The Independent Regulatory Challenge Panel findings
Below are the cases that the panel have considered and their findings.
Case 1 - Guarding controls on a scissor lifting machine
A Local Authority and a multi-site retailer had differing views about the adequacy of the guarding and risk controls on a particular scissor lifting machine. This is not a production machine and is used for a particular operation associated with loading and unloading delivery lorries in purpose built loading bays. It is provided with a trip device and a 'hold to run' control.
The Local Authority carried out a structured risk assessment based on the design and operation of the machine and suggested additional guarding was required. The retailer concluded that taking account of the design, location, and provision of the trip device along with existing risk control measures already in place was sufficient.
The matter could not be resolved locally and the duty holder referred the case to the Independent Regulatory Challenge Panel.
The Provision & Use of Work Equipment regulations 1998 (PUWER) is the most relevant legislation covering this matter. The ACOP guidance supporting these Regulations states that a risk assessment approach should be taken when deciding the necessary safeguards for machinery. The ACOP also states that effective measures should be taken to prevent access to dangerous machinery where the risks of such access can be foreseen.
In this case, the Local Authority proposed an unlikely scenario as a 'foreseeable' instance and did not provide any evidence to demonstrate that the current controls were insufficient to manage the risks associated with the work activity. On the basis of the information provided, the panel was unanimous in its view that duty holder's conclusions for this particular lifting machine and operation was correct.
Case 2 - Managing risks for staff operating pallet trucks
A Local Authority (LA) and a multi-site retailer had differing views about the wearing of safety shoes with toe protection for employees. Employees whose main duties were carried out in the in-store warehouse were trained and authorised to assist in loading/unloading of goods, and were issued with toe protection safety shoes. However, non-warehouse staff working mainly in-store who only occasionally need to move stock by pallet truck were not provided with them. The LA advised mandatory provision of safety shoes with toe protection for all staff required to operate a pallet truck. The LA advised the retailer it would consider enforcement action if this control measure was not implemented. The retailer claimed this request went beyond its established policy, that it had assessed the risk as low, and that its stance was supported by Primary Authority "assured advice". The matter could not be resolved locally and the retailer referred the case to the Independent Regulatory Challenge Panel.
The Panel queried why food preparation staff are required to enter warehouses and use pallet trucks, and as such found that it is appropriate, in the light of the incident, for store management to review its operating procedures to ensure that the risks associated with the use of pallet trucks are adequately addressed.
However, rather than solely focus on provision of personal protective equipment to all staff entering the warehouse (as the LA has suggested), the Panel recommended that a review of the company's policies and procedures should seek to ensure that that those required to move pallet trucks had received appropriate training and instruction; it also recommended that the company consider organisation of the work and any additional control measures necessary to eliminate or reduce the risks to staff to as low as reasonably practicable.