There is a specific requirement to consider ergonomics/human factors in some UK legislation, listed below. Most of this applies across all industry sectors, but some is specific to the pharmaceutical industry. HSE and other organisations have produced guidance that is intended to help you tackle issues and comply with the relevant legislation. The information produced by HSE is either free for immediate download or available to order at low cost.
These regulations impose duties upon those who place new machinery, partly completed machinery and safety components on the market, or put machinery into service. They also apply to second-hand machinery which is “new to Europe”. They set out the essential requirements which must be met before machinery or safety components may be placed on the market or put into service.
There are basically four three steps to dealing with the requirements:
- The responsible person should ensure that machinery and safety components satisfy the relevant essential health and safety requirements of the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations and that, where appropriate, relevant conformity assessment procedures have been carried out;
- The responsible person must issue a Declaration of Conformity (DoC), or in the case of partly completed machinery a Declaration of Incorporation (DoI), which is issued with the product so that it is available to the user (or final machine assembler). This will contain various details such as the manufacturer's address, the machinery type and serial number, and the harmonised European, or other standards, used in design; and
- When the first two steps have been satisfactorily completed, the responsible person or person supplying, assembling or putting into service the final product should affix the CE marking if they are satisfied it is safe.
- When machinery is placed on the European market it must be accompanied by User Instructions in the language of the end user. In the case of partly completed machinery (PCM) instructions for the assembly of the PCM must be supplied.
The HSE is responsible for enforcing these Regulations in relation to machinery supplied for use at work. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) have the policy responsibility for these Regulations. More detailed information can be sought from the BIS website and the European Commission Guide.
Lifting and handling loads can cause MSDs, such as back pain. The Regulations require employers to:
- avoid hazardous manual handling operations so far as is reasonably practicable;
- assess any hazardous manual handling operations that cannot be avoided - for example by using an assessment checklist (an example is included in the back of the guidance on the Regulations);
- reduce the risk of injury so far as is reasonably practicable.
Other areas covered include the task, the load, the working environment, individual capabilities and employer's duties. Revised Manual Handling guidance was published in March 2004. The revision brings it up to date with improvements in the knowledge of the risks from manual handling and how to avoid them.
Working with computer screens and other display screen equipment can lead to upper limb disorders or back pain, as well as stress or visual fatigue. To comply with the Regulations employers should:
- decide who is covered by the regulations;
- assess workstations and reduce any risks found;
- ensure equipment, furniture, the work environment and software meet minimum requirements;
- plan for breaks or changes of activity;
- provide eye and eyesight tests to display screen users who ask for them;
- provide training and information.
Following minor changes to the Regulations revised guidance was published in February 2003.
In general terms, PUWER requires that equipment provided for use at work is:
- suitable for the intended use;
- safe for use, maintained in a safe condition and, in certain circumstances, inspected to ensure this remains the case;
- used only by people who have received adequate information, instruction and training; and
- accompanied by suitable safety measures, e.g. protective devices, markings, warnings
Full details of the requirements of PUWER are contained in the supporting Approved Code of Practice [ Safe use of work equipment. Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. Approved Code of Practice and Guidance. L22 HSE Books 1998 ISBN 0 7176 1626 6 ].
The Regulations require PPE; for example, safety helmets, gloves, eye protection and high-visibility clothing, to be supplied and used at work wherever there are risks to workers’ health and safety that cannot be adequately controlled in other ways.
The Regulations require PPE to be:
- properly assessed before use to ensure its suitability for the work being done;
- maintained and stored properly;
- provided with adequate instruction on how to use it safely; and
- worn correctly by the user.