Why worry about machine guarding?
Machine guards and safety stops are there to protect you from dangerous machinery. This gear is vital to the performance of the vessel, machine guards are vital to the safety of its crew.
Inspect machine guards regularly and fix them if something is wrong. Too many bad accidents have happened because machine safe operating procedures have not been followed.
What HSWA says about machine guarding
Machine guards are an important part of safety onboard.
Crew (both those on wages and those who are self-employed) must take reasonable care to ensure that nothing they do at work harms themselves or any other person. You are responsible for taking sensible safety precautions – making sure machine guards are properly secured, and following safe operating procedures.
Operators and skippers must make sure the boat is safe (so far as is reasonably practicable). Operators must involve workers in managing risks on the boat. This is a good opportunity for you to raise any concerns you have about machine safety and the safety of machine guards on your vessel.
What you should do
1. Never remove covers while machine is going
This includes to clear blockages! Never operate the machine with the covers or guards off! If you have to remove covers for cleaning or maintenance make sure the machine is switched off and isolated from the power source. Consider using a lock-off and tag-off system so only an authorised person can re-start the machine.
2. Always replace guards.
Never operate the machine with the covers or guards off.
3. Never by-pass or short circuit safety cut-out switches.
Winches, cranes, windlasses, conveyors and other pieces of machinery should have emergency stops. Stops may be in many forms including: valves, levers, buttons, switches, and electronic sensors. Some machines are fitted with remote emergency stops so they can be shut down from another area. Some stops are designed to automatically stop the machine if a hazardous part gets exposed –for example when a safety cover or guard is removed.
Points to remember
- DO NOT by-pass any machine’s STOP button, even “just for a short time”.
- Make sure all STOP switches, levers and buttons are clearly labelled in red. Labels or signs should be large, clean and bright.
- Crew must be shown where emergency stop buttons are positioned including equipment they may not be responsible for operating.
- Keep all STOP buttons, levers and buttons free from obstruction.
- Check operation of STOP arrangements regularly. If there is a remote emergency stop button, use it to shut the machinery down occasionally to prove it is working.
Report any accident
A master or skipper must report any accident, incident or serious harm injury under section 31 of the Maritime Transport Act 1994. This applies to all New Zealand vessels. You must report an accident “as soon as practicable”. This means as soon as you are able to do so after you have secured the safety of people, your boat and the environment, and when you have communication available.
Sometimes people are concerned that reporting an accident or incident to MNZ will result in prosecution. In exceptional circumstances, MNZ may use the information provided to support an investigation, however this is very rarely the case.
This information is general guidance only. If you have questions about your responsibilities under HSWA, we suggest talking to your local maritime officer; but for specific advice about your legal duties or setting up your business, we recommend talking to a lawyer.