Restarting plant and equipment
Employers must establish a clear plan for restarting any equipment that has been taken out of service during lockdown. This is to ensure the safety of those who are undertaking the maintenance as well as protecting the equipment from damage. The restart process may require electrical and mechanical isolations to be reconnected, fluids to be refilled and plant and equipment to be reenergised in a specific sequence or order. Planning should therefore be based on manufacturers’ instructions, commonly accepted technical guidance and by making reference to specialist contractors (where required). Employers must also ensure that those who are carrying out the work are competent to do so and the work is correctly coordinated between them to avoid
Whilst the HSE ‘recognises the potential challenges when carrying out legal requirements for thorough examination and testing (TE&T) of plant and equipment as a result of additional precautions people need to take to help reduce risk of transmission of coronavirus (Covid-19)’ they have stated that ‘the law for Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) and Pressure Systems Safety Regulations (PSSR)’ remain in place.
As such, employers must ensure that statutory inspections on lifting equipment, pressure systems, fixed electrical systems, PAT, gas appliances, etc are ‘in date’ prior to the reoccupation of buildings. Employers must also consider whether equipment which has not been used for an extended period of time needs a statutory inspection even if one is not due. For example, where personal lifting equipment has been left in a condition which may have compromised its structural integrity or where a lift needs servicing to ensure it is going to be operated normally and safely.
Training and supervision
In returning plant and equipment into full use, employers must ensure that employees have retained adequate knowledge to use it safely. As such, it may be necessary to run refresher training for certain items and/or systems. This is particularly relevant to employees who only had limited experience prior to the lockdown. Employers must also review the status of any planned periodic refresher training which may have been missed during the lockdown, e.g. forklift truck training.
Employers must also ensure that there is adequate supervision of those using plant and equipment, particularly if sites operate for an extended period of time and/or experienced supervisors are not available.
If you are an employer faced with challenging HR or Health & Safety issues then contact SME Advisor on 0330 333 4997 for advice.