Fact Sheet: Machinery and Equipment

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1 Fact Sheet: Machinery and Equipment Plant refers to the machinery, equipment and appliances that are used in a workplace. They are essential pieces of equipment in the workplace. Some machines might seem harmless enough but there are hazards associated with their use, and precautions should be taken to protect the health of workers. There are many hazards associated with plant, and proper controls must be put in place. The harmful effects of these hazards are many, from minor shortterm injuries to amputations and fatalities. Mechanical hazards Mechanical hazards that cannot be eliminated must be controlled to prevent harm. The action of moving parts may have sufficient force in motion to cause injury to people. When assessing machinery and equipment for possible mechanical hazards, consider: Machinery and equipment with moving parts that can be reached by people Machines and equipment that apply high force or rotational speed may eject parts, components, products or waste items that can hit people causing bruising, eye damage, or body penetration Machinery and equipment with moving parts, such as booms or mechanical appendages (arms), that can reach people Mobile machinery and equipment, such as forklifts, pallet jacks, earthmoving equipment, operated in areas where people may gain access and be hit or struck. Machines and equipment that are mobile may: 1

2 o Collide with people and trap or pin them between solid objects or other equipment o Overturn during operation due to excessive forces applied (e.g. forklifts, ejecting operators or injuring other workers). Non-mechanical hazards Non-mechanical hazards that cannot be eliminated must be controlled to prevent harmful exposure. Non-mechanical hazards associated with machinery and equipment can include harmful emissions, contained fluids or gas under pressure, chemicals and chemical by-products, electricity and noise, all of which can cause serious injury if not adequately controlled. In some cases, people exposed to these hazards may not show signs of injury or illness for years. Where people are at risk of injury due to harmful emissions from machinery and equipment, the emissions should be controlled at their source. When reviewing machinery and equipment for possible non-mechanical hazards, consider how machines and equipment can affect the area (environment) around them. Non-mechanical hazards INCLUDE: Dust Mist (vapours or fumes) Explosive or flammable atmospheres Noise Heat and Cold (radiated or conducted) Ionising radiation (x-rays) High intensity light (laser, ultra violet) Molten materials Heavy metals (lead, cadmium, mercury) 2

3 Chemicals Steam Pressurised fluids and gases Ignition sources (flame or spark) Electrical Access hazards Access hazards that cannot be eliminated must be controlled to provide safe access (for operation, maintenance, repair, installation, service, cleaning or decommissioning). People must be provided with safe access for work they perform in, on and around machinery and equipment. A stable work platform suited to the nature of the work, which allows for good posture relative to the work performed, sure footing, safe environment and fall prevention (if a fall may occur) is a basic requirement. People performing these tasks must be provided with the means to get themselves and any equipment they require on to the roof with no risk or minimal risk of fall or injury. When thinking about safe access to machinery and equipment, provide sufficient space for comfortable access and think about: Who will be working on or around the machinery and equipment? What people are required to work in enclosed areas where the atmosphere could be harmful, such as pits, tanks or storage vessels? What equipment or material is needed to be carried to undertake the task? Where and when is access required for operation, maintenance and cleaning? How will people gain safe access (walkway, gantry, elevated work platform or ladder)? 3

4 What work will be carried out during access? Will people be near or exposed to a mechanical or non-mechanical hazard at the time of access? Has consultation occurred with employees or contractors regarding how they intend to gain access, what equipment and work platform or structure is best suited for the intended task? Risk control of general hazards When exposed to machinery and equipment hazards risk controls must be applied to the hazards to prevent or reduce the risk (chance) of injury or harm. The NSW Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000 require the highest order of control be applied first. The Hierarchy of Controls Elimination Remove the possibility of exposure to the hazard by eliminating the hazard at the source. Substitution Replace machinery and equipment with safer models, or replace the hazardous process with a non-hazardous one. Engineering controls Less hazardous options may include automation, enclosure, interlocks, warning signals or interlocking guards. Administrative controls Use systems of work to reduce risk i.e. good policies and procedures, rotation of staff to reduce exposure to any hazard. 4

5 PPE Personal protective equipment can reduce injury severity, but is the least preferred option of the hierarchy of controls as it relies on employee behaviour. Effective machinery and equipment risk controls reflect some or all of the following characteristics: The hazard is controlled at its source Contact or access to the hazard is prevented Sturdy construction (correct materials with few points of potential failure) Fail-safe (failure of the control system to be effective will result in machinery shut-down) Tamper-proof design (as difficult as possible to bypass) Presents minimum impediment to machinery and equipment operator Easy to inspect and maintain Does not introduce further hazards through the risk control action. Guarding Manufacturers of machinery and equipment are legally required to make sure dangerous parts are safely guarded so that operators and others are protected from injury. Machine guarding is made for all kinds of machines, such as custom-made barriers for safety, standard fencing, fully computerized light curtains, two-hand operating devices and plastic guards. And also include power take-off guards, interlocked guards and guards on belts, couplings, power saws and chain saws. (As described in Australian Standard AS 4024, part 1601 and part 1602, Safety of Machinery) 5

6 Your employer or supervisor must make sure machinery and equipment is correctly guarded. A guard can perform several functions including: Denying bodily access Containing ejected parts, tools, off-cuts or swath Preventing emissions escaping Forming part of a safe working platform. Guarding is commonly used with machinery and equipment to prevent access to: Rotating end drums of belt conveyors Moving augers of auger conveyors Rotating shafts Moving parts that do not require regular adjustment Machine transmissions, such as pulley and belt drives, chain drives, exposed drive gears Any dangerous moving parts, machinery and equipment. If access is generally not required, a permanently fixed barrier is the preferred option. Key Point Keep all guards in place - they are fitted to protect you from moving parts. Workshops Employees may be involved in work tasks and maintenance work in a workshop including machinery or vehicle maintenance, using power tools and saws, welding, cutting and grinding. To reduce the risk of injury, employers or supervisors must: 6

7 Provide training, instruction and supervision for all work tasks, such as cutting, welding, grinding, heating and using abrasive power tools Install safety switches or Residual Current Devices (RCDs) Store hazardous substances and dangerous goods, tools and equipment safely Provide suitable tools for the job Make sure that fuel, compressed air, steam equipment, electrical or other services are installed correctly and are in safe working order. Working at height Providing people with a suitable work platform for the task being undertaken reduces the risk of injury from falling from machinery and equipment. Often safe access equipment, made available during installation of machinery and/or equipment, is removed after commissioning. Workplace managers may not have considered or recognised the need to provide similar means to gain safe access to parts of machinery and equipment at height, or in awkward locations for maintenance, repair, service or cleaning activities. Where safe working platforms are used and the risk of a fall remains, travel restraint and fall-arrest harnesses must be used at a suitable point of attachment. Harness systems, anchor points and shock absorbing lanyards must be compatible at each point of attachment from the anchor point to the harness, with approved and rated latching devices to ensure the integrity of the system. Note: The Occupational Health and Safety Regulation 2001 prescribes specific requirements that must be taken into account when determining risk controls for both confined spaces and working at heights. 7

8 Lockout Tagout: Removing and controlling energy sources during access People performing tasks, such as maintenance, repair, installation, service and cleaning, are highly vulnerable, and have a higher risk of being killed or maimed through inadvertent operation of machinery and equipment they are working in, on or around. Accidental start-up, or movement of a machine mechanism, can occur: If control levers or buttons are bumped or knocked If a short circuit of the control system occurs When hydraulic or air pressure is released When undoing retaining bolts. It is essential that people who work in, on or around machinery and equipment are not exposed to hazards due to accidental start-up or movement of the machine mechanism. (AS Safety of Machinery). The following is an overview of the lockout tagout process: Shutdown the machinery and equipment Identify all energy sources and other hazards Identify all isolation points Isolate all energy sources De-energise all stored energies Lockout all isolation points Tag machinery controls, energy sources and other hazards Test by trying to reactivate the plant without exposing the tester or others to risk 8

9 Identifying energy sources All energy sources likely to activate the machinery and equipment and expose people to hazards should be identified prior to work beginning. Such energy sources include: Electricity (mains) Battery or capacitor banks Fuels Heat Steam Fluids or gases under pressure (water, air steam or hydraulic oil) Stored energy Gravity Radiation. Isolation procedures Isolation procedures in each workplace vary in detail because of differences in machinery and equipment, power sources, hazards and processes. However, if adequate interlocking is not possible, or the maintenance, repair, installation, service or cleaning requires the method of guarding or interlocking to be bypassed or removed, an isolation procedure should be implemented. Your employer must: Have a maintenance program to make sure all equipment and machines are in safe working order and that appropriate guards are fitted Have a system in place for locking out and isolating machinery during maintenance, cleaning and repairs 9

10 Train you to operate any item of mechanical equipment before you use it, and make sure you are supervised when you use it. If you are still not sure how to use it ask your supervisor for instruction, and Provide any personal protective equipment needed, and tell you how to wear and use it correctly. Under clause 143 of the OHS Regulation 2001, an employer must keep records in relation to tests, maintenance and inspections of certain types of plant. What you should do When you are operating any equipment, you must follow safe work procedures as instructed by your employer or supervisor. This may include: Wearing clothing that will not catch in moving parts Wearing any personal protective equipment (PPE) provided by your employer Operating the machinery and equipment correctly and safely according to your training Keeping all guards in place Making sure guards removed during adjustment, cleaning, maintenance or repair are replaced by an authorised person before you use the machine Switching off machinery and equipment when not in use, and locking out and isolating machinery before any adjustment, cleaning, maintenance or repair is done Concentrating on the job, as distractions can contribute to injuries; and Keeping the area around the equipment or machinery clean. 10

11 Key Point Your employer or supervisor must make sure you are properly trained to operate or use any machinery and equipment. RESOURCES WorkCover N.S.W Safe Work Australia Machinery And Equipment Safety An Introduction Plant In The Workplace-Making It Safe Moving Plant On Construction Sites: Code Of Practice Recording Plant Maintenance: Factsheet Making A Safe Operating Procedure: Factsheet Machinery & Equipment Manufacturing Industry This material was developed by Unions NSW with the assistance of The Workers Health Centre as part of a project funded under the WorkCover NSW WorkCover Assist Program. Any views expressed are not necessarily those of WorkCover NSW. For more information please contact your union. This Fact Sheet is recommended as a guide only and is not a substitute for professional or legal advice. If you need clarification or further advice please consult your Union for further information 11

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