There has been a growing requirement for advanced machinery safety strategies over the last number of years partly due to the increasing use of complex automation systems. It is fair to say however that additional regulatory requirements have played a greater part in changes in work practices around the use, maintenance, and operation of machinery. It is imperative that you, as an employer, realise what your responsibilities are under the current Irish legislation and EU Directives in place and also that you ensure that your employees go home in one piece at the end of their days’ work.
Irish Legislation relating to machinery safety has evolved rapidly over recent years. Under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulation 2007 Chapter 2-Use of Work Equipment, as an employer you are required to ensure “any work equipment provided for use by employees at a place of work complies, as appropriate, with the provisions of any relevant enactment implementing any relevant Directive of the European Communities relating to work equipment with respect to safety and health”.
The Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC requires that a CE mark be affixed to the machinery and the supplier is required to issue a Declaration of Conformance. It is important for employers (the users) to note however that CE marking is self-certification by the manufacturer. In other words the manufactures say it meets the Machinery Directive. Independent machinery studies and accidents have highlighted the problems of reliance on CE Marking only. It is important to note that machinery or assemblies to be incorporated into other machinery may not be CE Certified. In this case a Certificate of Incorporation will be issued by the manufacturer rather than a CE Certificate. The whole machine once assembled will then need to be CE Certified. Keep in mind the company assembling the equipment, the end users or employer themselves may be classified as manufacturers under the Directive.
Your first concern when you are purchasing or building machinery should be to determine exactly who is going to take responsibility for the CE marking. This could be the main contractor, you the end user or an outside organisation. This point should be determined at the start of the contract and not after equipment is installed or running. Unfortunately, it is usually you as the end user that bears the brunt of any prosecution, should things go wrong. It is much easier for health and safety authorities to prosecute end users under Irish legislation than it is to prosecute manufacturers, especially those from outside of the EU. Under Irish legislation you as the end user should check that equipment supplied with CE marking actually meets the requirements. Keep in mind that the EU Machinery Directive is a “new approach’ Directive, which means that it lays down Essential Health and Safety Requirements (EHSRs), with which the manufacturer should endeavour to comply. The normal way they do this is to list the EHSRs with comments explaining how the machinery meets the requirement. The Directives are supported by European Normative Standards Click here to visit the National Standards Authority of Ireland’s standards.
You should do an audit of the equipment and make sure that an attempt has been made to ensure the CE marking is correctly applied. You also need to check that the CE Certificate and the Technical File required by the Machinery Directive actually exists for the machine and that it contains the correct information including the EHSRs and an explanation of how the machine complies with them. In addition to the technical information the file should also contain design and use risk assessments and any other relevant studies carried out to determine the safety of the machinery.
Ultimately you the employer “the User” are responsible for ensuring a safe workplace, safe systems of work and safe plant & equipment. So depending on Machinery CE Certification ONLY is a dangerous strategy. As an employer under the General Application Regulations you need to ensure that you carry-out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment of the HAZARDS posed by the machine. Alternatively you could appoint a Certified Machinery Safety Expert (CMSE) to carry out the assessment.
1. Mechanical Hazards (entanglement, crush injury, impact injury, shearing, severing, stabbing, cuts etc) and
2. Non-mechanical Hazards (electricity, hydraulics, pneumatics, temperature, noise, fire, explosion, vibration, radiation etc.)
The flow-charts below describes the machinery risk assessment process;
• Document risk assessment process and keep under review.
CMSE Consulting is a leading provider of Machinery Safety Support to many clients nationally. Our specialists provide practical advice, machinery risk assessments, competent person, training and machinery solutions to support your particular needs. Our team work to legislative requirements and benchmark against industry best practice. We can assist you in ensuring compliance with the Machinery (General Applications) Regulations. For more information on our machinery safety services click here
CMSE Training now offers an IOSH approved two day course designed to provide you and your employees with the legislative and practical knowledge and skills required for the safe use of equipment and machinery in your workplace. Upon successful completion of the course you will receive your IOSH Certification on Machinery Safety. This will allow you to return to your workplace ready to implement your new machinery safety skills and knowledge. For more information click here
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