Equipment in the Workplace
20 October 2023
Equipment in the workplace can be a cause for a serious accident. Unfortunately some of these accidents can be fatal. According to the Health and Safety Authority of Ireland (HSA) work equipment can be described as ‘any machinery, appliance, apparatus, tool or installation for use at work‘. This description is very broad and it demonstrates that the scope of work equipment is very extensive.
eLearn Safety offers a list of relevant courses that look into equipment in the workplace and its use. A solid starting course is Workplace Safety – Level 1. This course is ideal for every employee in any workplace that’s subject to Health and Safety Legislation. Safety in the workplace is everyone’s responsibility. It provides all employees who participate on this course with information on how to identify hazards and carry out simple risk assessments.
Equipment in the Workplace and the Law
The Safety Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations, 2007 sets out the requirements with regard to equipment in the workplace. It is impossible to list all the equipment that might be used in a workplace setting, but it generally includes the following:
- Plant – large fixed or mobile equipment such diggers, forklift trucks, tractors, cranes, etc.
- Machinery – seemingly harmless equipment such as printer machines, cookers, but also meat slicers, band saws, circular saws, etc.
- Tools – simple tools such as screwdrivers, knives, pliers, etc.
Employer and Employee Duties in Regard to Equipment in the Workplace
Both employers and employees have a number of duties under the 2005 Act in terms of equipment in the workplace. For a more comprehensive list of employer and employee duties please see HSA page titled Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005. In broad terms we can describe duties as follows:
- Employers – have the responsibility to provide and maintain suitable and safe equipment in the workplace. An employer is also responsible for providing training and information on risks and precautions associated with use of the equipment in the workplace.
- Employees – have the responsibility to select the suitable machine/tool for the work to be undertaken, make sure they are trained in its use and operate the machine/tool according to the safe working procedures.
Main Dangers arising from the Equipment in the Workplace
Some of the dangers of the equipment in the workplace are:
- Traps and Entrapment – Moving equipment, such as presses and hydraulic jacks can trap body parts.
- Contact – Abrasions, bruising or friction burns can occur when people accidentally come into contact with moving parts.
- Impact – Moving parts may hit operators or the public if unguarded or badly sited.
- Ejection – Some unguarded equipment, e.g. drills and saws, may throw off bits of metal or wood.
- Entanglement – Moving machinery such as rollers, cogs and conveyors that can entangle hair, jewellery and clothes, even pulling whole bodies into machinery.
There are a number of controls that can be used to minimise dangers associated with the use of the equipment in the workplace. For additional information about Hierarchy of Controls, please see eLearn Safety blog entry from 24th February 2023 titled Workplace Hazards.
Guarding is often used as a method of controlling the risks associated with moving parts and machinery. Some guards act as a permanent barrier to prevent people from gaining access to a dangerous area. Other moveable types will prevent the machine from operating unless the guard is in place. It is important that guards and other safety features, such as emergency stop buttons and alarms are working correctly. If they are not, the machinery should not be used.
When selecting equipment in the workplace, it is important to choose the safest possible option for a work activity. All equipment must be CE marked and suitable for the task to be used for.
Some general rules for using any workplace equipment apply:
- Select the right equipment for the right job.
- Make sure the equipment is maintained and in good condition.
- Report broke, damaged or worn equipment to a supervisor.
- Only use equipment you have been trained to use.
- Use all equipment correctly.
- All equipment should be stored correctly after use.
All equipment in the workplace must be well maintained to ensure it is in safe working order. The maintenance should be carried out according to the manufacturer’s instructions by a competent person.
Equipment is only as safe as the person using it!
Online Health and Safety Training
Proactive Health and Safety training is critical to ensure a safe workplace. An effective training program can reduce the number of worker injuries and deaths. It can also reduce instances of property damage, legal liability, illnesses, and missed time from work.
Health and Safety training helps establish a culture in which employees themselves help promote proper safety procedures while on the job. It is important that new employees be properly trained and embrace the importance of workplace safety. The role of training in developing and maintaining effective hazard control activities is a proven and successful method of intervention.
This is why we have established Myelearsafety school. We pride ourselves in how we guide, support and mentor our students. They receive support throughout their learning experience and into their working lives. Our staff have extensive training experience and also have many years industry experience. We understand the challenges that exist within Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety. Our priority is to ensure that all learners are fully prepared to differentiate themselves in the workplace after completing our Health and Safety courses.
Myelearnsafety offers fully online Health and Safety courses.
To find out more, please check our Courses page.
Alternatively, should you need any additional information, please do not hesitate to let us know via email firstname.lastname@example.org