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Maintenance, Health & Safety and Noise Risks


Old and/or poorly maintained machinery and equipment can pose a danger to the health and safety of those nearby in a number of different ways, in particular through worn or missing parts, and the danger from noise on hearing.

Older Machines are Likely to be More of a Health and Safety Hazard

Whilst new machines and pieces of equipment can still break and be dangerous when they are used for the first time if they have not been thoroughly tested and run-in, it is more likely that dangers will come from old machines which have one or more of the following conditions:

  • Parts that have become worn and may cause the machine/equipment to break and cause possible injury
  • Parts that have become loose and may fly off during operation, causing a serious injury to the operator or a person situated nearby
  • Damaged or missing safety features which would ordinarily prevent an accident from occurring. Examples include hand guards for hand-held equipment such as chainsaws, or even emergency stop buttons which have fallen off and are no longer operational
  • Damaged cables for electrically-powered tools. Over time the power cable can become frayed or the protective casing accidentally cut ever so slightly, which can create the possibility of electrocution

Machinery and Equipment Dangers are Covered on Many Health and Safety Courses

The danger to a person's safety and wellbeing that can occur from using tools and equipment is so great that many health and safety courses like the NEBOSH General Certificate contain modules and elements which take an in-depth look at many of the potential risks and hazards that are associated with their usage, maintenance, storage and a lack of appropriate training before commencing operating them.

Indirect Danger Posed by Failing Machinery

As well as posing a potential danger to health and safety directly, machines are also utilised extensively in monitoring and automated safety features. If this equipment fails for some reason then the safety system may not activate when it is needed, which can result in serious injury, illness or death to workers and anyone else who happens to be in the vicinity. If this accident were to occur at a facility such as a nuclear power plant, it can have extremely serious consequences for many people over an extremely large area. Along with the health of human beings, it will also create extensive death and damage to the surrounding environment too for a long period of time.

The Importance of Maintaining and Replacing Equipment for Preventing Accidents

We have seen in the paragraphs above that old or poorly maintained machinery and pieces of equipment can pose serious risks to the health, safety and wellbeing of both workers and members of the public alike. Therefore it is imperative that this equipment is regularly inspected for damage and is sufficiently maintained by a person who is competently trained and has the required knowledge to carry out the maintenance properly. If they are not suitably competent, the act of performing the maintenance can actually create a danger to health and safety! It is also strongly recommended to replace old equipment and machinery which is likely to fail soon with newer equipment.

Not only can this newer equipment reduce the potential for health and safety incidents in the workplace, but it is likely that it will be more efficient than the previous model which has environmental benefits through the consumption of less energy and can also save the company money due to lower electricity bills.

Noise Risks to Hearing

Newer machinery can often take advantage of advances in technology and materials to operate far more quietly than machines built in the past, which can significantly reduce the potential for damage to the hearing of those near the machine. Not only can newer machines be quieter than older ones, but old ones which have worn or loose parts can also produce a great deal of noise and vibration.

Although measures can be taken to reduce the levels of sound which actually reach the ears of people, it is far more preferable - as it is with other health and safety risks and dangers - to remove the problem at source by replacing the machinery with quieter models.

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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