Among those areas of safety and health disrupted by Covid-19 is testing, whether that be statutory testing required by law or general daily health checks of machinery. So, how can organisations ensure that their equipment is kept safe to use? Below, is advice for organisations to consider adopting before giving the green light to re-start business, on third party or external inspections and on in-house checks.
Third party / external inspections
Organisations should endeavour to fulfil all external/statutory inspections despite the current circumstances. It’s advisable to give access to external inspection bodies in order to fulfil any statutory checks. Inspections should only be cancelled if all options to make the inspections safely have been exhausted and there is no way to inspect in a safe way.
Should there be issues in undertaking scheduled inspections, you should adopt a risk-based process to determine whether equipment is safe to use. When introducing social distancing measures to the workplace, ensure that measures aren’t perceived to be a barrier to carrying out inspections.
In-house checks can be completed daily, weekly, monthly or annually depending on the type of equipment in question. Covid-19 has forced many organisations to close and therefore miss scheduled in house checks.
Before re-starting business or any type of production, missed checks on equipment need to be conducted to determine that the equipment is safe to use. Should the equipment be deemed unsafe to use, organisations should plan alternative methods (which should be determined by a risk assessment) to ensure business can sufficiently resume as normal. Alternative methods may include
- extra supervision
- frequent checks/ monitoring
- different equipment (If fixed scaffolding can’t be checked by a competent person, can mobile tower scaffolding or mobile elevated working platform (MEWP) be used?)
Workers should be briefed with the message of having extra caution when using work equipment, as unmaintained equipment could result in issues with breakdowns or present safety risks.
Areas where third party or in-house checks may have been missed, could be:
- Legionella/ water systems
- Lifting equipment
- Pressure systems
- Local exhaust ventilation
- Racking inspections
- Workplace transport
- Fire inspections
- Routine machinery checks
Managing supplies post Covid-19
Covid-19 has caused a significant rise in the demand for personal protective equipment (PPE). Respiratory protection(RPE), face protection and gloves have all been used to protect people during the pandemic and this shouldn’t be expected to stop once the pandemic calms.
Organisations may see a rise in the number of respiratory masks and gloves requested by workers. Workers may feel safer by continuing to use the safety controls put in place during the pandemic, in the case there is another outbreak.