Statutory Requirements And Introduction
Risk assessments, here in Ireland, like most other European Member States, are a statutory requirement.
Under Regulation 10 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations of 1993 [SO 44 of 1993], it is the duty of the employer, in preparing their safety statement, to be in possession of an assessment in writing of the risks to safety and health of the work place.
These risks are to include any, which put groups of employees at unusual risk and to implement controls that will protect the employees against such risks. These controls are to include any protective equipment to be used.
Under the Machinery Directive 98/37/EC manufacturers of equipment or their authorised representative in the European Union, must, under Article 8(2) (A), (b) and (c) draw up a Technical Construction File, provided for in Annex V.
A specific component of that Technical Construction File is a description of methods adopted to eliminate hazards presented by the machinery, i.e. a written risk assessment.
At the time of going to press, there were no statutory duties on the manufacturer of machinery to supply the end user with such risk assessment, the only requirements were under Annex I, Section 1.7.4 for machinery, to be accompanied by instructions for use of the machinery throughout its life cycle.
The life cycle of work equipment include: –
* Putting into Service
It is worth noting that ALL machinery, on being out into service, must be accompanied by a translation of the instructions in the language of the country in which, the machinery is to be used AND by the instructions in the original language.
Other directives placed further duties on employers in relation to the safe use of work equipment and these have been implemented into National Legislation which, provides for the employers to ensure that: –
- Employees are made aware of safety and health risks relevant to them, even if they do not use the equipment and when the safety of equipment depends on the installation conditions, that
- An initial inspection is carried out after installation and before it is first put into service and
- That an inspection is carried out after assembly at a new site or in a new location
The results of these inspections are to be recorded and kept available for inspection by inspectors of the Health and Safety Authority for five years.
This then is a further example of another statutory requirement for a risk assessment of the work equipment.
A final requirement for risk assessments from Council Directive 2001/45/EC has been implemented into National Legislation under the Fifth Schedule, Para 1 (3)(d) of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) (Amendment) Regulations, 2001 [SI 188 of 2001].
“Control shall be safe and shall be chosen marking appropriate allowances for failures, faults and constraints to be expected in the planned circumstances of use”
The only method choosing control system is assessing the dangers that exist from its failure and this is a risk assessment as described in EN 954-1: 1996.
There is not another topic or area within machinery or work equipment legislation that has been replicated statutorily several times than that of risk assessment and it is for that reason will continue through all of its chapters to bring the message home to manufacturers and users of machinery, the necessity to carry out comprehensive and, as far as possible, objective risk assessments.
Objectivity is the ideal application in risk assessments, however, humans vary and therefore subjectivity creeps into the equation when attempting to establish a level of risk. In trials using twelve people of different vocations using the ‘What If’ and ‘Hazard Risk Number’ (HRN)’ approached the group achieved is nine of twelve applications, the same result.
Whilst other safety practitioners may prefer different risk assessment approaches, the author feels that a 75% agreement between groups is an acceptable common train of thought and most certainly a device for a harmonised approach to risk assessment.
On many occasions the author has been asked ‘where do you draw the line?’ and the answer will always be the same, i.e. the risk assessment must look logically at what is foreseeable and what is not, for example, it is foreseeable that a grinding or cutting operation on a non-metallic material may cause dust but the probability of a hardwired emergency stop system failing is small.
Risk assessment is about applying common sense to a system of work rather than trying to second-guess the future. As human beings, we may miss some factors that could arise from operating machinery and the risk assessor should not be overly concerned that this omission may result in an injury to the operator for the probability is, that by carrying out a risk assessment you have done all that is reasonably possible to implement controls that will either reduce the likelihood of the hazard or more preferably eliminate it altogether.
JGMA can carry out various types of risk assessment that will satisfy all legislative requirements.