What are some examples of organisations/situations that would require a machine risk assessment but may not realise this is necessary?
The most common example, is for organisations that procure new machinery. They often assume the supplier has completed the risk assessment and it will be included with all of the documentation that comes with the machinery. Often a risk assessment is not supplied, and even if it is – it is unlikely consider all of the hazards and risk factors that will be present in your workplace.
When companies procure equipment they should be carrying out their own machine and risk assessment considering its use in your environment with your operators, with your processes, so that it’s a risk assessment that is suited to it’s purpose and use in your workplace.
What are other instances of when a machine risk assessment should take place?
There are multiple trigger points when a machine risk assessment should either be completed or reviewed (if it already exists), including:
- A change in legislation
- significant changes of the task or process
- modifications to the plant
- new guidance material or standards
- any accidents, near misses raised by operators.
How often should a machine risk assessment take place?
Regardless of whether the above mentioned triggers have been met or not, risk assessments should be considered a living document and they should be reviewed on a periodic basis. A risk assessment review period will be determined by the level of residual risk on any machine. So a high risk machine should be reviewed more often than a low risk machine.
Low-risk machinery may require reviews only be done occasionally but historical guidance from the HSE in the UK used to indicate that period should not go beyond every five years.
High-risk machinery on the other hand may be reviewed annually if not more. Each organisation should consider their own risk management policies to determine the appropriate interval for them and their operations.
Who should perform a machine risk assessment and why?
A risk assessment should be a team-based exercise. Those who should be involved should be representative of those that may use the machinery cleaners, maintainers, operators, Health and Safety representatives and professionals. The key thing you need to have in place is adequate competency skills and experience and that can be achieved collectively through all of the team members associated with that machine.
There may be a need to have specialists (machine safety personnel), whether they be external or internal to your organisation supporting that risk assessment to ensure it is a robust, suitable and sufficient process.