ARTICLE

Bureaucracy's the bugbear

25 January 2013

Does health and safety correlate with wealth and prosperity? Chris Dee, executive director of BCAS (British Compressed Air Society) ponders the question It would seem that in the current economic climate it is not the

Does health and safety correlate with wealth and prosperity? Chris Dee, executive director of BCAS (British Compressed Air Society) ponders the question

It would seem that in the current economic climate it is not the case that health and safety correlate with wealth and prosperity if we accept the protests of industry trying to find a way out of the current difficulties. To be more precise it is the bureaucracy that goes with health and safety that seems to be at issue.

During challenging times, the focus for an established business is on maintaining the business, securing current markets while looking for new markets. The entrepreneurs starting a business are focussed on developing a customer base. In neither case is there a wilful disregard for health and safety matters, it would indeed be a boost to industry if the 'red tape' was relaxed.

Most of industry is aware that the management of health and safety is done through risk assessment and that the reporting of injuries, diseases and dangerous occurrences results in additional paperwork.

Compressed air equipment has the potential to cause harm if it is misused or abused.

Equipment such as blowguns can cause serious injury if not used with care and by trained operators, observing all the safety procedures needed for what seems to be a very simple device. Injuries from such equipment add to the burden of paperwork in the reporting of incidents. The process of training in the use of such equipment seems far less onerous after an accident.

The products of the compressed air industry form the basis of many industrial processes. These can be as control or motive power or as pneumatic tools.Manufacturers of compressed air equipment of all types need to comply with legislation that demands safe equipment to be placed on the market. Among the many provisions to be met are those which, when the equipment is put into use, reduce harm to the operator.

These provisions require that equipment operates as quietly as possible or, for handheld power tools, there is the need to design low vibration into the pneumatic tool.

Having done this the manufacturer is then required to identify the noise and vibration figures in the instructions to the user.

The provision of such work equipment is subject to the need that it is safe to use and that the operator is trained in its use. That work equipment must then be seen to fulfil the need to control issues such as noise and vibration at work. The operator needs to have health checks to find out if there are any related issues to address such as impaired hearing or hand/arm vibration symptoms.Monitoring is required for both noise and vibration and daily noise and vibration limits have to be observed.

Some compressed air equipment produces what is now called hazardous waste which can be oily condensate or some types of exhausted dryer materials or any oil contaminated service and maintenance items. Trade effluent includes oily condensate and needs to be disposed of. The user can chose to dispose of this down the foul sewer if there is a licence to discharge from their local water authority. Alternatively the condensate with the exhausted dryer material is put into the hazardous waste system and can be disposed of using a licensed waste carrier.

Having filled in all the forms and got all the licences required and done all the health checks industry can now get down to the business of creating wealth and contributing to the prosperity of all.

If you have any questions regarding any aspect of operating your compressed air system please email technical@bcas.org.uk or visit the website - www.bcas.org.uk for further information.
 
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