Manufacturer’s instructions – Health and Safety at Work

16 March 2023

Do you read the manufacturer’s instructions?

It is always advisable to follow manufacturer’s instructions to understand the operations of a piece of equipment. However, when we are at home generally the ‘man’ will throw away the instructions.  Then try and build or set up the equipment, get frustrated that it doesn’t work, ask his partner to fish out the instructions from the dust bin and then admit defeat.

So other than how to set something up, what other use are the manufacturer’s instructions? Well there is safety legislation that provides a duty to manufacturers to provide suitable information and instructions on safe use. So where is this duty listed? Surely you can guess? Probably the Health and Safety at Work Act?  You would be correct, in particular section 6 of the Act. It is also stipulated in a European Regulation, The Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008 referring specifically to the components of the article and lifting equipment.



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So why do ‘men’ throw away the instructions at home? Probably a defiance against the corporation, a feeling of being macho and this attitude saying that ‘I don’t need instructions to operate a television.’ But safety legislation doesn’t really apply in domestic situations, apart from the duty of the manufacturer who has to provide the instructions under the indicated regulations.

Commercial settings

In a commercial setting, there are many reasons to follow manufacturer’s instructions. As employers, we have a duty to protect anyone who can be affected by our work activities and therefore following manufacturer’s instructions can allow us to comply with safety legislation. It can be used against the defendant where an accident occurs that they didn’t use manufacturer’s guidance and instructions. So it is extremely important to read through the information provided.

For example

I was visiting a client recently and we looked at a piece of machinery. There was a potential vibration issue that I needed to check and therefore wanted to know the full potential hazard that this posed. I asked the client if they had the machine instructions available and was pleased when they returned with them in hand.

After reading, the specification section indicated a high vibration magnitude associated to the operation of this equipment, we then input the figure into the HSE’s vibration calculator and it informed us that the equipment should not be used for more than about 15 minutes for one person per day. The client informed me that they actually use it for about 1 to 2 hours per day per person.

This meant the client now has to manage the vibration hazard to their employees to prevent issues developing in the future. Since then they have indicated that they are starting routine health surveillance for their employees and reducing the time that employees operate this particular machine on a daily basis.

Manufacturer instructions provide us with technical information that can help form a risk assessment, that will then allow us to develop suitable controls and wear protective equipment to protect us against the hazards associated to a machine or equipment.

Simply by reading the instructions and information provided by the manufacturer has potentially saved this company thousands of pounds of prosecution and compensation fines as well as the underlying costs of someone being off work, investigating incidents, re-investment in equipment etc.

We offer health and safety outsourcing and our health and safety consultants offer support services including health and safety audits and advice delivered by experts. For more information regarding health and safety at work or HR Services contact us.Save

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