Three main types of hazards can occur during the exploitation of a product: mechanical, non-mechanical and access hazards.
I. Mechanical hazards
If specific machinery or equipment has one or more moving parts, mechanical hazards could be detected. Such hazards can occur when:
- People have access to some of the moving parts of specific machinery or equipment;
- The particular machinery or equipment ejects objects with such a force that can cause harm to people;
- The moving parts of the machinery or equipment in question can reach people.
Given the above, there is a list of common mechanical hazards and associated risks for machinery and equipment that manufacturers of such products should keep in mind during the design and production phases. The list includes the following hazards:
- Rotating shafts, sprockets and gears;
- Hard surfaces that move together;
- Sharp edges of the product (both moving and stationary);
- Scissor or shear action;
- Hose or cable connections.
As associated risks to the hazards listed above can be pointed out the following ones:
- Cutting and puncturing;
- Slips, trips and falls.
II. Non-mechanical hazards
Non-mechanical hazards can lead to severe injuries if they are not controlled adequately. In comparison to the mechanical hazards, these hazards are not associated with the moving parts of machinery or equipment. For example, the non-mechanical hazards can be harmful emissions, chemicals or chemical products, contained fluids, electricity, gas under pressure, or even noise. Sometimes, people exposed to some of the mentioned hazards don’t show signs of injury or illness for years.
Usually, this type of hazards affects the surrounding environment. As possible non-mechanical hazards can be mentioned the following:
- Heat (radiated or conducted), dust, mist or steam;
- Explosive or flammable atmospheres;
- Heavy metals (e.g. mercury, cadmium);
- High-intensity light (e.g. UV, laser);
- Ionising radiation (e.g. microwaves or x-rays);
- Molten materials;
- Ignition sources (e.g. spark or flame);
- Electrical hazards;
- Pressurised fluids or gases.
III. Access hazards
Access hazards are usually associated with access to specific machinery or equipment. One thing is sure, the access has to be suitable for work allowing people to perform their activities and operations in, on and around machinery or equipment, and it must not endanger their life. In this regard, you must consider the following if you want to avoid the presence of any access hazards:
- Protective equipment or materials necessary to undertake specific tasks when being in close contact with machinery or equipment;
- Type of activities performed when accessing machinery or equipment;
- Measures allowing safe access (e.g. ladder, gantry, elevated work platform);
- Probability of exposing people to an unidentified mechanical or non-mechanical hazards when accessing machinery or equipment;
The access to machinery or equipment may vary during each phase of their life cycle. This usually depends on the need for performing predictable tasks, such as:
- Installation or removal;
- Operation and adjustment;
- Maintenance and repair;
- Adaptation or alteration.