7 Tips for the Safe Use of Machine Tools
17th August 2017

1. Checks

One of the most effective practices in ensuring the safe use of machinery is making sure that all the relevant checks, that have been suggested by the manufacturer, are completed before use.  The manufactures are advised by law to provide all of the correct safeguarding equipment and information for the machines that they produce and also provide warning of any risks that could remain when using the product. The term safeguarding refers to all the safety equipment needed to ensure safe use of a machine, examples of safeguarding items include; guards, interlocks, two-hand controls, light guards, and pressure-sensitive mats. It can also be ideal to produce a systematic approach to safely checking and using machine, this allows checks to become common practice.


2. Avoid Carelessness

Whether it’s a naïve new starter or an experienced engineer that has taken their eye of the ball, it is easy for an employee to become complacent whilst working on a machine. With this in mind, it is vital that machine operators are constantly reminded of the risks involved with using machines and the importance of staying alert during machine use is stressed. It is also essential that operators are in appropriate condition to use machinery correctly. Employers must attempt to restrict fatigue through giving staff break at reasonable times, as well as condemning alcohol and substance abuse during working hours.


3. Trained employees

Making certain that operators have been efficiently and regularly trained on the use of potentially dangerous machines is probably the most effective way of preventing injury. Employers must provide clear instructions and information in addition to the training to comply with health and safety laws. It is also good practice to ask for feedback on any training given to ensure that messages have been communicated and understood effectively. There are some groups of employees who may require more attention than others with regard to training and these are listed below.

·         New recruits;

·         People changing jobs or taking on extra responsibilities;

·         Young employees, who are particularly vulnerable to accidents;

·         Health and safety representatives.


4. Restricted access

Potentially dangerous machinery on work sites should always be in areas that allow restricted access to those that are paid and trained to use them. These areas should be easily identifiable to other members of the work place with either signage, taping or barriers helping to ensure that only authorised personnel are present within them. Failure to do this could potentially lead to work injury and could therefore present harmful implications to an organisation.


5. Avoid tampering with manufacture settings and fixtures unless trained to do so

All machines are designed with the safety of the operator in mind, regardless of how big or small the saw is. Any manufacturer fitted fixtures on the machines, such as safety barriers, should not be removed or altered in any way by anyone except authorised and trained engineers during servicing. Any safety barriers are usually included to prevent sparks or debris coming into contact with the user. If a machine becomes jammed in any way the user must always contact a trained member of staff to resolve the issue as opposed to doing it themselves. Special care must also be taken when altering any manufacturing setting on machines because alterations are made incorrectly, it could cause the machine to collide with itself or thigs around it.


6. Follow maintenance schedules

Finally, it's good practice to have a schedule for machine maintenance to allow engineers to highlight any worn or damaged components that could potentially harm the machine, and in turn the user. By following frequent maintenance schedules, the level of risk is grately reduced.


7. Sufficient first aid

Regardless of vigilant an organisation is, there is always a chance for things to go wrong which therefore means that the possibility of injury is always present. As a result, the importance of an effective first aid process will always be high, especially in potentially dangerous environments. Workplaces should be should be stocked with all relevant first aid equipment including both general first aid response items, as well as, those tailored to the specific work environment. In many organisations, it is necessary to have staff members who are specially trained in first aid.

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