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#150483 - 05/07/05 05:42 AM HSE
gideonr Offline
Member

Registered: 12/18/04
Posts: 152
Loc: Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
I could be wrong about this, as I'm still learning, but anyway...

The last time we went to get some timber from a merchant, the timber was too long to go in our van. The man in the warehouse had to cut them all to length with a handsaw as he said the health and safety executive had confiscated their power mitre saw.

I believe it's like this: these saws have insufficient guarding and are causeing a disproportionate number of workplace injuries. HSE have decided that for management to provide one of these in a workplace is an offence, and the saw itself is evidence of the offence and is to be treated accordingly. If the management objects HSE can just serve a prohibition notice on the works.

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#150484 - 05/07/05 01:00 PM Re: HSE
Alan Belson Offline
Member

Registered: 03/23/05
Posts: 1801
Loc: Mayenne N. France
The UK Health and Safety Executive operate in many areas by legislation - The H&S. at Work Act 1974, The Management of H&S. at Work 1992, The Provision of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, COSHH (chemical hazards), among others. They have 'HSE Woodworking Sheet No 36' which sets out the legal position for safe use of these saws, and best practice for their employment. It's impossible to speculate on individual cases, (although in another post the subject of confiscation of mitre-saws was mentioned), but the saw at the yard was removed, so it's possible that an offence, in either it's guarding provision, condition/maintenance, operator training, control over access, lack of a company H&S Plan, lack of eye-protection or masks, lack of extraction when cutting hazardous materials like MDF, an unsuitable operation, the wrong type of blade, no electric brake, perhaps the Inspector wanted a 110 volt supply, - or even found a slippery floor due to sawdust not being cleaned up.
HSE include Radial-Arm saws in this catagory. They investigated 276 serious accidents with these machines in the ten years up to 2002, many being caused by poor or NO operator training, no guarding, operator stupidity, & unsuitable work practices, and ranged from serious finger injuries to complete amputation at the wrist. 'Left-handers' are particularly at risk. Since these machines form a vital part of the production process in such diverse industries as furniture making, carpentry shops, plastic-window fabrication, shop fitting, alumin(i)um extrusion trimming etc., I doubt if a 'blanket ban' exists. I feel the real problem is how close your left hand has to be to the blade while cross cutting, the HSE recomendation of one foot (300mm) is just not practical. To be honest, a handsaw is little extra effort, and you have got to be pretty determined to slice your hand off with one! An enthusiastic Inspector worth his corn would have little problem 'confiscating' some Far East origin 'cheap-and-not-so-cheerful' saws now on the market; quite frankly they can be lethal, with flimsy guards and poor construction. HSE costs about £260 million a year to run, that's about £0.20 pence per UK employee per week. It has under 4000 employees of which nearly 50% are inspectors.
I guess sometimes HSE oversteps the mark, but the UK has one of the best records in employee health and safety in the world, and is getting that cheap, in my opinion.

Alan
_________________________
Wood work but can't!

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#150485 - 05/08/05 05:54 AM Re: HSE
Trumpy Offline

Member

Registered: 07/05/02
Posts: 8540
Loc: SI,New Zealand
Guys,
I'm not sure if this should be moved to the Occupational Safety Discussion Area or not.
Paul, what do you think?.
But one thing I have to say is, I agree with Alan B's comments, we had a related discussion in this thread , and saws seem to have a dis-proportionate number of injuries associated with them, mainly because of the lack of training and other factors that Alan mentions.
I'd be interested to know the number of thumbs lost with a Radial Arm saw.
Thing is though, with any power tool, keep your eye on where the blade/cutter is going.

[This message has been edited by Trumpy (edited 05-08-2005).]
_________________________
Let's face it, these days if you're not young, you're old - Red Green grin

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#150486 - 05/08/05 02:43 PM Re: HSE
pauluk Offline
Member

Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England
 Quote:
I'm not sure if this should be moved to the Occupational Safety Discussion Area or not.
Paul, what do you think?.

Agreed. Although initially referring to the British HSE (Health & Safety Executive), it might be interesting to get a wider perspective and maybe some comparisons with OSHA from our U.S. friends.

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#150487 - 05/09/05 04:21 AM Re: HSE
Alan Belson Offline
Member

Registered: 03/23/05
Posts: 1801
Loc: Mayenne N. France
I spoke to HSE today regarding the use of mitre saws. There is no 'blanket ban' on their use. However, an inpector could demand a saw be withdrawn from use if it was deemed 'unsuitable for purpose' under the Provision of Work Equipment Regulations, or for some safety/training/access issue. Also, an inspector could demand the cessation of use of mitre saw if more approptiate ( ie less risk ) equipment for the work was available, such as a table-saw with a sliding carriage. Any equipment can be 'impounded' by an inspector if he has doubts that work may continue with it once he has left the premises. Only a complete idiot would continue to use equipment 'vetoed' by an inspector, given the massive fines that can be levied, plus the risk of imprisonment if a subsequent injury was caused to an employee.
Alan
_________________________
Wood work but can't!

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#150488 - 05/28/05 01:04 PM Re: HSE
pauluk Offline
Member

Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England
While I'm all for safety, with some of the horror stories we have heard in recent years about HSE inspectors, I can't help but feel that some of them would have felt quite at home as gestapo agents.

It would be interesting to see exactly which part of the law says that an inspector may confiscate (i.e. take without permission) a piece of private property just because in his opinion it may not comply with the rules. Whatever happened to due process?

Alan,

I don't know if you might be able to confirm this, but a couple of years ago on TV there was a report which stated that France has no direct equivalent to the British HSE, yet their workplace accident rate is no higher than in the U.K.

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#150489 - 05/28/05 03:29 PM Re: HSE
Alan Belson Offline
Member

Registered: 03/23/05
Posts: 1801
Loc: Mayenne N. France
You are quite right Paul, there is no 'equivalent' here, safety issues are dealt with at prefecture (city hall) level, probably at the cost of one part-time clerk and a filing cabinet of dossiers of the maimed and deceased. The French just love danger. All best summed up by my wife's favorite expression on the French laissez-faire attitude to risk -

"It can't fall over; there's nothing to stop it!"

Alan
_________________________
Wood work but can't!

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#150490 - 06/01/05 01:43 AM Re: HSE
pauluk Offline
Member

Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England
 Quote:
"It can't fall over; there's nothing to stop it!"

LOL!

Thanks for the confirmation Alan. It seems that many things in France are handled by the local Mairie rather than some huge government department.

How about our American friends? Are OSHA inspectors generally helpful, or do you often run into the types who seem to get power-crazed when you give them official authority?

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#150491 - 06/02/05 06:17 PM Re: HSE
Trumpy Offline

Member

Registered: 07/05/02
Posts: 8540
Loc: SI,New Zealand
Paul,
I've met the odd OSH inspector in the course of my work and most of them in my opinion are pretty down-to-earth people.
You might get the odd idiot (usually young, in-experienced pups) that starts firing off warnings and so forth.
Personally I wouldn't like to have to do thier job.
Up-shot of this post is merely to say that I've found the majority of the inspectors I've met to be thoroughly professional.
No doubt anyone that was too "power-crazed" would soon be cut down a peg or two, wether by thier peers or someone "on-site".
_________________________
Let's face it, these days if you're not young, you're old - Red Green grin

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