HEALTH & SAFETY: Safe Use of Machinery

The food and beverage manufacturing industry is one of three industries where more harm and injury is occurring than in manufacturing in general, says WorkSafe New Zealand.The other two are the metal and wood industries.

WorkSafe has now updated and practical advice for safe use of machinery - aimed at the manufacturing sector in particular – and has made this information available online and in print.

The new resources are new Best Practice Guidelines (BPG) for the Safe Use of Machinery, an accompanying Safe Use of Machinery toolkit produced specifically for small to medium sized businesses (SMEs), and a set of machine-specific fact sheets.

The updated information - the first to be released in almost two decades – was launched and promoted at the WorkSafe NZ Safe Use of Machinery roadshow, which visited 16 centres between June and August and was attended by 1500 people.

The BPG for the Safe Use of Machinery were developed with industry input. They include a flow chart on how to put in a business case for new machinery including health and safety considerations. There are eight flow charts starting at the concept stage to developing and maintaining safe system of work for specific tasks. The toolkit was especially developed from the BPG for SMEs.

The Manager of WorkSafe NZ’s Construction and Manufacturing programme, Marcus Nalter, says identification of anything in a workplace that could injure or harm someone is the important first step.

“It is the first thing our inspectors pay attention to when they visit a workplace. That’s why we urge all businesses, especially SMEs who tend not to have H&S systems in place to do their own workplace inspection based on the Safe Use of Machinery Checklist in the Toolkit before our inspectors call.”

The updated resources are a response to the high incidence of workplace injuries - and in some cases deaths - due to inadequate machine guarding and machines not being used safely.

Workplaces are advised to pay particular attention to:

  • inadequate guards allowing access to dangerous moving parts
  • guards failing to due to lack of maintenance or guards being removed
  • control performance deteriorating  (e.g. inch travel/crawl speed increasing) due to lack of maintenance
  • unsafe system of work for cleaning, clearing and maintenance of machines.

WorkSafe says the machinery used by operators and employees in manufacturing remained a specific area of concern. Businesses need to ensure that operators and other workers are not using machinery unsafely.

The manufacturing sector, which employs 250,000 workers, is made up of a diverse range of industries. There are number of large employers but SMEs make up 91% of the sector. Many manufacturing workers, meanwhile, suffer ill health and premature death from workplace exposures to noise, respiratory hazards and chemicals.

WorkSafe says vehicles at work continue to be a major cause of fatal and severe injuries. In 2013 there were 80 serious harm incidents and four fatalities involving forkhoists alone.

“We know that more harm and injury is occurring in metal wood and food and beverage manufacturing compared to manufacturing in general. But harm and injury continues to happen far too often across all of these workplaces.”

It says more harm and injury is occurring in metal, wood and food and beverage manufacturing compared to manufacturing in general. All machinery needs to be adequately guarded and safely operated at all times.

To download a copy of the Best Practice Guidelines and the Safe Use of Machinery toolkit, go to the WorkSafe NZ website here. To order copies of the print version, call the WorkSafe NZ Contact Centre on 0800 030 040