CMSE - Blog | Safety Training & Consultancy

CMSE - Blog | Safety Training & Consultancy


Ergonomics – is it in your company strategy?

In this article we discuss the importance of considering the full spectrum of ergonomic related issues that may occur in an organisation, along with showing the approach that can be adopted to understand the risks and be compliant with legal requirements.

Ergonomics is a broad discipline, the definition of ergonomics (or human factors) adopted by the International Ergonomics Association (IEA) is “the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of interactions among humans and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data, and methods to design in order to optimize human well-being and overall system performance.”  



While human factors and ergonomics are overlapping, as shown above in the Venn diagram, to differentiate between the types of assessment required, human factors is the term that is usually used when looking at cognitive factors that can influence human performance and safety e.g. behavioural safety, HAZOP, UI/UX design etc. Ergonomics is more associated with the physical factors of the work environment e.g., working postures, physical capabilities/limitations, repetitive motions, thermal environment etc.

An industrial ergonomic assessment while such assessments can focus on an individual worker, these are completed where a more in-depth analysis of a specific tasks, assembly line setup or process operation is required. Where no one size fits all and with the goal of fitting the task to the worker in mind, these assessments allow existing tasks and/or proposed new work environments to be evaluated as to their suitability to accommodate the employees engaged based on best practice standards and how risk reduction principles can be applied. 

These assessments can and should form part of the task specific manual handling assessments in the workplace which are a requirement of the Safety, Health, and Welfare at Work, (General Application) Regulations 2007, Chapter 4 of Part 2. Such assessments can be completed by a CMSE qualified ergonomist however guidance and awareness training can be given to facilitate the workforce or ergonomic champions with suitable tools to screen and prioritise work areas where in-house solutions can be sought or where more external expertise may be required.


Individual office ergonomic assessment – As the name suggests is a more specialised assessment for an individual in an office work environment often for the following reasons, existing medical issues, is experiencing persist discomfort at the workstation or as part of a return-to-work procedure to ensure the individual has the suitable working set-up. This is completed by a qualified ergonomist to advise on best practice for the worker, evaluate the most appropriate actions and solutions based on the type of work required to be completed.            

In addition, a general office ergonomic evaluation can advise and guide on the correct selection of office layout and office equipment to ensure dimensions and specification meet the DSE regulations and best practice for the largest working demographic where practical.

Display screen equipment (DSE) assessment – The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work, (General Application) Regulations 2007, (Chapter 5 of Part 2) outline the requirements that must be adhered to in relation to use of Display Screen Equipment (DSE). It requires a DSE assessment is completed on all employees who use DSE for continuous periods of more than 1 hour per day. These assessments are to be completed by a competent assessor, this could be an experienced health and safety professional or appointed members of staff with the relevant training and experience.

With a new working paradigm, often involving hybrid and varied working tasks, it is important that employees are working in an environment that is assessed as safe,  facilitate comfortable and productive and in order to reduce the risk of acute and chronic musculoskeletal injuries arising. 

Contact [email protected] where we can guide and advise on pragmatic and cost-effective ergonomic solutions and where an ergonomic strategy should fit into your business.  


Best Practice for Interviewing well – virtually!

Although we have moved out of the dependency of virtual interviews experienced over the last few years, that initial first round interview will, in most cases, occur online. Many candidates I have spoken with still find virtual interviews intimidating and slightly awkward, so here are my top tips to put your best foot forward, virtually! 

  1. Make sure to click the MS Teams/Zoom or whatever video link you have been sent to ensure it works and you have downloaded any software you might need.  
  1. Test your camera and Mic to make sure all is in working order. 
  1. Make sure you choose to hold the interview in an area that has good lighting, and your facial expressions are well visible on camera.  
  1. On that note, choose an area in the house that is quiet if you can, and has a good internet connection. Disconnect any other devices using internet to make sure your connection is strong.  
  1. Check in with your family or housemates living with you to make sure they know you are interviewing and avoid any interruptions! 
    These are some simple steps you can take before your initial interview that will help you feel prepared, relaxed and confident as you enter that virtual meeting room! Hope these tips help. 

If you would like to discuss your career options further or discuss our open roles at present, please feel free to contact the team at [email protected] , or call us at 0818 315 415

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Machinery Guarding Openings & Safety Distances

By Alan O’Donovan and Jake Bumpus, Safety Engineering Consultants for CMSE Consultancy

When risk assessing a new or existing machine, it is important to determine whether its guarding has any openings by which someone could potentially be exposed to a hazard.

In line with the hierarchy of controls, openings should be minimised where at all possible to reduce access to hazards, such as dangerous moving parts. However, sometimes this is not feasible, for example due to openings being required for materials to enter or exit the machine.

EN ISO 13857:2019 ‘Safety distances to prevent hazard zones being reached by upper and lower limbs’ is a Type-B harmonised standard which contains proscriptive recommendations relating to openings in machinery guarding.

The standard contains a number of tables (Tables 3 to 7), which show the relationship between the size of an opening (e), and the minimum safety distance to the hazard zone (sr). The different tables are provided for consideration of different ages of persons exposed to the hazard, whether upper or lower limbs are at risk, and whether or not there are additional limitations of movement.

A reproduction of Table 4 is shown below, and is used for scenarios where persons of 14 years of age and above could reach through openings in machinery guarding. All dimensions are in millimetres.


As an example, assume that there there is currently a 50 mm square opening in a machine guard, and a dangerous moving part which poses a crushing hazard is 100 mm away from this opening.

According to Table 4, it is possible for an arm to reach into a 50mm square opening, and the minimum safety distance required is 850 mm. Assuming that the opening cannot be eliminated entirely, to comply with the requirements of the standard, two options would be:

  • Move the guard further away from the dangerous moving part, to achieve the minimum safety distance of 850mm, or
  • Reduce the size of the opening to 12 mm or less, therefore the current distance achieves the minimum safety distance in Table 4 of 80 mm.

If the opening is larger than 120 mm, then whole body access is possible, and additional safety measures are likely to be required.

CMSE Consultancy is a leading provider of Machinery Safety Support to many clients nationally and internationally. Our specialists provide practical advice, training, and machinery solutions to support your particular needs. Our team work to legislative requirements and benchmark against industry best practice.

Read more about our Machinery Safety services Here. CMSE Training, part of Chris Mee Group also delivers IOSH accredited Machinery Safety training.


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Emergency Stop Devices for Machinery

By Jake Bumpus & Alan O’Donovan, Safety Engineering Consultants with CMSE Consultancy

Due to the requirements of the Machinery Directive, many machines are installed with some form of emergency stop. This is commonly in the form of a push button, but they can also be wires, ropes, bars, handles or foot-pedals. The general principles of design of emergency stops (E-stops) are described in the harmonised standard, EN ISO 13850:2015.

According to EN ISO 13850, there are two categories of emergency stops. The category of emergency stop used in a machine should be based upon the risk assessment carried out by the manufacturer during the design phase, in accordance with the principles in EN ISO 12100.

  • Category 0 E-stops operate on the principal of “Stopping by immediate removal of power to the machine’s actuators”
  • Category 1 E-stops work by “Stopping movements and operations with power available to the machine actuators to achieve the stop and then removal of power when the stop is achieved”.

Some of the key requirements of the Emergency Stop function according to ISO 13850 are discussed below.

Functional Requirements

The emergency stop function should be a complementary protective measure only (i.e. the last line of defence for emergency scenarios), and not a substitute for safeguarding measures and other safety functions.

Once activated, an emergency stop device should be designed to remain activated until the actuator has been disengaged. This should only be possible by an intentional action – most commonly with push buttons, this would take the form of a twist to release. It is also important that disengaging the emergency stop does not automatically restart the machine. Restarting the machine should require an additional start command.

Determination of the performance level (PL) or SIL required by the emergency stop safety function should be determined using the methodology of ISO 13849-1 or EN 62061, but the minimum required in all cases is PLr c or SIL 1.

Colour & Labelling

The actuator of an emergency stop device should be red, and the background colour should be yellow.

The most recent revision of the standard also recommends that neither the actuator nor the background should be labelled with text or symbols. Where a symbol is needed for clarification, the symbol from IEC 60417-5638 should be used:


Location & Positioning

The location of any emergency stop devices should be determined by the risk assessment. Commonly, they will be required at each operator control station, and also at locations where intervention to the machinery is needed.

For emergency stop devices that are actuated by hand (e.g. push buttons) they should be placed in a position where they can be easily activated by the palm of the hand, and should be mounted between 0.6 m and 1.7 m above the access level (e.g. floor or platform level).


CMSE Consultancy is a leading provider of Machinery Safety Support to many clients nationally and internationally. Our specialists provide practical advice, training, and machinery solutions to support your particular needs. Our team work to legislative requirements and benchmark against industry best practice.

Read more about our Machinery Safety services on our website. CMSE Training, part of Chris Mee Group also delivers IOSH accredited Machinery Safety training.


ADHD Awareness Month

October is worldwide ADHD Awareness Month. This is when advocacy groups and society at large mark the importance of creating opportunities and spaces for the neurological difference.

ADHD is a chronic condition that creates a range of persistent symptoms such as difficulty sustaining attention, hyperactivity and impulsive behaviour.

ADHD Awareness Month 2022 sees a number of events and launches, including the virtual ADHD European Conference between October 19th and 21st. These three days include informational talks for adults, parents, educators and medical professionals, delivered by world-renowned ADHD specialists and individuals passionate about the condition. The event aims to bring everyone together to learn about ADHD. More information and registration here.

The Let’s Chat – ADHD podcast launches on Friday, October 28, presented by podcaster and Instagrammer Lauren, featuring a host of guests from across Ireland’s ADHD cohort, and run by some of the group’s volunteers.


This ADHD Awareness Month, CMSE Training are delighted to be offering a 25% discount off the CPD-approved ADHD Awareness Online Course using Promo code: 20aDhDa2 .

The course covers the definitions of ADHD, the different types of ADHD and how to recognise some key signs and symptoms. It’ll also talk about how ADHD is diagnosed and treated, and offer some useful information about how to live with ADHD.

Read about, and register for this course here. Free trial also available.

CPD Units: 2

Duration 45 mins