The World Day for Safety and Health at Work this year falls on April 28th and is an annual international campaign to promote the prevention of occupational accidents.
Every day, 6,300 people die as a result of occupational accidents per year. Safety in the workplace, especially in the world of heavy machinery, is an important and ever-shifting element. Due to the nature of the work, many operators are exposed to a range of health and safety hazards in which individuals put themselves at risk every time they set foot on site. According to HSE (Health and Safety Executive), there have been on average 61,000 injuries recorded to workers each year. Having an awareness of these issues can help reduce the chances of accidents and this World Health and Safety at Work Day we are covering just some measures to help those prioritise health and safety in the workplace.
Heavy machinery can cause injuries in many ways. Just the sheer weight, size and power of heavy equipment pose many dangers to operators. It is important to eliminate any unnecessary risks and take as many precautions as possible, particularly seeing as safety can never be guaranteed.
- Be sure to communicate any information to operators using the machinery. Ensure they are informed with any necessary information, instruction, training, supervision and safety equipment that may be needed for operation.
Employees should also notify supervisors if they notice an error with equipment, such as if they notice damage or if a piece of machinery is missing guards that it should otherwise have.
Maintain & Inspect Machinery:
Planning is everything and poor planning is one of the major causes of accidents occurring from construction plant.
- Before you start operating any machinery, it is important that it is regularly reviewed. Be sure to carry out inspections of any operating equipment in use. Particularly any features where deterioration has a potential to cause a risk to anyone.
- Ensure every static machine has been installed properly and is stable e.g. fixed down.
- Make sure the machine is properly switched off, isolated or locked-off before taking any action that falls in close vicinity with the machinery e.g. cleaning or making adjustments to the machine.
Machine guards are critical to preventing workers from getting caught or sucked into the moving parts of factory machinery.
- Check that the machine is fitted with all safeguards – e.g. guards, interlocks, two-hand controls, light guards, pressure-sensitive mats etc.
Hint: Use the best material for these guards – plastic may be easy to see through but may easily be damaged. Alongside this. if a e wire mesh or similar material is used, be sure the holes are not large enough to allow access to moving parts.
- If fixed guards are not practical, use other methods, e.g. interlock the guard so that the machine cannot start before the guard is closed and cannot be opened while the machine is still moving.
All employees need the right amount of training from a qualified provider before operating heavy equipment. Be sure that only those with the correct qualifications and training are the ones operating heavy machinery. This should include knowing the correct way to turn on, operate, and turn off the machinery.
Each site is unique and will have different measures dependent on the works and machinery that are used. Workers are not the only employees who are likely to work around heavy equipment. To minimise incidents, ensure all those on site receive full training so that they are aware of the risks associated with their actions. It is also advised that basic first aid training is provided should a situation arise.
Wearing the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) could mean the difference between a minor injury and a long-term injury.
It’s important to ensure you are wearing the appropriate PPE for the work you are carrying out. It is your last line of defence should you encounter a hazard on site. Make sure you are wearing the appropriate machinery protective clothing and such as:
- Safety Glasses
- Hearing Protection e.g. Earmuffs or Earplugs
- Safety Shoes
It is important to ensure that your PPE is in good condition, and if they are becoming worn, that they are replaced as soon as possible.
It’s a cliché, however, In the construction industry and world of heavy machinery, it is better to be safe than sorry!