Procter Machine Guarding is supporting the European Week for Safety and Health at Work, which runs from 24 to 30 October 2016. This initiative is organised by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA), with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) administering the National Focal Point in the UK. For 2016 and 2017 the theme is Healthy Workplaces for All Ages and Procter Machine Guarding is supporting this by offering tools, guidance and advice to help machine builders and end users assess risks correctly and implement measures to protect workers whatever their age.
Primarily the European campaign is aimed at improving safety and health for older workers because the workforce is aging and retirement ages are increasing in many Member States. However, here in the UK we need to bear in mind that apprenticeships are increasing in popularity, which means there is also an influx of young and inexperienced workers.
When assessing machine-related risks, it has to be remembered that older workers may have slower reactions and be less able to work with heavier loads or temperature extremes, while younger workers may lack experience, maturity and intellectual development. However, the key point is that risks should be assessed and reduced to make the machinery suitable for all users, without being blinkered by stereotypical views of any particular age groups.
An international standard covers risk assessments on machinery, the UK equivalent being BS EN ISO 12100:2010 (Safety of machinery. General principles for design. Risk assessment and risk reduction) and this is applicable to complete machines or, for example, particular risks on existing machinery where a concern has been raised. To help with such risk assessments, Procter Machine Guarding has developed a spreadsheet-based Risk Assessment Calculator that is easy to use, even by people who are not familiar with spreadsheets. This is available free of charge from the Downloads page on the company's website.
If the risk assessment indicates that machine guarding is required - or existing guards need to be modified - there are three guides and White Papers from Procter Machine Guarding that provide support. The first is a Guide to Machinery Guarding Standards, which includes a list of standards and tips for designing standards-compliant guards. The second item is a White Paper that explains the latest edition of PD 5304, Guidance on safe use of machinery, a Published Document from BSI that presents practical measures and techniques that can be adopted by users of existing machinery, as well as people modifying, refurbishing, upgrading or changing the use of machinery. The third outlines the differences between BS ISO 14120:2015 and BS EN 953, the standard it recently replaced (Safety of machinery. Guards. General requirements for the design and construction of fixed and movable guards).
In addition, Procter's Safety Distance Calculator aids in the specification and design of guards that comply with BS EN ISO 13857 (Safety of machinery. Safety distances to prevent hazard zones being reached by upper and lower limbs), and the company has also published a short White Paper explaining BS EN 349 (Safety of machinery. Minimum gaps to avoid crushing of parts of the human body).
For those concerned with particular aspects of machine guarding such as conveyor guards, fixings for fixed guards or CE marking of Guards, further White Papers can be downloaded as required.
Finally, for end users who need to assess whether machines meet the requirements laid down in PUWER (the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations), Procter Machine Guarding has just issued a new White Paper explaining the machine guarding requirements and presenting tips for what to look for in a PUWER assessment.
All of the guides, white papers and calculators mentioned above can be accessed free of charge from the Downloads section of the Procter Machine Guarding website at any time, not just during the European Week for Safety and Health at Work.