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Jeremy Procter, managing director of Procter Machine Guarding and a member of BSI’s MCE/3 committee, has explained the importance of adequate guarding on older machines.

Given the current economic climate and the fact that credit has become harder to obtain, it is not surprising that many companies are delaying the purchase of new machine tools or special-purpose machinery, choosing instead to continue using older machinery.

Other companies are opting to buy pre-owned machinery as a cost-effective alternative to new equipment.

In either case, it is essential that the machinery meets the requirements of current regulations such as the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER 98) and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

One aspect of machinery that has a major influence on the safety of workers is the physical guarding.

Procter Machine Guarding can survey machinery, design bespoke guards and install them.

When undertaking such work, the designers ensure that the new guards comply with all of the applicable standards, such as BS EN 953 (Safety of machinery – Guards – General requirements for the design and construction of fixed and movable guards) and BS EN ISO 13857 (Safety of machinery – Safety distances to prevent hazard zones being reached by upper and lower limbs).

In addition, the guards are designed so that they do not hinder production, as guards that are inconvenient to use can encourage operators and maintenance staff to attempt to override interlocks or remove the guards altogether.

In contrast, well-designed guards can help to reduce the time required for set-up, operation, cleaning and maintenance.

If new guards are being designed, customers have the option to incorporate swarf-handling or coolant-management systems that will further improve uptime.

Moving guards can also be manually operated or powered, with windows or portholes incorporated to provide a good view of the process being safeguarded.

All guards are designed to be sufficiently robust for the intended operating environment, with a tough polyester powder-coated finish in the customer’s choice of colour.

A new set of guards can enhance the aesthetics of a machine, making a positive impact on operatives and visitors alike.

While manufacturing companies sometimes possess the necessary resources to design and install guards in-house, Procter Machine Guarding is experienced in this specialised and safety-critical area, so can usually undertake a project more cost-effectively than the customer.

Moreover, the designers’ experience enables factors such as ergonomics to be taken into account more satisfactorily.

Installation can take place at a weekend or another planned shutdown so as to minimise disruption and, in many cases, avoid any loss of production.

If required, the guarding design and supply service can be expanded into a full machinery safety service.

Depending on the customer’s requirements this can include a PUWER assessment, risk assessment and design, specification and installation of all necessary machinery safety measures.

This might, for example, extend to safety light curtains, pressure-sensitive mats and an upgraded safety-related control system.

Even if this comprehensive machinery safety service is utilised, the resultant cost will be far less than the cost of investing in an all-new machine.

Procter Machine Guarding

Procter Machine Guarding is the UK's leading machinery guarding specialist. From its sites in Leeds and south Wales, Procter offers a comprehensive service to survey, design, manufacture and install machine guards nationwide. Guard types available range from standard products for workshop machine tools through to modular perimeter guarding and bespoke machine guards. All are designed and manufactured in accordance with the latest health and safety requirements. In addition, Procter Machine Guarding offers acoustic enclosures, access platforms and modular cable ducting.

To complement the guarding products, the company provides services including site guarding surveys and compliance surveys. If required, Procter can also be a single point of contact for risk assessments, PUWER assessments, design services and safety-related control systems.

Procter Machine Guarding has developed a number of guides and interactive utilities, all of which can be downloaded free of charge from the company's website. These include a BS EN ISO 14121-1 Risk Assessment Calculator, a BS EN ISO 13857 Safety Distance Calculator, a Guide to the new Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC, a Guide to Machinery Guarding Standards, a Guide to Workshop Safety, and a Machine Accident Investigation Kit.

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