crane which had a safe working load of 4 tonnes.
The worker, who wishes to remain anonymous, was employed by Signode, a division of ITW, as an electrical maintenance engineer at its Swansea, Wales, site. On 30 May 2013 he offered to help on the polyester sheet production line after one of the five people who were supposed to be on shift called in sick. As he was rethreading plastic into the pinch roller, his glove was caught and the machine dragged in his right hand. He pulled his hand free but his index finger was so badly damaged it had to be surgically removed below the knuckle.
Natural Insulation (formerly Black Mountain Insulation) did not conduct an adequate assessment for processing hemp and failed to adequately guard machinery. The investigation was carried out following concerns raised anonymously.
Merthyr Tydfil-based Advanced Gate manufactured and installed a gate system for Personal Hygiene Services (PHS) in Caerphilly. It featured two leaves – the first was driven by a motor and it powered the second via a chain and sprocket.On 30 September 2014 a PHS employee went to close the gate manually after the mechanism failed. As he pulled one of the leaves, it detached from the runners and fell on him. A vertical rail struck his leg, resulting in severe trauma tearing muscle and nerves. He was hospitalised for ten days and off work for 12 months.
As we reported last month, three National Grid Gas workers and two employees from RS Services were deployed to Ashby Road, Scunthorpe to stop a gas leak. The fault was in the location of a previous repair on the pipe that first needed to be removed.
The pressurised gas cylinder arrived at Walter Heselwood’s site in Sheffield hidden inside a water tank. Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector Kirsty Storer explained that orphaned pressurised gas cylinders often turn up in waste streams destined for recycling sites. Orphaned cylinders do not belong to major companies such as Calor Gas, BP Gas, Flogas and BOC Industrial Gases, which have retrieval arrangements.