Signage's Role in Waste Industry Machinery Safety

Waste and Recycling Signage

Fatal machinery accidents at GB waste and recycling sites have increased significantly over the past 20 years. Today machinery safety is the most common cause of fatal accidents at British recycling and recovery plants. 

The latest formal guidance issued by WISH (Waste Industry Safety and Health Forum) : PRINCIPLES OF MACHINERY SAFETY RECYCLING AND RECOVERY PLANT addresses key safety principles, such as how the machine will be used, selecting the most suitable machine f

or the job, the effect of organisational culture may have on worker and manager behaviour alike and the importance of considering how individual machines fit together in a production assembly.

In section 3 the document discusses the benefits of clear safety signage. Of course, signage should not be relied on as a primary machinery safety control measure. However, signage can be a useful back-up to other more effective control measures. Signage is required is some machinery situations, such as emergency stops. In other cases whether signage is used, and its location, is a matter for risk assessment. Examples include:

  • Warning and/or other signs at frequently accessed guards, machine/perimeter fencing access gates etc, such as reinforcement signs that isolation and lock-off are required prior to access
  • Warning signs at areas where dangerous parts may be accessible, even if a deliberate effort may be required such as feed hoppers to shredders etc similar
  • Signage at machine/perimeter fencing prohibiting climbing, or as any other location where climbing could result in access to a dangerous part

Signs should be compliant with relevant standards and include the use of pictograms as required, in particular where there may be workers whose first language is not English. Signs should also be kept clean and be clearly visible.

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