Safety of workplace machinery, equipment and tools

Equipment maintenance and checks for safety

A maintenance schedule should be in place to ensure that your equipment is maintained regularly. You should check equipment as often as suggested by the manufacturer or more often if indicated by the risk assessment. Any daily checks should be undertaken as recommended by the manufacturer. This will help prevent problems such as blockages, leaks or breakdowns, which can increase risks.

In addition to the equipment itself, you'll also need to maintain safety devices around the equipment such as guards, alarms, safety cages and warning signs.

If you use heat-producing equipment you should regularly check the environment around it. Floors should be kept clear and there must be adequate ventilation at all times. You also need to remove all combustible materials from the area and regularly maintain and check fire detectors.

Equipment checks required by law

Some types of equipment - from gas appliances and lifting equipment to pressure systems and power presses - require examinations by law, often known as thorough examinations by a competent person, in addition to normal repair and servicing. You need to keep the certificates and records of such checks, detailing the findings and any remedial work carried out to correct faults that were identified.

See appoint a competent person for health and safety.

How to check equipment safely

If any equipment is to be checked or repaired, it should always be turned off and isolated so it can't be started in error.

Most equipment now comes with guidelines for maintenance, including advice on how to carry out equipment checks safely.

Many businesses find it useful to establish documented procedures for maintenance and repair work, such as a permit to work scheme. You can also use warning signs as a visible reminder that equipment is temporarily out of use and/or a lock out system, ie the person doing the maintenance work has a key that prevents the equipment starting up while they work on it.