Machinery at work, if defective or if misused, can lead to serious injury or death. Therefore, it is critical that risk assessments are conducted to establish operational standards and procedures, to minimise these risks and to create a safe working environment.
The latest Riddor statistics for Great Britain in 2017-18 reveal that recent accident levels are stubbornly remaining static. Although there has been a reduction from historical levels, this improvement has definitely come to an abrupt halt.
In 2017-18 there were 144 fatalities in the workplace, with the breakdown shown below:
- Fall from heights (35)
- Struck by moving vehicles (26)
- Struck by moving objects (23)
- Trapped in collapsed structures or overturning (16)
- Contact with moving machinery (13)
- Contact with electricity (4)
In addition, there were a further 555,000 non-fatal injuries reported. Therefore, from these figures, it is clear that there should be no grounds for complacency.
Injuries sustained can vary from the extremely serious and debilitating to minor cuts and bruises, such as amputations, spinal, cord damage, impact injuries from crushing, bone fractures, burns and scalds, punch injuries from sharp parts and edges, bone fractures, serious lacerations, entanglement at pinch, nip points, moving belts or conveyors, by clothing, hair, fingers or jewellery, injuries from ejected parts or flying objects.
Employers in the UK have a legal obligation to comply with a wide range of Health and Safety legislation, including The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. These obligations include the need to offer adequate training; satisfactory levels of supervision; relevant safety wear and safety equipment (PPE); the fitting of safety guards; and fully maintained and non-defective machinery.
In the event of an accident, there can be a series of direct and indirect costs from prosecution by the HSE (Health and Safety Executive).
Direct costs can be a combination of the following;
- Loss of workers time due to the accident
- Loss of productivity due to machine downtime.
- Knock on effect of disrupting production further down the line.
- Overtime costs to make up the shortfall in production.
- The recruitment of new workers, or the re-training of current staff.
- Legal costs.
- Management and executive time.
- Increase in insurance premiums.
- Reduction in worker morale leading to loss of productivity.
Indirect costs due to a poor safety record may be difficult in recruiting staff, or the need to pay above the market rate, as well as impacting on the ability to win contracts due to a tarnished reputation.
Installing safety guards and barrier systems to isolate dangerous machinery and keep people at a distance, automatic cut-outs and operating controls to prevent equipment inadvertently being turned on, the issue of eye, ear, head, face, hand, foot or body personal protective equipment, continual training and refresher courses can help prevent accidents occurring.
At Label Source, we do our bit, in the supply of a range of machine hazard safety signs to create awareness of the risks posed when operating industrial machinery and plant. Among the hazards covered are finger trap, entanglement, crush, pinch points, moving blade and belt, entrapment, hot surfaces and hot liquids. Besides these, we supply many labels and signs to bespoke designs.