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- The NEBOSH General Certificate and Machinery Hazards
The NEBOSH General Certificate and Machinery Hazards
A unit of the NEBOSH General Certificate syllabus covers the safe usage of equipment at work. The definition of workplace equipment is extremely broad and covers pretty much every piece of equipment, machinery or tool that is used by a person to do a task in their place of work. Not only does it apply to the usage, but also to other aspects relating to it including repairing, maintaining, transporting and cleaning, as each of these actions can result in a serious injury if the proper health and safety procedures and control measures are not followed.
The NEBOSH General Certificate, rather than providing detailed instructions for every piece of equipment (which would be impractical and probably take years!), will look at these various aspects (maintenance, cleaning etc) and other elements such as the working environment and relevant legislation like the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER). It is important for managers and supervisors to be aware of legislation and regulations such as this in order to ensure that the workplace fully complies with such mandatory requirements, otherwise they could be fined or face other punishments if they are found to be in breach of such conditions.
Not Instruction on Individual Pieces of Equipment Though!
Although instruction on individual pieces of equipment is beyond the scope of the NEBOSH General Certificate, it does inform managers of the need to ensure that those who are operating or performing maintenance on tools and machinery have received suitable training and instruction before they attempt the action, otherwise there will be a potential danger to their own health and safety as well as that of those who later use the equipment after them.
The NEBOSH General Certificate Looks at Many Risks Associated with Machinery
Instead the syllabus of NEBOSH General Certificate courses will discuss common risks and dangers to the health of individuals who are either operating or stood/moving in the nearby vicinity. Some of the most likely methods in which a person may come to harm from work equipment (or even using such tools and equipment in their personal time) will take the form of:
- Entanglement with moving parts and mechanisms, such as hair or clothing getting caught. Not only can it be painful if it is hair, but clothing such as ties which get caught can result in choking to death. Entanglement can also result in drawing-in which is described in the bullet point underneath.
- Drawing-in usually refers to clothing or body parts such as fingers being drawn-in to machinery parts which are rotating and as such pull a person closer to and unfortunately into the mechanisms of the machinery. These are likely to be sharp and/or strong enough to easily crush limbs which makes this risk extremely serious and one where suitable health and safety training needs to be provided in order to reduce the likelihood of such an incident occurring.
- Impact injuries where a person's body is struck by a moving object such as ejected waste matter from the machining process (e.g. wood or plastic which has been punched out to create a hole in a piece of material), or from machinery itself which moves such as robotic equipment. Although sometimes fitted with sensors and other safety controls to detect the presence of objects in their path, it is often necessary for the person themselves to stay out of the way of moving robots and other pieces of machinery!
- Cuts and lacerations are amongst the most prevalent of dangers to a person's health and wellbeing when using machinery. Even tools and equipment which are not specifically intended to be used to cut material will often have sharp protrusions which can cause both minor and serious injuries to a person.
- Hazardous substances, particularly dust and fumes, will be produced as a by-product of the use of machines and tools as they cut, sand, demolish etc. Suitable precautions need to be taken according to the substances created and/or encountered, which may be particularly hazardous to health such as asbestos dust. Comprehensive training in working safely with regards to likely dangers is therefore essential.
- Vibration Injuries. Many machines, especially high-powered ones and those designed specifically to perform an action such as drilling or compacting material, will cause vibrations from the tool to the hand and body of the operator. This can cause health issues for a person, particularly over the long-term.
- Noise. Many machines are noisy which can easily cause permanent damage to the hearing abilities of the operator and everyone else nearby. Depending upon the noise levels involved, this hearing damage can occur even over a short period of time, meaning that suitable precautions must be taken at all times.
Related Article: Correct Clothing Contributes Towards Health and Safety
Many accidents and incidents in a workplace are caused by a person wearing incorrect clothing or accessories such as jewellery.
Loose clothing can become entangled in the moving parts of a machine or be caught and drawn in by equipment such as a paper shredder. This can cause severe injuries to a person if they are unable to free themselves from the clothing, get it out of the machinery or hit the emergency stop button before it is too late. To prevent this situation, loose clothing should not be worn in the workplace where machinery of this type is used, or well-fitting overalls can be worn over the top which will keep loose clothing away from the machines. Long hair should also be kept up by use of a hair net or other appropriate headgear, and jewellery which could pose a risk such as necklaces should be removed prior to beginning a shift.
Clothing can also play a vital part in health and safety by providing protection for the wearer. One example of this include boots which can help to prevent conditions such as sharps injuries, and are particularly important in industries such as the construction industry, where steel toe capped work boots can also help prevent injuries such as broken toes from items falling on the foot. Clothing such as fireproof overalls can assist in preventing a serious injury from burns caused by clothing catching fire, and there are also special overalls which resist heat and are used in industries such as metal foundries and glass making.