All over the world, Covid-19 caused the emergency stop button to be hit on life, leaving disruption, depression and devastation in its wake. Against all this disruption came the interruption to the testing of machinery, whether it be statutory testing required by law or general daily ‘health checks’. So, how can organisations ensure their equipment is kept safe to use? Here’s some advice for organisations to follow before they give the green light to re-starting their business:
Third party / external inspections
Organisations should strive to fulfil all external/statutory inspections despite current circumstances. It’s advisable to give access to external inspection bodies so they may fulfil any statutory checks. Inspections should only be cancelled if all options to conduct the inspections safely have been exhausted.
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, be sure that measures won’t be perceived as barriers to carrying out inspections.
In-house checks can be completed daily, weekly, monthly or annually depending on the type of equipment. Covid-19 forced many organisations to close and therefore miss scheduled in-house checks. Before re-starting a business or any type of production, missed checks on equipment will 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) of ensuring business can resume as normal. Alternative methods may include using different equipment: for example, if fixed scaffolding can’t be checked by a competent person, can mobile tower scaffolding or a mobile elevated working platform (MEWP) be used?
Workers should be briefed to use extra caution when using work equipment because unmaintained equipment could incur breakdowns, with all their associated issues, or cause risks to safety.
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
- Calibration tests on equipment
Managing supplies post Covid-19
Covid-19 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 case there is another outbreak.