Understanding Hazards – Plant and Machinery

Plant and machinery can pose a wide range of hazards to workers and bystanders. These hazards can’t be dealt with in isolation because one hazard can lead to another – for example, entanglement with a rotating part can lead to drawing-in and eventually crushing.

Machinery hazards can be sub-divided into mechanical hazards and non-mechanical hazards.

Mechanical hazards include crushing, shearing, cutting or severing, entanglement, drawing-in or trapping, impact, stabbing or puncture, friction or abrasion and high-pressure fluid injection or ejection.
Non-mechanical hazards are dependent on the type of machinery, which may include; electrical, noise, vibration, radiation and ergonomic hazards.

Guarding offers a viable solution for mechanical hazards, if you can’t eliminate or reduce the hazard in any other way. Guards should be chosen in the following order of priority:

Where you don’t need access to the danger zone under normal operation:

•  Fixed guard

•  Interlocking guard

•  Trip device

Where you need access to the danger zone under normal operation:

•  interlocking guard

•  automatic guard

•  trip device

•  adjustable guard

•  self-adjusting guard

•  two-hand control

The condition of plant or machinery should be inspected on a regular basis to ensure that it remains in good condition and all safety features including guards and stop controls are operational.

As a duty holder, you must develop procedures to make sure work equipment is:

•  suitable for its purpose

•  set-up and used to minimise risks

•  well-maintained

•  inspected

•  operated by trained users