It’s worth taking a closer look at the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and, in particularly, why its requirement for regular inspections helps drives productivity as well as safety and compliance.
FOR BUSINESSES that operate any form of mechanised work equipment or machinery, including industrial doors and dock levellers, it is crucial to prioritise PUWER.
If your business, however large or small, operates machinery and other mechanised equipment on a regular basis, including industrial doors, dock levellers, gates and barriers, you need to keep PUWER front of mind.
And it’s not just employers who need to understand their responsibilities under PUWER regulations, it also covers individuals whose job it is to supervise equipment use, as well as the self-employed.
PUWER’s main provisions require employers to:
- Verify that work equipment is both safe and appropriate for its intended purpose.
- Provide information, instruction, and training on the correct use of equipment.
- Protect employees from hazardous machinery parts.
- Ensure proper maintenance of equipment, regardless of its age, by a competent person.
The importance of maintenance
While PUWER is there to make work safer for employees, its requirement that every piece of machinery is regularly serviced, inspected and recorded by a competent worker can have significant business benefits, too. Much more than box-ticking, this obligation to undertake at least annual inspections helps keep industrial doors and shutters operating at peak performance, improving productivity, reducing downtime and extending the life of the equipment, whilst also ensuring safety and compliance.
Accidents can happen and, with many industrial doors weighing several hundred kilos, they can happen fast. Neglecting regular maintenance can lead to serious accidents and injuries, potentially resulting in prosecution under the Health Safety at Work Act 1974 for failing to ensure the safety and welfare of employees, visitors, and even trespassers.
Taking a preventative approach
“Without maintenance, faults with the equipment can go undetected and lead to injury or worse. By taking a preventative approach to equipment maintenance, businesses can detect faults early, spot signs of wear and tear, repair or replace broken or damaged parts, preventing unexpected failures that could lead to costly downtime,” explained iDoor Solutions’ Operations Manager, Alick Jeffery.
“PUWER requires at least 12 monthly inspections, but for equipment that is in high usage, more frequent inspections will be needed, and a risk assessment will help decide how often. This will also depend on factors including the type of equipment and the environment it is being used in. For example, parts of doors and shutters in damp atmospheres such as wash bays can be susceptible to corrosion,” he said.
To ensure that loading bays and industrial doors remain in good condition, it is essential to adhere to the manufacturer’s maintenance instructions, particularly in the case of safety-critical features.
All maintenance activities should be carried out by a competent person, and for industrial doors and loading bays, this means working at height, as Alick noted, “We take training for these jobs very seriously, as things can go wrong quickly. All our engineers are fully IPAF accredited, and are equipped with the requisite skills, knowledge, experience and appropriate equipment to ensure that all maintenance is carried out safely and effectively.”
Resolving issues effectively
By implementing a robust procedure for reporting damaged or faulty equipment, you will enable timely and effective resolution of issues. Providing appropriate tools for maintenance personnel is also important to ensure the safe and effective execution of maintenance activities.
To minimise risks to both workers and maintenance personnel, maintenance activities should be scheduled with due consideration for the work environment. For example, maintenance activities that require the closure of loading bays or industrial doors should be scheduled outside normal working hours to limit disruption.
Safety is of paramount importance during maintenance activities, and adequate precautions such as isolation or locking of machines and moving parts should be taken to prevent accidents.
For operational reliability, and to ensure doors and dock levellers are compliant with all current workplace regulations, many businesses choose preventative maintenance contracts with their equipment supplier for total peace of mind.
“At iDoor Solutions, our preventative maintenance contracts cover all the bases. We contact customers to inform them when services are due and make arrangements for it to be carried out at a time suitable to their ongoing operation. Our approach to health and safety is uncompromising, and we adhere to all recognised standards. We also manage all the data to ensure that in event of a problem, all relevant service and repair data is up-to-date and available for inspection,” Alick stated. There are a range of ways maintenance can extend the life of industrial doors, docking levellers, gates and barriers:
Know your equipment
Ensure all operators know how the equipment works. Also, it’s important to know the equipment’s age, how long it’s expected to last, and if there are any known issues. This will help you use it safely and prevent any damage. Plus, you’ll have a better idea of what to expect, and if something doesn’t go as planned, you’ll know what to do.
Use the equipment correctly
Correct usage is the best way to protect your equipment; look after your industrial doors and dock levellers and they’ll perform better and last longer. Take care not to abuse the equipment, for example, closing a heavy manual door too quickly so it hits the floor with significant force will soon cause damage. Ensuring that forklift operators and truck drivers take care of the equipment when loading and docking will help minimise impact damage.
Regular inspections on equipment can identify inconsistencies and issues that may not be noticed in day-to-day use. These inspections must be undertaken by a competent person and recorded correctly. A preventative maintenance contract should ensure full compliance for peace of mind.
Regular servicing and maintenance can avoid unnecessary costs caused by unexpected breakdowns. A preventative maintenance contract will help keep you compliant and with maximise uptime.
A stitch in time
Keeping your equipment in top condition means looking out for signs of wear and tear, damage and corrosion, and taking action before they become a problem. It is often best to replace parts as soon as possible to prevent damage or wear to other parts. Like the tyres on your car, for some parts, such as tension springs, it is recommended to change both springs on either side of the door. This ensures both springs will be perfectly tensioned compared to operating with one new spring and one older spring. It is also more cost effective to change both springs at the same time.
Log any issues
Whilst routine preventive maintenance allows you to monitor the condition of equipment and undertake any necessary service or repairs, having your team inspect equipment on a daily basis provides maximum visibility into equipment health. Having a clear reporting procedure for employees who may notice problems while using the doors or dock levellers will ensure issues are resolved quickly and effectively.