10-07-2014

If you are an employer and are in ultimate charge of tool hire or purchase then you have a number of boxes to tick in terms of ensuring that products are fit for use by your workforce.

Primarily, employers need to ensure that work equipment meets the requirements laid down by the European community.

It's for this reason that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) says that "reasonable checks for safety and health should be made when selecting and acquiring new work equipment".

This means checking for obvious danger, according to the HSE, as well as CE marking and that the Declaration of Conformity instructions that come with the product are in English.

CE markings let the user know that the product has met the standards of the European community and by checking this is present to begin with you can not only improve the safety levels of your workplace, but also save yourself time and money down the line.

You may think that ensuring safety and adequate testing would be the responsibility of the manufacturer and, in the most part, you would be right.

Those who create the tools have strict regulations to adhere to, but that doesn't mean that you, as an employer, don't have to do your bit as well.

"Although the primary responsibility for the safe design and construction of new products rests with the manufacturer or their authorised representative (also known as the responsible person), equipment users should check when purchasing new work equipment to ensure it is safe," the HSE advises.

This ensures that the equipment "presents no risk to health when introduced to the workplace", according to the organisation and it's something that needs to be included as part of your firm's health and safety agenda.

There are also things that users of the equipment i.e. employees need to bear in mind and this means a good opportunity for those on the ground to work in cooperation with senior management for the greater good.

Primarily, employees must be trained in how to safely select and install equipment properly, as well as how to go about using it carefully.

Education also needs to be provided so that staff can make sure these tools are being maintained properly and remain safe for use in the future.

After all there is little point in just showing people how to install equipment properly if they don't know how to ensure they can keep it safe for the months and even years to come. This is especially the case if the apparatus is used regularly, as it is more likely to deteriorate quicker.

The HSE says that sensible risk assessment is the key, which is best done with a good deal of working together between various parts of the company to form a holistic scheme to keep people safe.

This should come after taking into account the "manufacturer's recommendations for use and maintenance, and ensuring employees are trained and competent," the HSE says.

"This includes taking reasonable steps to ensure new work equipment complies with the relevant European requirements for safe design and construction. You must not use, or permit the use of, unsafe work equipment."

Many of these responsibilities can be merged and done as a joint project but it's essential for the good of the workforce that they are taken seriously

Speedy in your pocket
Get a Speedy Account