Dangerous parts of machinery must be protected either by fixed guards, other forms of guard, protection devices or protection appliances, always supported by the provision of instruction, training and information to the operators and others who could be at risk.

Machinery used in connection with work must be safe and not present a foreseeable risk of injury. Where there are operating parts that present a source of danger to operators and workers they should be protected. Regulations require designers and suppliers of machinery to take account of these issues during the manufacture and installation of each machine. New machines should be supplied with a CE Certificate of Conformity indicating that the basic safety requirements have been met.

Despite this duty on machine suppliers every employer using machinery needs

  • to be sure that the right safeguarding is provided with the machine
  • to ensure that this is kept in position and is working effectively; and
  • make sure that safe systems of work are followed for setting and maintenance.

For most types of equipment there are British or International Standards against which employers can assess the safeguarding on their machinery. These are often supported by specific guidance from enforcing authorities and trade organisations.

Young people are particularly vulnerable to these risks and special consideration needs to be given to the health and safety of young workers. They will need additional training and close supervision. Where the risk at a particular machine is considered too high, young people should not be allowed to operate it.

The general legislation requires employers to undertake an assessment of the risks from the operation of their business and take appropriate action to remove or control the risks. Some machinery hazards are not always obvious. It is extremely important to observe the operator’s interface with the machine and the way the work is done in practice; this being the most effective way of identifying areas of risk.

Employers are required to provide plant and machinery that is fit for use and maintained so that it presents no risk, so far as is reasonably practicable, to the health and safety of employees. They also have to train, instruct and supervise their workforce and take whatever other measures are necessary to protect their health, safety and welfare at work.