Understanding the machinery risk assessment process
10 Feb 2021
The machinery risk assessment process can be complex and once completed may result in significant changes to the workplace environment. TÜV SÜD’s Paul Taylor provides some direction...
Just because a machine carries the CE marking or the UK’s new UKCA mark, it does not necessarily mean that the machinery owner doesn’t need to take any further action.
Risk assessment is therefore a vital step in ensuring compliance. The standard EN ISO 12100 – Safety of Machinery – Risk Assessment, defines risk assessment as: “A series of logical steps to enable, in a systematic way, the analysis and evaluation of the risks associated with machinery.”
It also goes on to state that: “Risk assessment is followed, whenever necessary, by risk reduction. Iteration of this process can be necessary to eliminate hazards as far as practicable and to adequately reduce risks by the implementation of protective measures.”
A hazard analysis/risk assessment must therefore be carried out to examine any potential hazards associated with machinery. This provides information for a risk evaluation, in which a decision is made on the safety of that machinery, so that risks can be reduced where necessary.
EN ISO 12100 outlines the hazard analysis/risk assessment procedure as follows:
Determination of the limits of the machinery
Hazard identification l Risk estimation and risk evaluation
EN ISO 12100 also provides guidance on the safety of machinery and the type of documentation required in verifying a risk assessment. To immediately identify any issues, a thorough and correct risk assessment should be completed before any new machinery goes into operation.
Just because a machine carries the CE marking or the UK’s new UKCA mark, it does not necessarily mean that the machinery owner doesn’t need to take any further action
Problems can then be rectified with the manufacturer, so that they or the machinery owner no longer run the risk of a prosecution under the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations or the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER).
The first step in the risk assessment process is to identify anything that has the potential to cause harm. Secondly, an assessment must be made of the likelihood of a person coming into contact with these hazards and how much damage it would cause.
A risk assessment would normally be carried out for each hazard identified. Control measures can then be applied to mitigate the risk. Once these have been implemented, a reassessment must then be actioned to ensure that they provide an adequate level of safety. The process is repeated until an adequate level of safety is achieved.
Section 6 of PUWER requires that inspections must be repeated ‘at suitable intervals’ if machines are exposed to conditions that may lead to deterioration. This means that risk assessments must therefore be conducted at appropriate intervals as every machine will experience some form of deterioration.
An internal process must therefore be set up, which is overseen by an individual who is capable to ensure that risk assessments are carried out as required. Taking this simple approach ensures that risk assessment is swiftly integrated into the everyday working practices of an organisation, and it is never neglected.
The person who decides what the assessments cover and how they are done, must of course be competent to do this. While the exact definition of a competent person is not currently regulated, the Health & Safety Executive definition is: “Someone who has sufficient training and experience or knowledge and other qualities that allow them to assist you properly. The level of competence required will depend on the complexity of the situation and the particular help you need.”
Paul Taylor is head of industrial products (UK) at TU?V SU?D