Controls for Work Equipment

Controls for Work Equipment


A control is the manual actuator that the operator touches, for example a button, foot-pedal, knob or lever. It may operate directily or be linked to a control device, such as a brake, clutch, switch or relay.

The employer will see that although he must meet a few of the following requirements without qualification, he must ensure that most of them are met 'where appropriate'. This qualification relates both to:

  • the features and functioning of the work equipment itself (for example, start, stop and emergency stop controls may be irrelevant to equipment with no moving parts, for example a solar-powered calculator);
  • whether there is a risk associated with its use (for example, start, stop and emergency stop controls would be excessive measures where the risk of injury from moving parts is negligible, such as on a battery-powered desk clock).

The employer must ensure that all equipment controls for work equipment are clearly visible and identifiable, including by appropriate marking as necessary. Wording, symbols, colour, shape and position of controls are important means of compliance with this requirement. The marking and form of many controls is covered by national and international standards. However, additional marking may often be desirable.

The employer must also ensure that, unless it is necessary, no equipment control for work equipment is in a position where someone operating the control is exposed to a risk. Where access to a control necessarily involves such exposure, the employer must take steps to reduce the risk so far is is reasonably practicable.

The employer must take appropriate measures to ensure that anyone who is in a place where they would be at risk due to the starting or stopping of work equipment has:

  • sufficient time to avoid the risk; and
  • suitable means to avoid that risk.

Thus, for example:

  • where the operator lowers barriers to keep people away from danger there should be plenty of time and space for them to get clear;
  • where the system of work is relied upon, training in that system should be given and the system should include a final check to ensure everyone has complied.
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