Category 3 safety level requirements are often misunderstood

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Many Australian companies are now requiring new equipment and machinery to meet Cat 3 safety requirements.

The most widely known procedure of AS4024.1-2006 is that it requires the calculation of the safety category level (safety system architecture) required by the safety control system and how this is to be determined. These are typically referred to in abbreviated form along the lines of “safety control system to be Cat 3” etc.

However in simplified terms AS4024.1-2006 requires much more than just the safety category rating, it defines a procedure to follow to progress through all phases of the machine’s life cycle (from the start of the design phase through all phases of use finishing with the final decommissioning of the machine) to ensure potential hazards are suitably controlled, this includes validation plans and results. All of these requirements are required to be documented to suitable level to be able to demonstrate due process has been followed.

Unfortunately some end-users have neither the knowledge, understanding or resources to be able to determine whether or not a machine they are intending to buy (or have already) bought is made to Cat 3 let alone has been built to meet AS4024.1-2006. Gaining a good understanding of AS4024.1-2006 and therefore Cat 3 can involve a significant commitment of time and money (to those without a prior understanding of the requirements of AS4024), and probably cannot be gained without personal instruction and training from a qualified specialist.

Anyone considering the purchase of any equipment (for example with a Cat  3 safety system requirement) should review if they truly understand what is required and if not then consider engaging a qualified specialist to assist them in reviewing the required documentation before committing to a purchase.

Typically (as a brief overview) the information that a supplier should be able to provide when requested should at least include the following documentation:

  • a comprehensive Hazard & Risk Assessment (conducted as if there were no guards at all on the machine)
  • an explanation of the proposed solution
  • foreseeable use and misuse
  • a list of all safety-related parts to be used
  • wiring and circuit diagrams
  • how the proposed safety solution will provide acceptable risk control for all hazards
  • what residual hazards (if any) will remain and what steps the end-user should take to isolate them
  • a sample Operation Manual
  • service and maintenance requirements

The usual process is that the supplier’s proposal is reviewed and accepted by the customer before placing the order, to ensure the equipment will fully comply with the standards (including site-specific requirements).

Once the machine has been delivered it should be inspected and tested in a formal manner as a verification step to ensure that every safety function works exactly as intended, and that there are no loopholes or ways that a safety function can be bypassed.

Finally, there should be documented evidence that the machine has been verified and by an independent, qualified person, to ensure that the machine complies in every way to the required standards.

In summary: Fully compliant AS4024.1 2006 – Category 3 and 4 requirements can be complex and expensive; there are no short-cuts. Don’t just take a supplier’s word that their machine complies, and don’t assume that you are qualified to accept it unless you’re confident that you have a good understanding of all the requirements of AS4024.1 2006. There are suitably qualified persons available to assist; it is strongly advisable to make use of their services to avoid costly litigation if the worst happens and someone is injured.

Submitted by Sitecraft Materials Handling Equipment, the home of the world’s best bin-tipping solutions. Dumpmasater wheelie bin tippers can be supplied as fully Cat 3 or Cat 4 compliant. Please contact our sales team on 1300 363 152 for more information on these options. Go www.sitecraft.com.au to see our complete range of materials handling solutions.

Disclaimer: This article is intended as a conceptual overview only and is not intended nor should it be considered to be an accurate summary of the requirements of AS4024.1 – 2006. This report does not replace any statutory requirements under any state or territory legislation.

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