17th December 2013
Every industrial or manufacturing company is reliant on a smooth running, problem free assembly line, 24 / 7. Most will operate a regular service schedule to ensure all aspects of the working machinery and conveyor belts are kept maintained, clean and free from foreign objects or a faulty part causing a hold up to production or risk of an accident taking place.
Nevertheless, accidents are frequently reported and injury claims made when machine operatives lose fingers, injure hands or arms because they attempt to deal with any machinery glitches themselves or may carry out routine cleaning operations without adequate protection.
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), between 2011 and 2012, nearly half a million ‘self-reported’ injuries were reported, and accident compensation is routinely paid out for major injuries caused by a conveyor belt accident, such as entrapment (hair, clothing or limbs), deep skin lacerations, severed or crushed limbs.
Around the UK there are still numerous factories where the protection of the workforce under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations, for example, is compromised.
Many personal injuries suffered on a production line are due either to faulty machinery, the lack of personal protective equipment or adequate training. However, many accidents are simply a result of the absence of safe working platforms, guard rails or barriers.
Consequently, not only are production / assembly line workers at risk but also maintenance and cleaning staff. Moving belts should always be halted to deal with a problem when it occurs and all machinery should be stopped whenever a cleaning operation, no matter how brief, is required.
According to the HSE, additional precautions that need to be considered as a preventative measure are:
• Providing an employee with a long-handled cleaning tool so that the job is carried out from the ground or the safety of a catwalk above or to the sides of the machine. • Where working from the ground is not possible, safe working platforms with guard rails to protect the employee from falling should be put into place. • In some circumstances, safety harnesses may be the safest course of action for difficult to access machinery.