HSE SAFETY ALERT: REVISION OF STANDARDS FOR POWERED DOORS, GATES AND BARRIERS

The Health & Safety Executive have issued the following safety alert, aimed at architects/specifiers, designers, manufacturers, suppliers, and installers of powered doors, gates and barriers primarily for vehicular use, and those responsible for servicing and maintaining these products in workplaces, car parks and the common areas of shared premises, including residential:

KEY ISSUES

Publication of two newly revised European Standards on the safety of doors, gates and barriers – BS EN 12453:2017 and BS EN 12604:2017.

These new standards replace four older standards from 2000 and 2001; they represent a significant move forward. However, these standards do not completely address the risks that may be present and additional consideration should be given to the following aspects:

  • Undertaking a risk assessment covering the unique environment and type of user
  • The selection and implementation of appropriate design measures
  • Ensuring appropriate levels of force limitation (below the specified maximum)
  • Where the technology permits, ensuring that the safety function is monitored and checked before each movement; and
  • Ensuring effective measures are in place to detect any means of failure in the means of suspension for vertically moving doors. More detail is given below.

INTRODUCTION

  • British/European standards BS EN 12453:2017 concerning the safety requirements and tests for powered doors, gates and barriers primarily for vehicular use, and BS EN 12604:2017 concerning mechanical requirements and tests for the safety of both powered and non-powered versions of these products, have now been published. They are available for purchase online from BSI.
  • They replace and supersede in full the 2000/01 versions of these standards which dealt with the same products and issues; these two new standards cover what was previously dealt with in four standards (BS EN 12453, BS EN 12445, BS EN 12604 and BS EN 12605).
  • These new standards are a major step forward in helping to define the ‘state of the art’ for all products in scope, especially for the safety related parts of the control system on which these products depend for safety. They maintain the previous requirements for basic strength, stability and testing, including where force limitation is the primary means of delivering safety. The requirement on force limitation is not to exceed the existing force limits (basically 400 N for crushing and 1400 N for impact).
  • HSE’s view, however, is that there are aspects of the standards where they do not as yet fully meet the objectives of the Essential Health and Safety Requirements (EHSRs) of the European Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC. This means that compliance alone with the standards will not be enough to meet the requirements of the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008 (SMR08) for either new products placed on the market, or when first put into service (e.g. in situ manufacture, and powering existing gates).

BACKGROUND

  • Following two child fatalities which involved powered gates in 2010, HSE carried out a detailed examination of the suite of British/European standards then available to support the design and construction of powered doors, gates, barriers etc (see the related previous Safety Bulletins). HSE concluded that collectively the standards failed in a number of areas to adequately support the EHSRs of the Machinery Directive.
  • The Directive, which has been implemented into UK law for well over 20 years by SMR08, applies to all machinery, which includes powered doors, gates and barriers, when newly placed on the market, or when first put into service (eg when made in situ, or existing manual gates are ‘motorised’).
  • The UK launched its Formal Objectionto the standards in December 2010, as permitted by Article 10 of the Machinery Directive.
  • The European Commission considered the objection and agreed with the UK that the key standards did not entirely satisfy the EHSRs of the Machinery Directive. Its decision was confirmed and published by two Decisions which were made publicly available in 2015. Additionally, warnings were placed against the entries for EN 12635 and EN 13241-1 in the list of standards harmonised under the Machinery Directive in the official Journal of the European Union, in effect removing the ‘presumption of conformity’ that they previously gave.
  • Removing this presumption of conformity does not prevent manufacturers and installers of these products complying with the Directive/UK Regulations. Rather it means that manufacturers/installers who choose to use these standards can no longer simply rely on complying with the standards to meet all of the requirements of the Directive/UK Regulations.
  • Regulation 7(1) of SMR08 requires all machinery such as powered doors, gates and barriers to be safe. It is the duty of the person responsible for the design, construction and placing on the market/putting into service of the machinery to ensure this. Others then have the ongoing responsibility to keep the product safe through its lifetime of use, which includes ensuring non-employed persons are not endangered by the equipment (see below for link to FAQs).

ACTION REQUIRED

  • The new standards are not “harmonised”. This means that manufacturers (and installers, who often ‘put into service’ a new machine made in situ), must continue to show through a detailed technical file for each product how it has been designed and constructed to meet the safety objectives of the legislation. This must be undertaken before the CE marking is applied and the product is made available to the end user, together with comprehensive User/Maintenance Instructions, and a Declaration of Conformity, which must be made out in the name of the person responsible for the product’s conformity.
  • While these new revised standards can help define the ‘state of the art’ which must be reached, in all cases a thorough assessment of risk must be undertaken which fully considers the unique environment of use, the presence of and use by any vulnerable person, and all hazards arising from use, and foreseeable misuse, such as riding on the door or gate.
  • Design measures (to avoid risk, eg from hinge areas, collapse/falling over) and protective measures (guarding, fencing, safety edges, presence detection, etc) must be implemented during construction, taking into account the presence of any vulnerable populations such as children and those with reduced mobility or other disabilities, and any foreseeable misuse that may arise (such as playing on or near such equipment, or anyone rushing through gaps). You cannot rely on warnings alone to manage significant risks, although they may have their place in some circumstances.
  • Where force limitation is the primary means of safety, impact and crushing forces should be as low as possible (the standards give maximum levels), and verified by testing post installation.
  • Where the technology permits, the check of the safety function should take place before each movement. This is very important where vulnerable populations are at risk, as even one failure could result in serious or fatal injury from crush/entrapment.
  • Effective measures should be taken to detect any failure in the means of suspension of vertically moving doors, preferably stopping further use (unintended movement beyond 300 mm should be prevented), so that action can be taken before any catastrophic failure.
  • The existing harmonised standard BS EN 12978:2003+A1:2009 on safety devices for power operated doors and gates gives specific requirements to support the safe design of these products (Note: a revision of this standard is expected in 2019).
  • Although these standards are not intended for retrospective application, many existing powered doors, gates and barriers may not be as safe as they should be (some did not meet the previous standards or requirements for safety when originally supplied), so they can be used to support the re-assessment and any necessary upgrades to make existing products safer for continued use.
  • All readers are advised to consider the other available information and the existing Safety Bulletins published by HSE on these products (see below for links).

For more information, the safety alert can be viewed by clicking on the link: http://www.hse.gov.uk/safetybulletins/revision-standards-powered-doors.htm or contact us on 07896 016380 or at fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be happy to help

Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence

HEALTH & SAFETY NEWS UPDATE – 19TH JUNE 2016

We hope you find our news updates useful. If you know of anyone who may benefit from reading them, please encourage them to register at the bottom-left of our news page (http://www.eljay.co.uk/news/) and we’ll email them a link each time an update is published. If in the unlikely event any difficulties are experienced whilst registering we’ll be more than happy to help and can be contacted on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk

Waste management and recycling machinery – worker fatally crushed by refuse collection vehicle – firms fined £815,000

Two companies have been fined a total of £815,000 after a worker and father-to-be was crushed to death in Lancashire by a refuse collection vehicle.

A recycling/waste company and bin wagon repair company both pleaded guilty and were sentenced at Preston Crown Court, after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The court heard that, in May 2014, during a refurbishment task at the repair company’s premises, an operative using the controls within the RCV’s cab closed the tailgate on the worker who was at the rear of the vehicle, fatally crushing him to death.

The RCV was supplied with in-cab controls for raising and lowering the tailgate. The system was designed such that it should not have been possible to completely close the tailgate using the in-cab controls, with a minimum gap of 1m being left between the bottom edges of the body and the tailgate. Examinations revealed a fault with the safety limit switch – it was found to be jammed in the actuated position resulting in it being possible to completely close the tailgate using the in-cab controls.

The HSE investigation found the fatal injury occurred due to a poor system of work at the repair company, derived from a lack of a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks, including failure to prop the tailgate adequately.

In addition, the recycling/waste company failed in its inspection regime, which did not systematically review the functionality of the 1m safety limit switch (a designated safety function) on relevant RCVs. Had the fault with the 1m safety limit switch been identified and rectified by the recycling/waste company, the poor system of work employed by the repair company would have been unable to result in the closure of the tailgate causing the entrapment of the worker.

An HSE inspector said after the hearing: “This tragic incident was entirely preventable.

“It is important for organisations to maintain safety critical devices so they function correctly. Additionally, if a company utilises a system of work which does not rely on the effectiveness of that safety device, but then employs a contractor to work on the machine, there should be an effectively communicated handover so both are aware of any limitations and how the machine could function.

“[The recycling/waste company’s] failure to include the functionality of a manufacturer-stated safety critical device on its RCVs in its maintenance regimes resulted in an inability to relay information to any third party about its presence and condition. Therefore it exposed non-employees to unnecessary risk and ultimately contributed to this appalling loss of life.

“Similarly, [the repair company’s] failure to implement a safe system of work for the maintenance of the RCV meant that any of its employees were exposed to the same risk. The lack of an adequate assessment of the risks of working around RCVs enabled the hazard of the non-functioning switch to materialize in the worst possible manner.

“As a result of the failings on behalf of both duty-holders, … a young man and father-to-be lost his life whilst going about his work.”

Waste management and recycling machinery

Introduction

A wide variety of work equipment and machinery is used across the waste and recycling industry (eg conveyors, lifting equipment, waste baling and compacting machines). Every year, a significant proportion of accidents (many serious and sometimes fatal) occur as a result of poorly guarded work equipment or improper use (eg unsafe interventions such as clearing blockages, maintenance or repair activities being undertaken when machinery is running). To prevent and reduce the risk of serious or fatal injury adequate arrangements and systems of work are required.

Machinery related legislation

Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 [PUWER]:

These Regulations require that the equipment provided for use at work is: suitable for the intended use; safe for use; maintained in a safe condition and, in certain circumstances inspected to ensure this remains the case; used only by people who have received adequate information, instruction and training; and accompanied by suitable safety measures, eg protective devices, markings, warnings.

Providing and using work equipment safely: A brief guide: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg291.htm

Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 [LOLER]:

These Regulations require that lifting equipment provided for use at work is: strong and stable enough for the particular use; marked to indicate safe loading loads; positioned and installed to minimise any risks; used safely, ie the work is planned, organised and performed by competent people; and subject to ongoing through examination and, where appropriate, inspection by competent people.

Lifting equipment at work: A brief guide: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg290.htm

What can be done to reduce the risks?

Use the right equipment for the job:

Many accidents happen because people have not chosen the right equipment for the work to be done. Controlling the risk often means planning ahead and ensuring that suitable equipment or machinery is available.

  • Buying new machinery – A short guide to the law and some information on what to do for anyone buying new machinery for use at work: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg271.htm
  • Supplying new machinery – Explains the main health and safety requirements of the law, what you need to know about and what you can do in practice to meet the requirements: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg270.pdf
  • Hiring out equipment – those who hire out work equipment are responsible for ensuring that the equipment is safe to use at the point of hire. The hirer should also make reasonable attempts to find out what the equipment will be used for and provide advice on how it should be used. The safe use of the equipment is the responsibility of the person who hires it.

Preventative actions:

  1. Risk assess your work activities and introduce (and maintain) safe systems of work for all the machinery in use. Useful information on safe systems of work for the use of balers and compactors can be found in Guidance for the recovered paper industry (http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg392.htm). The underlying principles of this guidance can be applied to other machinery (eg, conveyors, shredders, trommels etc.) used in the waste and recycling industry.
  2. Ensure all fixed guards are in place (and are replaced after removal) and secured to ensure access to moving parts is not possible when the machine is in operation.
  3. During, cleaning, repair or maintenance activities inadvertent powered movement can be prevented by securely isolating the plant from power sources – usually the electricity supply, but can also involve hydraulic and pneumatic power, and take into account the dissipation of stored energy if applicable. Security (‘lock off’) can be provided by padlocks on electrical isolator switches, for instance, and multi-user padlocks can be provided if more than a single maintenance worker is involved.
  4. Further information on Machinery lock-off procedures has been produced by the Environmental Services Association (ESA): http://www.esauk.org/esa_policies/people_health_and_safety/ESA_Machinery_Lockoff_Guidance_FINAL.pdf
  5. Permits to work can be utilised for more extensive plant, more complex management systems, and where entry into confined spaces may be required.
  6. Ensure operators have received appropriate information and training relating to the safe operation of machinery.

Other issues:

  • Access and work at height: falls can occur both when gaining access to places of work, and from the place of work itself (which may not have been designed for this purpose). Where access to items of plant for maintenance purposes requires working at height suitable risk assessments and systems of work must be in place.
  • Falling of heavy objects: it is not uncommon for heavy items to be moved, temporarily supported or inadvertently disturbed during maintenance activities. Suitable risk assessments and systems of work are in place for maintenance activity where heavy items may be moved, temporarily supported or disturbed.
  • Confined spaces: a number of people are killed or seriously injured in confined spaces each year in the UK. This happens in a wide range of industries, from those involving complex plant to simple storage vessels. Those killed include not only people working in the confined space but those who try to rescue them without proper training and equipment.

A confined space is defined as any space of an enclosed nature where there is a risk of death or serious injury from hazardous substances or dangerous conditions (eg a reduced oxygen atmosphere). Some confined spaces are fairly easy to identify, eg enclosures with limited openings such as storage tanks, reaction vessel, enclosed drains or sewers. Others such as open topped chambers; ductwork, enclosed conveyor systems and unventilated or poorly ventilated rooms may be less obvious but equally dangerous.

A suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks for all work activities must be undertaken for the purpose of deciding what measures are necessary for safety. For work in confined spaces this means identifying the hazards present, assessing the risks and determining what precautions to take.

For more information, visit the HSE web page: http://www.hse.gov.uk/waste/machinery.htm or contact us on 07896 016380 or at fiona@eljay.co.uk and we’ll be happy to help.

Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence

 

 

HEALTH & SAFETY NEWS UPDATE – 8TH OCTOBER 2015

REGISTER BELOW-LEFT TO RECEIVE OUR UPDATES BY EMAIL

IN THIS UPDATE

Introduction

Gate Safety Week: 12-18 October 2015

Planning and organising lifting operations (global firms sentenced after worker killed)

Employers’ Liability Compulsory Insurance (ELCI)

Health and safety implications of pervasive computing (RFID)

Introduction

Next week is Gate Safety Week which, in the words of Powered Gate Group Chairman Neil Sampson, “is all about raising public awareness of the dangers of using a poorly installed or maintained powered gate, in the hope that we can prevent any further deaths or injuries”. The Door & Hardware Federation Powered Gate Group has published a number of documents which provide guidance on gate safety, and reference to these is made on the HSE website where the advice we share with you this week is also provided.

The need to ensure that relevant information is considered when lift plans are produced was highlighted this summer, when two global companies were sentenced after a worker was killed and another seriously injured during construction of an offshore wind farm. Lifting operations can often put people at great risk of injury, as well as incurring great costs when they go wrong. It is therefore important to properly resource, plan and organise lifting operations so they are carried out in a safe manner, and HSE guidance on this topic is provided below.

Not sure whether or not you need Employers’ Liability Compulsory Insurance (ELCI)? Chances are, unless you have no employees, or are a family business and all employees are closely related to you, that you do. So this week we explain why you need it, and – more importantly – how to get it.

And finally, we look at the implications – positive and negative – of a technological concept that is becoming something of a “buzz word” in the world of health and safety. Radio Frequency Identification, or RFID, is being successfully integrated into site safety procedures by warning pedestrians and machinery drivers of each others’ presence. However, while (as in the development of mobile telecommunications) no threat to human health has yet been proven from exposure to RF radiation, there is public concern about the nature and effects of signals from such technologies (NRPB – Mobile Phones and Health 2004).

We hope you find our news updates useful. If you know of anyone who may benefit from reading them, please encourage them to register at the bottom-left of our news page (http://www.eljay.co.uk/news/) and we’ll email them a link each time an update is published. If in the unlikely event any difficulties are experienced whilst registering we’ll be more than happy to help and can be contacted on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk

 

Gate Safety Week: 12-18 October 2015

Next week is Gate Safety Week which, in the words of Powered Gate Group Chairman Neil Sampson, “is all about raising public awareness of the dangers of using a poorly installed or maintained powered gate, in the hope that we can prevent any further deaths or injuries”. The Door & Hardware Federation Powered Gate Group has published a number of documents which provide guidance on gate safety, and reference to these is made on the HSE website where the following advice is also provided:

Powered gates: Ensuring powered doors and gates are safe (click on the link for more information: http://www.hse.gov.uk/work-equipment-machinery/powered-gates/safety.htm)

Powered door and gate safety is not just about the individual components making up the product, but about the way they are combined together to fit a particular set of circumstances, and what is done over time to maintain safety.

At all times a powered gate must respond in a safe way when any person interacts with it. Its design must take into account that foreseeable interactions may go well beyond normal use (eg children playing around or with / on the powered gate), as well as normal wear and tear, and adverse environmental influences, particular wind and rain / snow and other debris that can impair function.

Delivering safety by design and construction

Much is dependent on the way the various component parts (switches, sensors, safety devices, controllers, and motors) are assembled and connected together to respond to the particular environment of use. Safety is usually delivered by a combination of methods, including:

  • design to eliminate hazards such as: the gate running away down a slope, coming off tracks / falling over, closing gaps at hinges creating crushing points, access to parts of the mechanism or gaps between the moving leaf and other leaves (including secondary leaves on telescopic gates) or fixed parts (supports, walls, etc), gaps in railings in which heads may get stuck, etc
  • the stability and strength of mountings and foundations to adequately resist dynamic forces arising from the weight of the gate as it moves and the effects of wind loadings, so as to minimise adverse effects on actuators and sensing systems
  • fixed guarding to prevent / restrict access to drive gears, etc, fencing off the back of sliding gates to avoid shear hazards between the gate leaf and fixed parts, etc
  • speed control, including deceleration when nearing the end of travel / rotational movement where crushing hazards may arise
  • limitation of forces exerted by moving parts (which may be delivered within the gate motor itself), or in conjunction with external protective mechanisms, including pressure sensitive edges fixed to leading and other edges where crushing/impact hazards exist, to detect and cushion the impact with an obstruction
  • non-contact sensors:
  • many of these are only designed to prevent a gate closing on a vehicle (note, these beams are not usually high integrity safety devices, in fact they may need to avoid over-sensitive tripping from rain / snow and leaves, and can usually be easily circumnavigated, eg by stepping over)
  • safety beams, which as higher integrity ‘safety components’ may be deployed in some cases to avoid contact with the moving gate(s), but because of cost are less common than pressure sensitive edges
  • the way the gate is operated: hold-to-run or automatic (fully automatic or from a starting impulse), and
  • the overall behaviour of the system as delivered by the system controller (eg not just stopping when encountering an obstruction, but also backing off at least a short distance to avoid entrapment – because even being held but not crushed can still be hazardous if there is no rescue),
  • the way the system has been wired and set up during / after installation, including the quality and physical protection of wiring and the connections between all component parts, to resist damage, deterioration and water ingress that may cause the loss of the safety function (eg through short circuits), and
  • how it is subsequently maintained / set as parts wear and respond to environmental conditions (eg temperature and wind forces, particularly on close boarded hinged gates which may experience high wind loadings that the drive motors may not always be able to overcome).

All these factors must be considered as part of the initial design (through suitable risk assessment), specification and construction, and appropriate information provided in the User Instructions, including on routine maintenance and the nature and periodicity of safety checks. Lifetime product safety doesn’t just depend on design and construction, but the way it is used and looked after, often by others not involved in original design and construction.

Maintaining for safety

Component parts can wear and fail, sometimes catastrophically. Like most machinery, powered doors and gates need to be maintained to remain safe. Powered gates forming parts of workplaces or in common parts of residential complexes will be subject to health and safety law. Owners, occupiers, landlords and managing agents will have on-going responsibilities for the safety of all users and all those who may encounter the gate.

Those undertaking work on powered gates are responsible for what they do, and for leaving the machinery in a safe condition, which may include switching off and isolating from power if it needs to be left in an unsafe condition. Substantial modifications may require re-assessment, in some cases re-CE marking by the person undertaking the modifications.

Risk assessment, competence and training

Whilst there may be standard components, even final products, the huge range of locations in which they are installed and variable environmental conditions to which they are exposed mean that most powered gates will be unique products requiring some form of specific risk assessment, both for installation and subsequent use. It is therefore not possible to define standard solutions for safety: each powered gate must be considered individually and holistically, employing suitable risk assessment tools and knowledge / expertise to manage the risks on a case by case basis.

Many organisations offer general training on risk assessment, and within the UK powered gate industry both Gate Safe and the Door and Hardware Federation can provide specific powered gate awareness / competence training.

Those working with powered gates need various competencies depending on their role. Often different members of a team will bring different skills to the job, eg electricians for wiring up and checking the basic safety of the electrical components. In some cases to evaluate component performance specific equipment or instruments may be required. For example, where force limitation is the primary means of safety some form of objective force testing may be required to ensure the final product as delivered is within safe limits, and to subsequently check the product remains safe. This may require additional specific competencies, and suitable record keeping.

Use of standards for design, assessment and testing

There are a number of current standards which are relevant to powered gates, including:

  • BS EN 13241-1 the Product Standard for powered gates (and relevant to the CPR)
  • BS EN 12604 & BS EN 12605 on mechanical requirements and tests
  • BS EN 12453 & BS EN 12445 on requirements and test for powered gates
  • BS EN 12635 on installation and use
  • BS EN 12978 on safety devices for power operated doors and gates
  • BS EN 60335-2-103 on drives for household and similar gates
  • BS EN 60335-2-95 on drives for residential vertically moving garage doors

but at present adherence to these standards alone in many cases will not ensure that all of the mandatory requirements for safety (the EHSRs of the Machinery Directive) will be met.

In particular hazards may remain with regard to:

  • Hinges, because of the way forces measured as specified by the above standards are ‘amplified’ closer to the pivot point, especially where crushing / trapping hazards have not been removed by design / construction (which may be less easy to avoid when converting existing gates to powered operation). A child fatality incident in 2006 was in part attributed to the design of the hinge area of a hinged gate.
  • Shear gaps, especially on sliding gates between moving leaves and fixed parts (or in some cases where leaves pass each other, eg telescopic sliding gates.
  • Force limitation, because published research (Mewes & Mauser 2003)1 suggests that the maximum impact forces permitted by the standards may not always be appropriate for the most vulnerable members of society (children, etc) who may reasonable encounter powered gates.
  • Control systems, because the key standard (BS EN 12453) does not define minimum requirements for safety integrity and reliability in all cases.

The use of any of the above standards by manufacturers for product safety is not mandatory (although products in scope of EN 13241-1 may have to be issued with a Declaration of Performance under the Construction Products Regulation). And the use of the main safety requirements standard EN 12453 does not currently give a ‘presumption of conformity’ with the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC.

Therefore manufacturers will have to show in detail in the technical file for each powered gate how they have designed and constructed the gate to meet the EHSRs and be safe for the gate’s foreseeable lifetime, taking account of foreseeable misuse, as well as intended use.

If you require any clarification at all, or further information, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be happy to help.

 

Planning and organising lifting operations (global firms sentenced after worker killed)

The need to ensure that relevant information is considered when lift plans are produced (to ensure that all of the relevant risks are considered) was highlighted this summer, when two global companies were sentenced after a worker was killed and another seriously injured during construction of an offshore wind farm.

The incident happened in May 2010, when a team of engineers were loading wind turbine blades onto a sea barge for delivery to a wind farm off the Suffolk coast. During loading of the components, a 2.11 tonne part of the blade transport arrangement fell off, crushing and fatally injuring one worker and seriously injuring another.

The investigation carried out by HSE found serious safety failings in the two firms’ management systems for the loading operation, which allowed vital parts of equipment to go unchecked before being lifted.

Following a four-week trial in July, prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the two companies were ordered to pay fines and costs totalling in excess of £1 million between them.

Speaking after the hearing, an HSE Inspector said: “This incident could easily have been avoided had suitable systems and procedures been in place to ensure that all loads were properly connected whilst being lifted. Had the right questions been asked when the lift was being planned and had the bolt and two brackets holding the blade and frame together been checked before they were lifted, the death and serious injury of two workers could have been prevented.”

Planning and organising lifting operations

Lifting operations can often put people at great risk of injury, as well as incurring great costs when they go wrong. It is therefore important to properly resource, plan and organise lifting operations so they are carried out in a safe manner. Each of these elements requires a person or people with sufficient competence to be involved at each step. These people should have sufficient theoretical and practical knowledge of the work and equipment in question, as well as the requirements of the law, to be able to do this properly. For complex and high-risk operations, the planning and organisation should be extensive and meticulous.

Planning

The planning of individual routine lifting operations may be the responsibility of those who carry them out (eg a slinger or crane operator). But for much more complex lifting operations (eg a tandem lift using multiple cranes), a written plan should be developed by a person with significant and specific competencies – adequate training, knowledge, skills and expertise – suitable for the level of the task.

For straightforward, common lifting operations, a single initial generic plan may be all that is required (eg fork-lift trucks in a factory), which could be part of the normal risk assessment for the activity. However, from time to time it may be necessary to review the plan to make sure that nothing has changed and the plan remains valid. Routine lifting operations which are a little more complex may, depending on the circumstances, need to be planned each time the lifting operation is carried out.

The plan for any lifting operation must address the foreseeable risks involved in the work and identify the appropriate resources (including people) necessary for safe completion of the job. Factors to include may be any or all of the following:

  • working under suspended loads
  • visibility
  • attaching / detaching and securing loads
  • environment
  • location
  • overturning
  • proximity hazards
  • derating
  • lifting people
  • overload
  • pre-use checking
  • continuing integrity of the equipment

The plan should set out clearly the actions involved at each step of the operation and identify the responsibilities of those involved. The degree of planning and complexity of the plan will vary and should be proportionate to the foreseeable risks involved in the work.

Strength and stability

Lifting equipment must be of adequate strength for the proposed use. The assessment of this should recognise that there may be a combination of forces to which the lifting equipment, including the accessories, will be subjected. The lifting equipment used should provide an appropriate ‘factor of safety’ against all foreseeable types of failure. Where people are lifted, the factor of safety is often higher. Any lifting equipment selected should not be unduly susceptible to any of the foreseeable failure modes likely to arise in service, for example fracture, wear or fatigue.

Positioning and installation

The position of mobile lifting equipment or the location of fixed installations can have a dramatic effect on the risks involved in a lifting operation. It is vital to take all practical steps to avoid people being struck by loads or the equipment itself during use. The equipment should also be positioned to minimise the need to lift over people. Measures should be taken to reduce the risk of load drift (eg spinning, swinging, etc); and of the load falling freely or being released unintentionally. Many different methods have been developed to prevent falling loads, including the use of multiple ropes or chains, hydraulic check valves and nets for palletised loads.

Measures must be taken to ensure that people cannot fall down a shaft or hoistway. At access points to these areas, effective means to prevent access should be in place, such as gates, barriers or doors. Where access is required to enter the area, when a platform or car is present (eg a lift), the doors or gates should be interlocked to allow the gates to open only when the car is present.

When positioning lifting equipment, care must be exercised to avoid hazards arising from proximity, for example: coming into contact with overhead power lines, buildings or structures; coming too close to trenches, excavations or other operations; and coming into contact with buried underground services, such as drains and sewers.

Working under suspended loads

Where it can be avoided, loads should not be suspended over occupied areas. Where it cannot be avoided, the risks to people must be minimised by safe systems of work and appropriate precautions. Where loads are suspended for significant periods, the area below them should be classed as a danger zone, where access is restricted.

Supervision of lifting operations

Supervision should be proportionate to the risk, taking account of the competencies and experience of those undertaking the lift. Many everyday lifting operations do not require direct supervision (eg experienced fork-lift operators undertaking routine lifts), although there may be circumstances where supervisory assistance may be required to manage risk (eg lifting an unusual load, crossing a public road etc). From time to time, employers may need to monitor the competence of workers undertaking lifting operations to ensure they continue to be carried out safely.

Guidance on planning, organising and undertaking lifting operations

More detailed advice on the planning, organising and undertaking of lifting operations is provided in the LOLER Approved Code of Practice and guidance (http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/l113.htm). Particular guidance is given on:

  • competence of people planning lifting (regulation 8; ACOP para 210 onwards)
  • suitability, including strength and stability, of lifting equipment (regulation 4; ACOP para 98 onwards)
  • positioning of lifting equipment and visibility (regulation 6; ACOP paras 161 and 237 onwards)
  • working under suspended loads (regulation 8; ACOP para 230 onwards)
  • attaching / detaching and securing loads (regulation 8; ACOP para 244 onwards)
  • location, including access (ACOP paras 256 and 62 onwards)
  • environment of use, including operator protection, the effects of wind and mobility (regulation 8; ACOP paras 83, 253, 89 and 112 onwards)
  • overturning (regulation 8; ACOP para 258 onwards)
  • proximity to other hazards, such as overhead power lines and buried services (regulation 8; ACOP para 265 onwards)
  • derating (regulation 8; ACOP paras 111 and 274 onwards)
  • the lifting of people (regulation 5; ACOP para 127 onwards)
  • preventing overload (regulation 4; ACOP para 122 onwards)
  • pre-use checks (regulation 8; ACOP para 285 onwards)
  • the continued integrity of lifting equipment (regulation 8; ACOP para 289 onwards)

For more information, visit the HSE web page http://www.hse.gov.uk/work-equipment-machinery/planning-organising-lifting-operations.htm (click on the link), or contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be more than happy to help.

 

Employers’ Liability Compulsory Insurance (ELCI)

A Woolwich restaurant owner has recently been fined £1,500 plus £1,779 costs for failing to provide Employers’ Liability Compulsory Insurance (ELCI). Speaking after the hearing at Maidstone Magistrates’ Court, an HSE Inspector said: “Every employer needs to ensure that they have Employers’ Liability Compulsory Insurance in place, where such breaches, as in this case, are identified they will be pursued by the HSE.”

Get insurance for your business

If your business has employees you will probably need employers’ liability insurance.

If an employee is injured or becomes ill as a result of the work they do for you, they can claim compensation from you.

Meeting your health and safety duties is easier than you think. As long as you have taken reasonable steps to prevent accidents or harm to your employees (and the injury or illness was caused after 1 October 2013), you shouldn’t have to pay compensation. However, if a court finds you are liable, employers’ liability insurance will help you to pay any compensation for your employees’ injuries or illness.

Only a few businesses are not required to have employers’ liability insurance. If you have no employees, or are a family business and all employees are closely related to you, you may not need it. For further details see HSE leaflet Employers’ Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969: A brief guide for employers (free to download by clicking on the link: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/hse40.htm).

How do you get employers’ liability insurance?

You can buy employers’ liability insurance through insurers or intermediaries like brokers or trade associations. You may find that it often comes as part of an insurance package designed to cover a range of business needs.

Your policy must be with an authorised insurer and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has a list of these. You can check their register on the FCA website (http://www.fca.org.uk/).

If you require any clarification at all, or further information, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be more than happy to help.

 

Health and safety implications of pervasive computing (RFID)

This describes the concept of embedding or integrating computers into the environment with a view to enabling people to interact with them in a more “natural” way. Also referred to amongst other descriptions as “ubiquitous computing” or “ambient intelligence”, current examples include the use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags and GPS systems in vehicles. Wireless networking technology (WiFi) is a key enabler for many of the applications and there is a growing trend towards greater connectivity through the use of broadband. For example in Philadelphia, “officials view broadband as an essential social service” and plan to introduce web access for all their citizens via a city-wide wireless network by the end of 2006.

Extensions of pervasive computing, which are being investigated actively at the moment include devices which sense changes in their environment and adapt and act on these changes, through to work on human-computer interactions and artificial intelligence.

In the short term, rapid expansion is expected in the use of RFID technology, where a vast range of applications are envisaged, offering benefits such as increased productivity and improved resource utilisation, together with reduced cycle times and re-work. All elements of the supply chain from raw material input through to delivery of product to the customer are potentially amenable to some form of RFID control and monitoring. In addition to logistics and product tracking applications, examples of the implementation of RFID technologies are foreseen in areas as diverse as personal identification, anti-counterfeiting, payment systems, maintenance management and healthcare.

Implications:

  • Increased exposure of the workforce (and customers in retail environments) to RF radiation is likely to result from the extended use of WiFi and the more powerful/ longer range WiMax technologies. While, as in the development of mobile telecommunications, no threat to human health has yet been proven from such exposure, there is public concern about the nature and effects of signals from such technologies (NRPB – Mobile Phones and Health 2004).
  • As with other computer-based systems, there is the potential for malicious or accidental corruption of the data stored on RFID tags, which could pose a threat, particularly where safety-critical applications such as e.g. maintenance monitoring are involved.
  • It is possible that intensive tracking of personnel activity in the workplace may result in stressors that may in turn contribute to increased incidences of stress.

Click on the link to read the RFID Technology short form report: http://www.hse.gov.uk/horizons/assets/documents/rfidsfreport.pdf

Our comment

There are positive implications too, in the form of “wearable technology” which is being successfully integrated into site safety procedures by warning pedestrians and machinery drivers of each others’ presence. A small RFID transponder is worn on pedestrians’ hard hats or sleeves, and a small unit fitted to vehicles. Both pedestrian and driver receive a warning if they become close enough to each other to be at risk of accidental collision. Warnings are automatically logged as incidents and the information is used by managers to monitor safety training requirements.

Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence