Steps should be taken to manage any risks arising from cleaning and maintenance activity. Manufacturer’s instructions should make recommendations on how to safely undertake cleaning and maintenance of their work equipment and, unless there are good reasons otherwise, these should always be followed.
5 Top Tips for Clearing and Maintaining Machines Safely
- There are well-known risks associated with machines that have blockages occurring during their operation. Ensure that you fully incorporate these clearing and maintenance operations into your risk assessments. Use control measures such as guarding to prevent access, but also use warning signs as a visual prompt to stop people entering machines.
- Introduce training – not just for the operation of machines, but also to cover the safe working practices for when things go wrong (such as blockages occurring). Also make this a requirement for all general cleaning (scheduled and non-scheduled) that is needed.
- Any guarding must be regularly checked. Fixed guarding is usually best, but if removable guards are in place, carry out daily checks to verify they are present before work starts. Interlocking guards can be useful in this instance.
- Ensure that machines are isolated (turned off) before attempting to clear blockages, and that they can’t be started with the person (or any body parts) in the machine. Carry out visual checks to make sure workers are not in the vicinity before resuming the operation. Physically ‘locking off’ the machine is also useful, to prevent the machine being started by another person.
- Make sure there is adequate supervision for tasks. Workers may need to have someone there to ask about the correct procedure in the event of a blockage. A good level of supervision can also help prevent people cutting corners to get the job done quicker.
Incredibly, a new worker is as likely to have an accident in their first 6 months with you as during the whole of the rest of their working life. Training for new members of staff must therefore be not only immediate, comprehensive and thorough, but must do everything it can to ensure that the employees have really engaged fully with the need for and detailed demands of accident prevention.
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