The identification of hazards is the most important step in any risk assessment because any hazard omitted will result in the associated risk not being assessed. It is important to distinguish between continuing hazards, i.e. those inherent in the machinery when operating under normal conditions, and hazards which can result from failures or error. Begin by making a list of all machinery, taking into account all its life stages, including installation, commissioning, correct use and operation, maintenance and decommissioning.
6 Key Points to Consider when Identifying Machinery Hazards
- Identify hazards by means of physical inspections, task analysis, process analysis and analysis of accident data. Involve your workers and safety representatives, as they are most likely to know about hazards associated with their work.
- You should inspect each machine and the way it is operated to identify any parts, processes, operating procedures, work activities and any danger zones, including moving parts. Make sure that guards are in working order and appropriate for the machine. Guards must protect your operators from ejected materials and rotating parts.
- There are a number of potential machinery hazards, which include the materials or items being processed and internal sources of energy, e.g. electricity. According to HSE, the following are the most common situations which result in injury or serious harm to people:
- A worker coming into contact with parts of a machine by being drawn into a machine or position where they may sustain injury;
- Being caught between moving parts of the machine and a fixed structure such as a wall;
- Being struck by parts of the machine;
- Being struck by ejected material;
- Being struck as a result of release of potential energy in machine components or materials being processed.
- Consider also hazards relating to the location of the machine, the environment in which it operates and proximity to other structures. Don’t forget to include the consequences of reasonably foreseeable misuse or malfunction.
- Other factors to take into account include manual handling, fatigue, workflow and design and ergonomics.
- Hazard identification and management should be conducted and monitored on an ongoing basis to ensure control measures are in place and working and that no new hazards have been introduced.
Failing to address machinery hazards usually results in court cases and large fines. Take action now to prevent this from happening to your organisation.