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Health and Safety with Regards to Buttons and Switches

The dawn of the electrical age not only brought about a wide range of machinery and equipment to both assist and speed up production processes and other business operations, but with it came a multitude of buttons, switches, levers and control panels to operate this new-fangled machinery. With regards to health and safety a number of issues need to be kept in mind by those using the equipment, and those making the controls for this machinery.

One is the presence of one or more emergency stop buttons. In the event of an incident, hitting an emergency stop button can bring the machinery to an abrupt halt which can prevent, or at least limit, the damage to a person's health and welfare. Examples include people getting clothing or hair caught up in moving parts, or machinery where the pressure is building up and threatening to explode if it continued. These emergency stop buttons should be clearly labelled and easily accessible so that they can be activated in the event of an emergency. This may mean they are bigger than other buttons so they can be operated easily, and may be located in positions such as the floor. There may even be more than one so that at least one emergency stop button is close at hand should the need for its use arise.

Another issue is the accidental operation of a switch or button by a person. Although this can never be totally eliminated as humans will always have the potential to inadvertently press the wrong button, particularly if they are trying to work too fast or are under too much pressure, certain measures can be introduced to prevent accidental operation of a button or switch by means such as walking past and catching a switch or button. To prevent this, the switch or button can be indented so that it needs to be deliberately pressed in rather than just caught by someone brushing past it. They can also have covers which need to be opened before the button or switch can be operated. Obviously not all of the buttons or switches on a control panel will need to protected in this way, but the ones which can have serious consequences for people's health and safety if they are operated accidentally by just this one press will be good candidates for this extra protection.

Control panels and buttons can also be perfect breeding grounds for bacteria and the subsequent transference between people if the controls are used by different people. If possible they should be cleaned and disinfected regularly, provided that this does not damage the equipment or cause a danger such as an electrical short circuit from the liquid or fire risk.

Selected Courses

Please see below for a selection of health and safety courses and qualifications which you may be interested in:

NEBOSH National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety

The NEBOSH National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety is the flagship NEBOSH qualification, and is the first UK vocational qualification to be developed specifically for health and safety professionals.

The NEBOSH National Diploma provides the core health and safety knowledge (transferable across industry, commerce and the public sector) which, combined with understanding and appropriate application, underpins the competent performance of an occupational health and safety practitioner.

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NEBOSH National General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety

The NEBOSH General Certificate is one of the most popular and widely-held health and safety qualifications in the UK. It is intended to be taken by managers, supervisors and any other employees who require an understanding of general health and safety issues.

The NEBOSH General Certificate covers the main legal requirements for health and safety in the UK, along with the identification and control of workplace hazards, and the practical application of this knowledge. The general content of the NEBOSH General Certificate syllabus means it is suitable and relevant for those working in virtually any industry, and is often used as a solid foundation for those going on to further study and specialising in a particular area such as construction site health and safety or fire safety.

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IOSH Managing Safely Course

The IOSH Managing Safely course is designed for managers and supervisors of organisations in virtually all industry sectors, in order to give them all they need to know to effectively manage health and safety in the workplace.

Recently updated, the new high impact programme covers key health and safety issues, and includes references to international case studies.

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CITB Site Management SMSTS Course

The Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) is one of the most popular health and safety training courses, and is intended for construction site managers, project managers and senior supervisors, as well as proprietors of smaller companies.

Client-based personnel would also benefit from attending the SMSTS course.

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CITB Health and Safety Awareness Course

This course is for those who have entered, or are about to enter, the construction and civil engineering industry as a member of the workforce to help them understand the potential hazards that they face at work on site. It aims to provide a practical summary of health and safety, welfare and environmental health and safety issues.

The course also allows delegates to identify their individual responsibilities for looking after themselves and others, what the employer's duties are and what should be done if they think anyone's health and safety is being put at risk.

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