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This section covers the main hazards caused by the machinery itself. Many pieces of machinery use force and motion to cut, bend, join or shape materials. This force and motion can harm people. Some of the ways people can be hurt are covered in this section. Machines and machinery parts in the figures section are unguarded to show the hazards and danger zones.

Flowchart 2 shows the most common types of machinery hazards. Every flywheel directly connected to a prime mover and every moving part of a prime mover should be securely guarded, unless it is safe because of its position or construction. It must be safe for everyone in the workplace. Prime movers also include motors powered by burning solid, liquid, or gas fuels such as coal, petrol or natural gas.

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Transmission machinery takes energy from a prime mover to the part of a machine where it is used. Every part of any transmission machinery should be securely fenced unless, because of its position or construction, it is safe. Figure 4 shows some ways operators can be injured by this type of machinery. Transmission machinery can include gears, shafts, pulleys and belts, chains and sprockets, or friction drives. All transmission machinery should have a device in every room or workplace to cut the power to the machinery.

Figure 5 shows some ways operators can be injured by drawing in and trapping hazards, such as:. Figure 6 shows some ways operators can be injured through crushing hazards that can happen when part of the body is caught:. Figure 7 shows some ways operators can be injured by impact hazards. Examples include the rotating arm of a robot, the reciprocating bed of a metal planing machine and the arms of a wool-scouring machine.

Impact hazards are different from crush hazards even though the machines involved may be the same. Impact hazards involve the inertia of the body while crush hazards involve trapping the body between two machine parts or between a machine part and a fixed structure. Friction burns can be caused by smooth parts operating at high speed.

Figure 8 shows some ways operators can be injured by friction and abrasion hazards. Examples of friction or abrasion hazards include:.

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Entanglement is when someone is caught in a machine by loose items such as clothing, gloves, ties, jewellery, long hair, cleaning rags, bandages or rough material being fed into the machine. Figures 9, 10 and 11 show some ways operators can be injured by entanglement with machinery. Contact that can lead to entanglement includes:.

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Shearing trims or shears metal or other material with a powered knife or slide. Shear points are found where stock is inserted, held and withdrawn. Figures 12 and 13 show some ways operators can be injured by shearing hazards. Cutting hazards exist at the point where wood, metal or other materials are cut. Figure 14 shows some ways operators can be injured by shearing hazards.

Cutting hazards may involve rotating, reciprocating or sideways motion. Danger exists at the cutting point, where a finger, arm or body part can be injured. Flying chips or scrap material can strike the head, particularly in the eyes or face. The danger is worse if the person caught cannot move away from the cutter.

The human body can be pierced by flying objects. Figure 15 shows some ways operators can be injured by stabbing and puncturing hazards. For example:.

The human body can also be pierced by rapidly moving parts of machinery or pieces of material. Ergonomic hazards come about through the way the operator interacts with the machine. Sometimes machinery is not always designed for how an operator must use the machine. For example, operators may have to overreach, reach above shoulder height, hold awkward postures, and use repetitive or forceful movements.

Having to work this way can cause damage to nerves, muscles and tendons. Ergonomic hazards can cause serious harm to operators, but they do not need to. These hazards can be removed at the design stage.

Check whether tasks require repetitive movement or there is a risk of musculoskeletal injuries and gradual process disease. Good layout makes any guarding better at keeping people safe. Machines that are poorly placed or too close together can be unsafe, even if guarded.

The main point of machine guarding is to stop workers reaching past the guard into the machine. When deciding on the best way to guard a machine, consider how a worker uses and interacts with a machine ergonomic principles.


Many chemicals used with machinery can harm workers. Assess all chemicals for hazardous health effects. Protect workers at all times from inhaling steam, fumes, dust and other airborne contaminants in the workplace. Remove any contaminants made as part of the work at the source. If it is not practical to completely remove or isolate the hazardous substance, you must minimise any risk of harm to the employee.

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New technology, new machinery or changes to machinery can introduce new hazards. At these times, always complete a hazard assessment and consult with workers. Employers must take measures to prevent fatigue causing harm, such as when employees must drive or use dangerous machinery. But they must have systems to identify and deal with such factors when they can affect workplace safety.

Shift-work can be hazardous because it disrupts normal rest patterns. Employees need enough recovery time outside work so they can be safe and productive at work.

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The wiring and fittings of machinery connected to the mains or similar must meet all legal requirements and must be installed by a registered electrician. A certified, professional third party must do all tagging and testing in line with electrical regulations.

All portable or handheld machinery that gets power from electricity should be used with an isolating transformer or residual current device, where needed. Get specific advice from the electricity supplier on the best device to use. When reviewing machinery for non-mechanical hazards, consider how machinery can affect the area around it. A thorough hazard identification process needs to consider the effect environmental factors such as lighting, heat, and cold have on workers when using machinery. Make sure the work area is well lit. Poor lighting can be a hazard. Sometimes the machine or guards can block normal lighting so extra local light is needed.

Also put local lighting in regular maintenance areas that are poorly lit, such as inside some electrical compartments where electrical isolation is needed for access. Employers must take all practicable steps to reduce any risk of harm to people from machinery noise. Machinery noise should be eliminated, or through isolation kept to a level that does not damage hearing. Where neither option is practical, employers must put systems in place to make sure people exposed to the noise are unlikely to suffer harm.


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Noise limits for an 8-hour day, peak noise levels and protective measures are in HSE Regulation No machine should be driven or used at an unsafe speed. Where a designer or manufacturer recommends a working speed for a machine, do not go any faster. Maintain machines so there is no dangerous vibration when the machine is working or when moving parts and cutters are run at idle or full speed. All machinery must be secured to the floor or other structure so that it cannot tip, become unstable or create any other hazards, unless it is designed to be portable.

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Large machinery may need a lot of guarding, which needs to be removed for maintenance access. Design guards to come off easily and be handled by one person. Well-placed handles make removing, lifting and handling easier and reduce the risk of manual handling injuries. Operators and employees need safe access into, on and around machinery. Workers need a stable work platform that is right for the work they need to do.

The operator should be able to keep good posture while working. The platform must give a sure footing, a safe working environment and prevents falls it is at height. Larger machinery and equipment can have enclosed areas that are difficult to get to. In confined spaces, oxygen levels may be low or there may be harmful levels of gas, vapour or dust. Design machinery and work processes to minimise oil loss or spillage. Clean up spills as soon as possible and avoid any oily residues on the floor. Provide a rough anti-slip floor where this is not practical.

Flowchart 3 shows the more common hazards associated with machine operations. Apart from the hazards associated with the normal running of the machine, the flowchart also covers hazards associated with cleaning, maintenance and repair, along with irregular hazards. HSE Regulation 17 requires employers must make sure machinery is safe to clean, maintain and repair. Procedures must be put in place for these activities and workers trained to follow them. Hazard and risk assessment is a process to determine how significant a hazard is and what harm it could cause. Every identified hazard must be assessed to see if it is a significant hazard — something that could cause serious harm.

If it is a significant hazard, it must be controlled using the hierarchy of controls. If it is not a significant hazard the employer must still take all practicable steps to ensure the equipment is safe for employees to use. Use flowchart 4 to work through the hazard and risk assessment process.