A wide variety of work equipment and machinery is used across the waste and recycling industry (eg conveyors, lifting equipment, waste baling and compacting machines). Every year, a significant proportion of accidents (many serious and sometimes fatal) occur as a result of poorly guarded work equipment or improper use (eg unsafe interventions such as clearing blockages, maintenance or repair activities being undertaken when machinery is running). To prevent and reduce the risk of serious or fatal injury adequate arrangements and systems of work are required.

Machinery related legislation

Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 [PUWER]

These Regulations require that the 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, eg protective devices, markings, warnings.

Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 [LOLER]

These Regulations require that lifting equipment provided for use at work is: strong and stable enough for the particular use; marked to indicate safe loading loads; positioned and installed to minimise any risks; used safely, ie the work is planned, organised and performed by competent people; and subject to ongoing through examination and, where appropriate, inspection by competent people.

What can be done to reduce the risks?

Use the right equipment for the job.

Many accidents happen because people have not chosen the right equipment for the work to be done. Controlling the risk often means planning ahead and ensuring that suitable equipment or machinery is available.

Preventative actions:

  1. Risk assess your work activities and introduce (and maintain) safe systems of work for all the machinery in use. Useful information on safe systems of work for the use of balers and compactors can be found in Guidance for the recovered paper industry. The underlying principles of this guidance can be applied to other machinery (eg, conveyors, shredders, trommels etc.) used in the waste and recycling industry.
  2. Ensure all fixed guards are in place (and are replaced after removal) and secured to ensure access to moving parts is not possible when the machine is in operation.
  3. During, cleaning, repair or maintenance activities inadvertent powered movement can be prevented by securely isolating the plant from power sources – usually the electricity supply, but can also involve hydraulic and pneumatic power, and take into account the dissipation of stored energy if applicable. Security ('lock off') can be provided by padlocks on electrical isolator switches, for instance, and multi-user padlocks can be provided if more than a single maintenance worker is involved.
  4. Further information on Machinery lock-off procedures has been produced by the Environmental Services Association (ESA).
  5. Permits to work can be utilised for more extensive plant, more complex management systems, and where entry into confined spaces may be required.
  6. Ensure operators have received appropriate information and training relating to the safe operation of machinery.

Other issues

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Updated 2023-08-08