Despite recent improvements in Health and Safety standards, construction is still one of the most dangerous industries nd workplaces in the United Kingdom. Everyone who works in the construction industry should play a part in reducing the chance of accidents in the workplace by following relevant Health and Safety advice when they are using dangerous equipment.
Why is moving construction equipment dangerous?
Moving construction equipment can be dangerous for users for a number of reasons. If proper care and attention is not paid whilst the equipment is in use, body parts or loose clothing items can get caught in the device. Some equipment or components move with such speed that it can be impossible to react quickly enough to remove trapped items from the moving parts. Cuts, lacerations and abrasions are also all common injuries from dangerous construction equipment.
Large plant machinery can weigh hundreds of tonnes and it is possible for people to be crushed between or underneath dangerous equipment at the construction site. When construction equipment is in regular use, it can also become very hot. Unsuspecting users may end up receiving severe burns from heated components. Poorly maintained equipment or equipment which is misused by the handler can also put the handler and other workers at risk from electric shocks.
Choosing the right piece of equipment
Choosing the right piece of equipment is an important part of the Health and Safety process. Never attempt to use a piece of machinery in your workplace for a task which is not recommended by the manufacturers. Misuse of machinery increases the chances of an accident occurring.
Never exceed the manufacturer’s tolerances when performing a task with a dangerous piece of equipment. For example, do not try to lift more than the recommended weight when using a crane.
Basic safety checks before using dangerous equipment
In order to manage the risks from dangerous equipment, it is important to carry out some basic safety checks before the equipment is in use.
- Check over the equipment to make sure that all of the pieces are free from defects and in the correct usage position.
- Do not use the machinery if there are any signs of deterioration.
- Ensure that all safeguards are in place before turning the machine on.
- Check that the machinery has any required CE marks and is supplied with a Declaration of Conformity.
- If the equipment is a static device, make sure that it is firmly anchored down so that it will not be at risk of toppling when it is in use.
- As well as checking the equipment , you should also survey the working area for any hazards, obstructions or people who could be harmed. The working area should be clean, tidy and well lit in order to reduce the accident risk.
Using dangerous construction equipment
An employer should never ask you to work with a piece of dangerous equipment unless you have had sufficient Health and Safety training in the use of that particular machinery. Some dangerous equipment may actually require the user to obtain additional formal qualifications or a license before use. Any supervisor must be given additional training to allow them to take on a supervisory role.
When you are using dangerous equipment, you must make sure that you wear the correct Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). PPE can include; high visibility clothing, hard hat, gloves, goggles, ear protectors and steel-toed boots. When the equipment is in use, the appropriate safety guards should be used to give protection. These guards are designed to reduce the chances of things becoming caught in the mechanism, whilst also reducing the chances of anything hazardous being thrown out of the mechanism. You should not remove manufacturer fitted safeguards, even if you think that their presence is reducing the efficiency of the equipment.
Maintenance of dangerous construction equipment
Maintenance should only ever be carried out by people who have had sufficient training to allow them to operate the equipment. Never carry out maintenance on moving machinery. If the machine jams or the mechanism catches, you should turn the machine off completely before attempting to solve the problem. Any maintenance should be recorded formally in a maintenance log book, so that this can be cross-referenced if there are any issues. The log should include details of any calibration changes that have been made.
It’s also worth noting that if you are injured in the workplace by dangerous machinery and it was because somebody other than yourself was negligent, legal action could be taken. For example if you hadn’t received the appropriate training or the equipment was faulty due to incorrect maintenance you could rightly expect to be compensated both for your injury and financial losses due to the injury which might include loss of future earnings.
Health and Safety Don’ts
You should never use a piece of equipment which has been labelled with a danger sign, unless it has been checked over and passed by person with sufficient expertise and authority. When you are working with or around dangerous equipment, you must never wear loose fitting items, jewellery, dangling chains, clothing with tassels or loose belts, ties or scarves, or loose long hair. These items can become caught in machinery. If others around you are using dangerous construction equipment, you should avoid joking around, because this can distract them.