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HSE Issue New Medical Fitness Guidelines For Operating Plant

17th December 2013
A great many injury compensation claims involving accidents, which were caused by factory equipment, regularly contain incidents where not only is the fitness for purpose of the machinery called into question but also the fitness of the operator too.

This may refer to a lack of sufficient training or in a number of accident claims cases the actual medical health of the employee and their ability to carry out a specific task using or driving specific equipment such as a forklift, plant machinery, HGV vehicle, passenger coach, etc.

Small business operations tend to also rely heavily on a small number of loyal staff being present at work (often for long hours) and under pressure from their employers to carry out all necessary tasks (and more) as normal despite a health condition (asthma) or other physical problems, such as a sprained muscle. Sometimes, employers will repeatedly call staff who are at home recovering from injury or illness to check if they are “ready to come back to work.”

In a worst-case scenario, the employee may try to hide their health problems for fear of losing their job or may be unaware they have developed a condition, for example, affecting the heart.

Having worked with organisations such as the Strategic Forum Plant Safety Group and the Construction Plant-hire Association (CPA), in February 2012, new industry guidelines were issued by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The guidelines are aimed to “strike a balance between ensuring that medical assessments are frequent enough to identify changes, but not so frequent that they discourage employees or become an unnecessary expense.”

Under the new guidance, operators of construction equipment now require an employee’s fitness to be assessed every three years. According to the HSE, “Assessments will also allow customers who are renting plant equipment to demonstrate that the operators of the equipment will be medically fit to have control of the plant.”

Under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER regulation 9), employers must “ensure that all persons who use work equipment have received adequate training for the purposes of health and safety, including training in the methods which may be adopted when using work equipment, and risks which such use may entail and the precautions to be taken.”

Training provided under PUWER (regulation 9) is designed to build upon the general obligation under section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act and the additional requirements on capabilities and training, under regulation 13 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations and its approved codes of practice (ACOP).

Click here to download Medical Fitness For Operating Plant Guidelines at the CPA website.