Health and Safety Directorate

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Machinery and Plant Safety


What to consider when carrying out a risk assessment of machinery 

  • Do any parts look dangerous, e.g. exposed gear wheels, cutters?
  • Are there guards? If so, are they securely in place?
  • Do the guards prevent access to the dangerous parts?
  • Can the machine operate with the guards easily removed?
  • Do you understand the controls?
  • Can dust or fumes escape from the machine?
  • Is it excessively noisy?
  • Is there excessive vibration?
  • Are any exposed parts likely to be extremely hot or cold?
  • Are any live electrical parts exposed or easy to get at?
  • Can you safely access all necessary parts for maintenance, especially those at height?
  • Are there any special features, e.g. slow running speed, for use when setting?
  • Are the manufacturer’s instructions clear and comprehensive?
  • Does the equipment have the “CE” mark on it?

This list is not exhaustive but illustrative of the key hazards to consider.

When you should contact the Health and Safety Directorate for guidance 

  • If you are importing machinery from outside of the EU/EAA.  Some universities have directly imported machinery from outside the EU/EAA and it has not complied with the required standards.  The process for certifying directly imported equipment can be very complex, time consuming and in some cases expensive.  This is an activity that a European supplier will do when they import such machinery.
  • Machinery without a CE mark or manufacturer’s instructions.  In most cases this will be because the machinery is old.  In most cases following a risk assessment it can continue to be used.  (See checklist above).
  • Purchasing second hand machinery or moving equipment from other universities.  It is important that we obtain all the relevant documentation and user manuals, etc.  We need to ensure no unauthorised changes have been made to the machinery that would make it unsafe, and it has the required safe guards to allow its safe use.
  • Construction of test rigs and our own machinery.  There are some exemptions, from some regulations for such machinery in research facilities.  However the regulations are complex and the exemptions may not apply if non-University staff use the machinery.



Primary legislation

  • There are primarily 2 sets of regulations that apply to machinery and plant safety.
    Safe Use.  Regulations that users (employers) of equipment need to comply with to ensure safe use of work equipment. The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998
  • Safe supply.  There are a number of scenarios where universities become suppliers of machinery, these include selling second hand equipment, importing equipment directly from outside of the EU/EEA, building equipment on site e.g. test rigs. In these cases the Supply of Machinery (Safety) (Amendment) Regulations 2011 may apply.

Steven Carter Faculty (Science and Engineering) Health and Safety Manager

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