Last edited 26 Mar 2021

Main author

Ansini Engineer Website

How to keep workers safe around machinery

Modern industrial machinery is built with safety in mind. That said, it still needs to be treated with due care and respect. Here is a quick guide to what businesses need to know to keep their workers safe.


[edit] The overall environment needs to be controlled

Businesses need to plan their space so that workers can move freely, even when managing loads. They should ensure that walkways are long enough and wide enough to be safe. All walkways need to be kept clear of obstacles. Spills and leaks must be cleaned up promptly. It’s also vital that businesses provide suitable ambient lighting and sufficient task lighting.

The temperature also needs to be controlled. If it’s too hot or too cold, workers may be unable to concentrate properly. Similarly, there needs to be adequate ventilation. It’s often helpful if there is ample soundproofing although noise can also be addressed with PPE.

Last but definitely not least, workers need convenient access to water, break facilities and toilets. Lack of any one of these can impact their wellbeing and hence their safety (as well as their productivity). They should also have quick and easy access to first aid supplies.

[edit] Each machine needs to be individually assessed

The same comments apply at the level of each individual machine. Consider both how it fits into the whole and how it works on its own.

Additionally, make sure that it’s installed safely. For example, make sure that it cannot tip over and that there are no exposed hazardous parts. This typically means moving parts and/or sharp parts.

Machines need to be set up in accordance with the relevant electrical standards. This includes making sure that they are properly grounded. The inevitable cables will also need to be managed. All machines should have limit switches to shut off the machine if an unsafe operation is detected.

[edit] Workers need to be suitably attired

In the vast majority of machining environments, workers are going to need some form of PPE. It’s worth keeping an eye on what kind of PPE is available as improvements are continually being made. Workers also need to be appropriately dressed. In particular, they need to avoid wearing loose clothing, leaving long hair untied and having jewellery dangling from their body.

[edit] Proper training is vital

Never assume that workers know how to use the machines at all, let alone that they know how to do so safely. Make sure that workers are actively shown correct operating procedures including correct safety procedures. Do periodic checks to ensure that they are operating the machine the way they should. It’s easy to slip into bad habits, especially when you’re tired.

[edit] There must be ongoing safety checks

The general environment, electrical supply and machines all need to be regularly checked and maintained. Facilities and electrical checks will usually be undertaken by dedicated staff. That said, workers should be encouraged to report any issues they see.

Machine-focussed safety checks should be undertaken before and after each shift/change of operator. These checks should also look at the surrounding electricals. For example, they should ensure that connections are tight and that cables are properly out of the way.

--Ansini 11:36, 26 Mar 2021 (BST)

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