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News

HSE advises caution in the use of gas forges

HSE InfoLine : 30 August, 2005  (Company News)
The Health and Safety Executive has recently investigated several complaints relating to flame failure devices on gas forges used primarily by farriers. The key issues are the purchase of suitable equipment and safe operation of the forge.
The Health and Safety Executive has recently investigated several complaints relating to flame failure devices on gas forges used primarily by farriers. The key issues are the purchase of suitable equipment and safe operation of the forge.

Under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, employers and the self-employed have a duty to ensure that work equipment complies with relevant standards. A build-up of unburned gas can lead to explosions, so gas appliances must be constructed so that during ignition and flame extinction a build-up of gas is avoided. This means that an FFD should be fitted that shuts off the gas supply if it is not burning.

In some situations such as high winds, the gas may go out, so operators may deliberately override the FFD. While this may not present a high risk in the open air, it is crucial that the device is reinstated prior to moving the forge and working in an enclosed space.

Tony Mitchell, of HSE's Agriculture Safety Section, said:

'HSE cannot condone in any way the deliberate overriding of FFDs and certainly expects that whenever these types of forges are used in a workroom the FFD must be operating correctly. Should an incident occur, as well as risking serious injury, the forge operator could face legal and civil action which might well jeopordise the business.

'When choosing a gas furnace, users should check for evidence that the equipment meets basic safety standards. If work in the open air is envisaged and the FFD is likely to cause problems, the use of cowls and wind breaks should be considered. Manufacturers of mobile forges can also help by looking at their designs to minimise the problem.'
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