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Use and Application

Work equipment must be:

  • suitable for intended use, and used for purposes for which it was designed;
  • maintained in a safe condition for use so that people’s health and safety is not at risk;
  • used only by persons authorised as competent to do so; and
  • inspected in certain circumstances to ensure that it is, and continues to be, safe for use.

Departments must establish arrangements to ensure that risks created by the use of the equipment are eliminated where possible or controlled by a combination of:

  • taking appropriate ‘hardware’ measures, eg providing suitable guards, protection devices, markings and warning devices, system control devices (such as emergency stop buttons); and
  • taking appropriate ‘software’ measures such as following safe systems of work (eg ensuring maintenance is only performed when equipment is shut down etc), and providing adequate information, instruction and training.

General guidance on Using work equipment safely is provided. Specific guidance and posters on the use of the following types of equipment should be provided to all persons using the equipment and close to the location of fixed equipment;

Supervisors of work using abrasive wheels must have attended a training course on Setting and Using Abrasive Wheels.

Operators must have attended a training course on Setting and Using Abrasive Wheels or have been trained by a supervisor who has attended this course.

More specific guidance on other equipment, including power presses, is available via the HSE website or from your Health and Safety Adviser .

Work equipment with moving parts and powered drives, i.e. machinery, can pose significant health and safety risks. There are other hazards that can be present in work or research equipment. The Topic Guidance should be used as a checklist for identifying these hazards and assessing the risks.

In cases where the safety of people from the use of work equipment is dependent on ‘hardware’ or ‘software’ measures, the risks and in particular the areas of danger and the risk control measures, both ‘hardware’ or ‘software’, must be specified in writing and provided to anyone using the equipment such that they understand the risks and how to operate the equipment safely.

Departments must specify arrangements for authorisation of equipment that is to be left unattended or will be run overnight or continuously. This needs to be authorised by relevant person(s) in the Department. A ‘Continuous Running Equipment’ or ‘Overnight Experiment’ Notice must be displayed next to or on the equipment and at the entrance to the area where the work equipment is running. Emergency shutdown procedures and contact details of the person in charge of the equipment should be clearly written on the notice in case a shutdown is necessary.

The Machinery Inspection Checklist and the guidance on evaluating the effectiveness of machinery safeguards should be used by persons with responsibility for machinery to assess the machinery for which they are responsible. These are also used by Health and Safety Advisers when carrying out inspections and audits.