Machine Guarding - Hasmate
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Machine Guarding

Machine Guarding

It’s frustrating to continually read about court cases where the lack of guarding has led to horrific injuries. Too often these result in another hard-working family man or woman having to suffer the effects for the rest of his or her lives.

Why?

Is it because someone never took or allowed the time to make sure they were safe at work, or is it because the health and safety message has still not got through to some people?

700 – 800 NZers and their families every year can’t be wrong with this assumption.

I would have thought that the radical changes in the 2015 health and safety legislation would have made a difference – but obviously it has not.

In the last part of 2018, four manufacturing companies have been sentenced under the Health and Safety at Work Act on charges for inadequately guarding machinery. So far this year, 11 manufacturing companies have been sentenced for machine guarding failures.

Read WorkSafe’s press release (12 October 2018) about this.

It has been 25 years since health and safety legislation was first enacted in New Zealand, and these kind of workplace tragedies are still happening. WHY???

Read an article about the fine Alliance Group got for failings that resulted in an inexperienced worker amputating their hand.

If the cost of court penalties is not enough to start to make a difference, then perhaps businesses need to look at the total cost of the incident. The shareholders in the companies concerned should be asking questions about the director’s attitude about their corporate and social responsibility.

In nearly all these prosecutions and many others I have read, there are several common denominators:

  1. inadequate machine guarding;
  2. no risk assessment undertaken;
  3. no Safe Operating Procedure for the machine; and
  4. inadequate training for the machine operators in the use of the machine.

The consequences of the Alliance Group accident is appalling, but what is even worse was the fact that the worker even had the ability to open a machine that was still in operation. Add to that, the lack of training, supervision, and that he even wrote his own notes to remember what to do is unbelievable.

Having worked in this industry previously, I can understand the complacency of some companies, but in this day and age this should not have to happen, there is no longer any excuses.

Guarding machinery

Here are a number of suggestions for your business to follow, so you don’t get into the same situation:

  1. As the business owner, attend a training programme with your H&S manager and senior managers;
  2. Train your staff;
  3. Be prepared to involve your employees (after all, they may be a victim of an accident involving your machinery);
  4. Review your accident registers over the past 2 years to identify any accidents or near miss accidents or trends involving machinery;
  5. Set up a process to identify and to list all your machinery and equipment.
  6. Examine each machine or article of equipment and using a check list, ask the following questions:
    1. Has a risk assessment previously been undertaken on the machine, to develop a level of risk based on the likelihood and consequences of an accident happening?
    2. Has this been recorded and communicated to the users of the equipment?
    3. Can this machine be opened when it is operational?
    4. What is the likelihood that a door or hatch that has prime movers or parts being opened or accessed?
    5. Are they fitted with cut-out/isolation devices to automatically stop and isolate the machine?
    6. Are the doors or hatches suitable and can be secured?
    7. Is there a risk of entanglement and crushing?
    8. Are there any impact or shear points?
    9. Can materials be ejected?
    10. Can there be a release of potential energy or hot fluids?
    11. Is there a risk of cutting, stabbing or puncture, leading to amputation?
    12. Are there extremes of temperature?
    13. Is there exposure to live electricity?
    14. Is there direct exposure to chemicals, suffocation or biological factors?
    15. Is there a risk to pressure or vacuum?

If you answer yes to any of the questions from 3-15, then you need to act ASAP.

Machine guarding

Here are a few ideas to consider when guarding machinery, but we suggest that you consult with a trained professional and use AS 4024 as a source of valuable information.

Also, the WorkSafe NZ website is a great source of information.

A priority for guarding machinery:

  1. Permanently welded shut;
  2. Interlocked with supporting mechanisms to prevent access until all movement of power drives blades etc has ceased (micro disabling switches to be difficult as possible to defeat and not cause harm);
  3. Bolted down (access would require a special tool or keys not normally available to the operator);
  4. Presence detection systems (electronic eye and/or sensor beams that shut off the power source or warn of a presence that has broken a security light beam);
  5. All guards must be following AS/NZS 4024.1503:2014 “Guidelines for guarding machinery”.

If you have any questions regarding this article, please contact Hasmate today.