Statistics from the Health and Safety Executive indicate that the number of fatalities occurring in the workplace has been almost cut in half since 1998. While there is no direct evidence to suggest why this is the case, the emergence of various legislation appears to correlate with the improvement.
One of the biggest law changes occurred in 1998 with PUWER. This governs those workplaces which involve their staff utilising equipment, with factories being a prime example.
Just like any legislation, PUWER is comprehensive to say the least. Taking this into account, we have honed in on those businesses which use a factory and pinpointed some of the key points the regulations try to address.
One issue that remains consistent through the regulations is that anybody who is operating the machinery must be adequately trained. The dutyholder must ensure that operators don’t just have the correct skills, but also have sufficient experience and even the correct physicality’s to utilise the machinery. This doesn’t just apply to those individuals who will be using the devices on a day-to-day basis either. Additionally, even if a machine usually operates on a set program, those employees who alter the settings still need to be appropriately trained to ensure that the equipment works as expected.
PUWER also demands that business owners make the necessary precautions to ensure that nobody who is untrained, or even just not authorised to be around the machinery, uses it. While there is no direct advice on how to achieve this, signage or general rules of work are suggested routes to take.
On the subject of signage, a large part of PUWER is that everybody who is charged with operating equipment knows exactly what each switch does. It’s recommended that signs and markings are used to describe the function of each button, to prevent any unintended use of the machinery.
Naturally, the regulations also place a big emphasis on handling emergencies. Every piece of machinery in the facility must be armed with emergency stop controls, while these must be within easy reach as well. Obviously, a lot of this relates to the design of the equipment, but the business owner is still classed as the dutyholder and is therefore responsible for ensuring that machines with the appropriate emergency systems are installed.
Finally, there is an emphasis on cleanliness through PUWER as well. The regulations request that workplaces are kept tidy and clean at all time, in a bid to minimise the risk of slipping. Similarly, any room which houses machinery should be well lit to avoid the chances of an accident occurring.