Since 1 January 1997, pursuant to the Dutch Working Conditions Decree (following from the Work Equipment Directive), employers have been obliged to take necessary measures regarding work equipment. The work equipment must be designed and/or applied in such a way that the health and safety of the employees is not at risk during use. The term 'work equipment' is defined as "any machine, apparatus, tool or installation used at work" and relates to "any activity involving work equipment such as starting or stopping the equipment, its use, transport, repair, modification, maintenance and servicing, including, in particular, cleaning".
Of course, there is work equipment which hardly - if at all - puts their users or other employees at risk (e.g. pens, chairs and paper clips), but work equipment which also falls under the category of machine ("a combination of parts of which at least one is moveable") may pose a risk to its users and other employees and therefore has to meet the minimum safety requirements.
Suppliers have to supply their clients with safe work equipment (machines) and employers having their employees use this equipment have to make sure it cannot pose any risks to their health and safety.
Apart from having the duty of checking physical and measurable data and objects, employers also have to meet several organizational requirements. The latter mainly include activities such as inspecting material and the training of staff. Every employer has to decide for themselves how to perform these tasks and how to integrate them into the organization. In Annex 1, you can find general provisions employers (responsible administrators) have to adhere to.
CE conformity marking
Since January 1995, all machines which are being used within the EU for the first time have had to be provided with a CE conformity marking by the manufacturer. This has also been true for machines which are manufactured for sale, machines imported from outside the EU which have not undergone any adjustments, and machines, either second-hand or new, which have undergone adjustments.
Pursuant to Section 7.2 of the Dutch Working Conditions Decree, machines with a CE conformity marking do not have to be tested to determine whether or not they meet all of the technical requirements as referred to in Chapter 7. However, a hazard identification and risk assessment (RI&E) needs to be conducted which has been specifically developed to measure safe use and the safety of the machine's location within the company.
Hazard identification and risk assessment (RI&E)
Employers have to conduct a hazard identification and risk assessment (RI&E) for all work equipment which is present within the company, including all machines. Depending on the outcome of the RI&E, the item of work equipment (the machine) may need to be adjusted. The technical requirements which need to be met have been laid down in Chapter 7 of the Dutch Working Conditions Decree and have been specified in several policy rules and regulations and working conditions information sheets.
Implementation at the UT
Conducting the RI&E
First of all, it should become clear which work equipment within the company is or will be at the employees' disposal. The work equipment has to meet the minimum safety requirements.
I Information about the item of work equipment:
- Location of the item of work equipment; identification numbers (if any)
It has to be clear which item of work equipment is being assessed.
- Information about the work
What the work equipment item is used for (main use). Examples may be that it is used for sawing, lifting, transporting or increasing pressure.
- Information about possible risks
For every item of work equipment, you have to choose the applicable assessment lists (see the Personnel department webpage). Lists 1, 2 and 3 will almost always have to be used. Lists 4 a-d have to be completed in case the item of work equipment is mobile, mobile and self propelled, serves to hoist and lift loads, or serves to hoist/lift or transport employees, respectively. The assessment will show which risks may be involved in using the equipment. All items in the checklist need to be assessed by either scoring them 'good', 'room for improvement' or 'not applicable'. The items scoring 'room for improvement' may be regarded as possible hazard sources (risks).
II Risk characterization
- What could the identified risk(s) lead to (a minor injury, severe injury, death, environmental damage, a calamity)?
- How often is someone in the danger zone (hardly ever, regularly, permanently)?
- Is there a way to avert the risk(s) (yes, no)?
- What are the chances of this/these risk(s) occurring (little, average, high)?
III Employees exposed to risk(s)
- In which situations or during which activities is/are the identified risk(s) present (e.g. during maintenance, when setting/configuring the equipment, in 'normal' working situations)?
- Which employees are exposed to the risk(s)? Don't forget to also include employees who may indirectly be exposed to these hazards (students, technicians). Which education do these employees have?
IV Action plan
- Assess the risk/each of the risks (see Annex 3): Indicate which measures are being taken to avoid it/them.
Checklist items which have been scored 'room for improvement' have to be treated as follows:
- In case of immediate danger to the employees: shut down the equipment immediately and resolve the shortcomings. In all other cases, a less strict time schedule can be used;
- If only small adjustments need to be made: make them soon.
- If an expensive, complex or very time-consuming adjustment has to be made, you have the following options, respectively: including the intended adjustment in the next budget round, scheduling it for the future or making the adjustment during a production stoppage or other longer period of time in which the equipment is not being used;
- In addition to the minimum requirements for the work equipment itself, there are also provisions on the use of work equipment. Complying with these provisions ensures a higher level of safety.
Technical and organizational measures
In any case, the information provided at least covers the following topics:
- (safe) use of the work equipment (the information provided should match the audience's knowledge and expertise);
- dangers the work equipment poses to the work environment, even if the people present are not directly using the equipment.
Demarcation and marking:
In order to prevent or minimize risks to employees' or students' health and safety, the risks an item of work equipment poses to this health and safety have to be indicated by means of clear markings.
Any item of work equipment the safety of which depends on the manner of its installation, should be inspected after installation and before it is put in operation for the first time to check whether it is correctly installed and is functioning properly and safely. In addition, this type of work equipment should be inspected after any assembly at a new location or new place to check whether it is correctly installed and is functioning properly and safely.
Work equipment subject to external influences (due to regular use, for example) possibly resulting in wear or defects, have to be inspected periodically and be tested if necessary.
Work equipment should also be inspected (or tested) every time exceptional circumstances have arisen which might have harmful consequences for the safety of the work equipment. Exceptional circumstances would in any event include: natural phenomena, changes to the work equipment, accidents with the work equipment and the work equipment being shut off for a long time.
Inspections are to be carried out by an expert natural person (either a UT staff member or a third party). Written evidence of the inspections carried out must be present at the workplace.
Different rules and regulations apply to the inspection of lifts, steam and vapour devices, and to hoisting and lifting equipment. You can find these in the Dutch Lifts Commodities Decree (Besluit liften), the Steam Decree (Stoombesluit) and Section 7.29 of the Working Conditions Decree, respectively.
- Working conditions information sheet no. 11: safety
- Working Conditions Decree, Chapter 7
ANNEX 1: Employer's duties:
The Work Equipment Directive obliges employers to meet specific requirements when placing work equipment at their employees' disposal. The employer's duties are as follows:
- The employer must provide safe machines.
- The machines must be suitable for the work to be carried out. (In other cases, measures need to be taken to minimize risks).
- The employer must ensure careful maintenance of the machines.
- The employer must provide sufficient information. This may be in the form of manuals, but also in the form of oral explanations. In doing so, the employer has to take due care of the minimum requirements for information provision. The information has to include:
- a description of conditions of use
- a description of foreseeable abnormal situations
- past experiences
- the information provided must be appropriate for the operator's level of education.
- The employer must train the operators sufficiently.
- The employer must train maintenance staff specifically.
- The employer must consult employees when carrying out the Work Equipment Directive.
- The employer must have the work equipment inspected by experts before it is put in operation for the first time.
- The employer must have the work equipment undergo periodic inspection or testing if it is subject to influences causing deterioration. The results of the inspection must be kept for a suitable period of time.
- When taking the work equipment outside the company, the employer must carry or provide the user with an inspection certificate.
- The employer must take into accountthe workplace, the employees' posture and ergonomic principles.
- The employer must inform employees about the risks they are or may be exposed to, about the work equipment in their direct environment and about important changes or adjustments (either within the workplace or to the equipment).
- In case of work equipment involving specific risks, the employer must ensure:
- that these items are only being used by qualified staff
- that maintenance work is only being carried out by qualified staff.
Provisions regarding the use of work equipment:
In addition to the minimum requirements work equipment has to meet, as part of the Work Equipment Directive, provisions have also been drawn up regarding the use of the work equipment. Below you will find a short summary of these provisions:
- Work equipment must be installed in such a way that they do not pose a risk to the operator or any other people.
- Work equipment must be erected or dismantled under safe conditions, observing any instructions which may have been furnished by the manufacturer.
- In case lightning may have struck, measures must be taken to protect the people present on the premises and the work equipment.
Self-propelled work equipment:
- Only appropriately trained employees are allowed to operate self-propelled work equipment.
- If the work equipment is being used in a work area, traffic rules must be drawn up and followed.
- Employees must be prevented from entering a work area with self-propelled work equipment on foot. If this cannot be guaranteed, measures have to be taken.
- The transport of employees on mechanically driven mobile work equipment is authorized only where safe facilities are provided to this effect.
- When using combustion engines, sufficient quantities of air must be present.