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by the NFCC


On-site machinery

Hazard Knowledge

Some industries use the word 'plant' to indicate specialist equipment, machinery or industrial premises. For the purposes of this guidance, the word 'plant' has purposely been avoided and is referred to as 'on-site machinery', 'on-site vehicles', 'sites' or 'facilities'.

Types of on-site machinery include:

  • Generic
  • Commercial and business
  • Places of assembly and entertainment
  • Medical facilities
    • Motorised wheelchairs
    • Motorised trolleys
    • Static or movable medical equipment
    • Beds that use electric motors to manoeuvre patients
  • Agriculture
    • Machinery for feeding livestock
    • Automated (robotic) milking systems
  • Waste sites
    • Compactors
    • Shredders
  • Construction sites
    • Small equipment, such as handheld tools up to large-scale machinery

Machinery can present many types of hazards including:

  • Drawing in
  • Entanglement
  • Friction and abrasion
  • Cutting or shearing
  • Stabbing or puncturing
  • Impact or crush injuries
  • Hazardous substances and emissions
  • Noise and vibration
  • Pressure or vacuum
  • Extreme temperatures
  • Electrocution
  • Damage to eyes by intense ultraviolet light from welding equipment
  • Damage to skin from ultraviolet (UV) radiation present in welding equipment 
  • Epidermal injection (hydraulic fluid)

Some machinery is highly automated and may be operated by remote control systems. Machinery may be time controlled and could start up automatically. Similarly, the robotic system may be in an inert phase, but reactivate on a timed or activity-triggered basis.

Machinery may be old or poorly maintained, resulting in the absence of safety equipment; this may increase the risk of entrapment or injury. Machinery may present hazards if not correctly secured, controlled, earthed or isolated. Some machinery, for example, the jibs of cranes, may be purposefully unsecured to prevent damage to them in high winds. 

Machinery may contain moving parts, such as exposed shafts or fan bearings. Some types of machinery have machine guards to offer some protection from moving parts. Safety devices may have been removed or compromised prior to the arrival of personnel.

Machine guards should not be removed until power to the machine has been isolated and confirmed. Where safety devices, such as brakes and interlocks have activated, they should not be overridden before the effect of doing so has been carefully considered. Releasing such devices could result in the uncontrolled movement of machinery.

If a machine is stopped suddenly, for example by a blockage, there may be residual stored energy within the system. When the blockage is removed, the energy released can cause the machinery to move.

On-site machinery may be located in confined or restricted areas, making access and egress difficult and potentially arduous.