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Safety Systems Technology has introduced a standalone electro-sensitive protective equipment periodic inspection and test service that can be tailored to suit the requirements of individual sites.

Gary Trewhitt of Safety Systems Technology has warned that many employers are unaware that carrying out regular Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) inspections may not be enough for them to meet their legal obligations in respect of machinery safety.

In particular, special requirements apply to machines that incorporate electro-sensitive protective equipment (ESPE) such as light curtains, and these requirements often fall outside the scope of routine PUWER inspections.

To address the increasing use of ESPE in modern machines, where it often takes the place of traditional guarding, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) published ‘HSG180 – Application of Electro-Sensitive Equipment Using Light Curtains and Light Beam Devices to Machinery’.

The publication is provided for guidance only but, because of the safety critical nature of the use of ESPE, employers are well advised to follow its provisions unless they can demonstrate very good reasons for doing otherwise.

The section of HSG180 that deals with inspection and test states in paragraph 118 that ‘installations using ESPE should be inspected at suitable intervals’.

In paragraph 124, it goes on to explain that the recommended maximum interval between each periodic inspection and test is six months for type four ESPE and 12 months for type two ESPE, and that this interval will also depend on the equipment it is fitted to and the risk as a whole.

In other words, there are multiple factors that determine how often ESPE should be inspected and tested but, in many cases, this will be more often than routine PUWER assessments are carried out on the machine.

It is these cases that create a potential pitfall for employers who are not fully aware of the requirements relating to ESPE, as simply carrying out regularly scheduled PUWER assessments is not enough – the ESPE will require additional inspection and testing.

It is also important to note that, as with PUWER assessments, the inspection and testing of ESPE must be carried out by a person with appropriate competence.

Safety Systems Technology’s service accurately follows the guidance given in HSG180 and includes inspection of the ESPE to that ensure that it is the correct distance from the danger zone, ensuring that safeguards are in place to prevent access to the danger zone from directions not covered by the ESPE, testing the response time and detection capability of the ESPE installation, inspecting any stopping performance monitor that may be fitted, and testing primary machine control elements to ensure correct functioning.

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