Machinery and tools
Only machinery and tools that comply with the relevant requirements and are suitable for the job at hand may be used at work. The manufacturer’s instructions must always be followed when operating machinery or using tools. Machinery and tools must be kept in good order throughout their useful life. The operating of machinery must also be safe for employees.
The Government Decree on the Safety of Machinery (or ‘Machinery Decree’) lays down requirements for the manufacture and design of machinery so as to comply with safety and health requirements. The Act on the Conformity of Certain Technical Devices to Relevant Requirements regulates the design and manufacture of some machinery and the requirements they must comply with.
In addition to the relevant requirements, the safety of all machinery and tools used at the workplace must be at least at the level specified in the Occupational Safety and Health Act and the Government Decree on the Safe Use and Inspection of Work Equipment, regardless of how old the machine or tool is. Old machines must be upgraded to improve their safety as technology evolves. Compliance with legislative requirements in fact mandates that many machines currently in use must be restructured to make them safer.
The employer must ensure that employees are given tools that are safe and suitable for the job and work circumstances at hand. The selection of tools must also take into account the demands of the location and ergonomic requirements. The use of machinery and tools at the workplace is provided for in the Occupational Safety and Health Act and the Government Decree on the Safe Use and Inspection of Work Equipment (the 'Safe Use Decree').
Machinery must be serviced regularly
The employer must ensure that the machinery and tools in use are serviced and maintained regularly in order to keep them in good and safe working order throughout their useful life. There must be procedures in place at the workplace to fulfil this requirement.
The condition of machinery and tools must be continuously monitored through inspections, testing, measurement and other appropriate means. The employer must employ a competent person for managing these duties or outsource this function to an outside expert.
The employer determines the means to be used for hazard investigation and assessment from time to time. For instance, if lifting equipment is used at a workplace, the intervals for regular inspections of that equipment must be based on how much of a strain use puts on each particular device. If someone at a workplace notices that the using of a particular tool creates a hazard or causes harm to any employee, the employer must take immediate action to remove the hazard.
Machinery must be provided with operating instructions
The seller of a machine is responsible for ensuring that operating instructions and any other instructions are supplied with the machine. The seller of a used machine must also supply its operating instructions to the buyer.
Requirements concerning the content of operating instructions for machines may be found for instance in the appendix to the Machinery Decree. Operating instructions must include for instance the following items:
- instructions on how to introduce and use the machine and, if necessary, how to train its operators
- information on any personal protective equipment required
- information on maintenance measures to be performed by the user
- instructions for installing, assembling and disassembling the machine.
It is the employer’s responsibility to instruct you in how to use machinery and equipment safely. Always use machinery and equipment and their safety and protective features in accordance with the employer’s instructions.
Ensure that you are aware of the hazards present in your workplace and all the risk factors due to equipment in your work environment, regardless of whether you actually use that equipment yourself.
Follow all instructions given and take all due care and diligence in using equipment.
Immediately inform the employer of any defects or shortcomings in machinery or equipment that could cause harm or a hazard to your safety or health or that of any other employee.
If you do not know what to do or have not been instructed, ask the employer.
The employer’s responsibilities regarding machinery safety at the workplace are shown in the enclosed figure.
Figure 1. Ensuring safety in the workplace (from Occupational safety and health manuals and guidelines 47. Recommendations for application of the Safe Use Decree).
Employer is responsible for acquisition and installation
The employer is responsible for ensuring that equipment given to employees to use at the workplace is safe if appropriately used, in compliance with the relevant requirements and suitable for the work and working conditions at hand.
In practical terms, this means that the employer must ensure of every machine that it is correctly installed and in working order before it is taken into production use.
Equipment hazards must be established
The employer must systematically investigate and assess the safety of machinery and equipment. Machinery safety must also always be assessed whenever production procedures or work practices are changed.
Safety assessment should focus on hazards and harmful impacts in work and working conditions caused by:
- the item of equipment itself or its moving parts,
- external structures,
- physical and chemical properties,
- automatic functions, or
In the risk assessment of machinery and equipment, the employer may find it useful to consult the SFS-EN ISO 120100 standard (Safety of machinery) and the SFS-ISO/TR 14121-2 technical report (Safety of machinery – Risk assessment – Practical guidance and examples of methods).
Instruction for minimisation and elimination of risks
If, in the investigation and assessment of the hazards caused by a machine, it is found that using the machine creates a hazard or causes harm to any employee, the employer must take immediate action to eliminate the hazard or harmful impact.
A three-step procedure and hierarchy should be employed in eliminating or minimising risks:
- Eliminate risks through safety planning and structural means.
- If risks cannot be eliminated or sufficiently minimised through safety planning and structural means, introduce protective technology.
- Other safety measures such as instructions, warnings, training and personal protective equipment should only be introduced if the risks cannot be eliminated.
Employer’s responsibilities in the operating of machinery
The employer must provide employees with training and guidance particularly in the use of machinery and equipment, specifically:
- correct and safe use,
- settings, adjustments, troubleshooting and testing as necessary,
- avoiding foreseeable incorrect use (if the hazard cannot be otherwise eliminated),
- repairs and maintenance, and
- disassembly and removing from service.
The employer must ensure that employees know how to comply with the instructions given. The employer must also ensure that every machine is used for the purpose and under the conditions specified by the manufacturer.
The employer must further ensure that the operating and maintenance instructions for each machine and piece of equipment are available to employees. The employer must constantly monitor the safety and working condition of the workplace and the machinery and equipment used there through inspections, testing, measurements and other appropriate means.
Ensuring that machinery is in working order
The employer must ensure that every machine is in good working order throughout its useful life through regular maintenance and service and by ensuring the faultless operation of guidance systems and safety features.
The employer must have a maintenance system that describes the procedures for keeping the machinery and equipment at the workplace in safe working order.
The employer must also provide for the commissioning inspection, periodic inspections and comprehensive inspections of the machinery and equipment listed in the appendix to the Safe Use Decree. Such inspections may only be performed by an authorised expert or expert body.
- Section 10 Analysis and assessment of the risks at work
- Section 14 Instruction and guidance to be provided for employees
- Section 21 Use of work equipment and dangerous substances
- Section 41 Use of machines, work equipment and other devices
- Section 43 Initial and periodic inspections of work equipment
- Section 56 Obligations of product manufacturers and suppliers
- Section 57 Obligations of designers
- Section 58 Obligations of the installers of machinery, work equipment or other devices
- Section 59 Obligations of persons carrying out initial and periodic inspections
- Section 2 Choosing work equipment, and its placement
- Section 3 Instructions for use of work equipment
- Section 4 Assessment and elimination of risks
- Section 5 Ensuring the functional condition of work equipment
- Section 6 Properties of guards and safety devices
- Section 7 Warning devices and markings
- Section 8 Control devices and control systems
- Section 9 Starting the work equipment
- Section 10 Stopping the work equipment, and emergency stop
- Annex: Inspections by machinery groups