The HSE guidance on conducting Examination during COVID-19 now includes advice on all classes of plant where examination may be required including what to do if an examination cannot be completed within the required time frame.
The legal obligation to ensure plant and equipment is maintained and thoroughly examined in accordance with relevant regulations remains in place and there have been no exceptions to work place safety regulations granted. The HSE recognise that examination by a competent person is essential to the continued safety of persons. The enforcing authority expect duty holders (those who have control of the equipment) to make all reasonable effort to ensure examinations are completed at the correct time. The duty holder is expected to work with and co-operate with their inspection body by providing safe working arrangements which satisfy both parties’ needs, for example safe and suitable access and emergency procedures.
Advice on safe systems of working during the COVID-19 pandemic for a number of industries can be found on GOV.UK.
The HSE recognise there may be circumstances where some duty holders will find it difficult or impossible to conduct the required examination due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and have included guidance within their document advising what the duty holders should do in those circumstances.
The primary and overriding statutory obligation is that the equipment must remain safe. The advice is to remove the item from service until the necessary examination can be safely conducted. If removing the equipment from use is not feasible then additional measures should be identified to minimise any potential risk from continued use. This may be achieved by applying a robust risk based approach to the decision making.
The HSE have clarified that conducting examination prior to re-opening would not be considered normal business activity in respect of using furloughed staff.
If duty holders conclude that the equipment can be used outside of its testing period, they must document:
- the efforts that have been made to get the plant examined
- their decision making process
- the factors considered to justify their decision.
The exact scope of the risk assessment will depend on the circumstances and the HSE have provided guidance on what as a minimum should be considered within the risk assessment.
More information can be found in the latest HSE guidance document and our useful guide.