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News

Brakes on for old woodworking machines

HSE InfoLine : 06 November, 2003  (Technical Article)
The five-year transition period for the fitting of brakes to woodworking machines, required by the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1988 will soon expire. Time is also running out for woodworking machines that need to be changed over to limited cutter projection tooling, also known as 'chip thickness limitation' tooling.
The five-year transition period for the fitting of brakes to woodworking machines, required by the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1988 will soon expire. Time is also running out for woodworking machines that need to be changed over to limited cutter projection tooling, also known as 'chip thickness limitation' tooling.

Users of woodworking machines are reminded that safety regulations dealing specifically with braking and LCPT will be mandatory on certain categories of woodworking equipment from 5 December 2003.

The Health and Safety Executive advises that circular saw benches, dimension saws, powered and hand-fed cross cut saws (unless there is no risk of contact with the blade during run down), single-end and double-end tenoning machines, and combined machines incorporating a circular saw and/or tenoning attachment must have appropriate braking devices fitted as soon as possible but in any case no later than 5 December 2003.

Braking devices are not considered necessary where:

machines have a run down time of 10 seconds or less;
the effect of braking could be detrimental to the integrity of the machinery, for example where DC injection braking would cause the motor to burn out; or
machines have been built in conformity with a harmonised European Standard where the standard does not require braking devices.
The fitting of braking will improve safety on woodworking machines, especially those that are hand-fed. Occasionally workers approach the tools either forgetting or being unaware that the machine is still running down. Accidents can also result from a stroboscopic effect of light on the tools, leading workers to believe that they have come to rest when they have not.

5 December 2003 also marks the deadline for users of woodworking machine users to change over to LCPT. It is possible to use this type of tooling on hand-fed vertical spinder moulders; single-end tenoners, high speed routers and other machines onto which a moulding tool can be fitted.

Most woodworking machinery accidents are due to the operator's hands coming into contact with the rotating cutters, usually resulting in an amputation injury. LCPT is designed to reduce the severity of injury. It also lessons the risk of the workpiece being 'kicked back'.

HSE Inspector Martin Lee of HSE's Manufacturing Sector said, 'The transitionary period of five years was given to allow companies time to minimise the financial and organisational impact of modifying existing machinery. The braking and tooling requirements have been widely publicised and industry appears well aware of the issue. Many companies have clearly taken a proactive approach in making the required changes.'

Once the deadline has elapsed inspectors may issue improvement notices to firms that have not yet fitted brakes to relevant machinery or changed over to LCPT.
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