GERMANY: handling of machine safety devices in question

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Approximately 10,000 occupational injuries per year, some of them fatal, are said to be caused by the manipulation of protective devices on machines – mostly tolerated by company management. This is shown by a survey of the Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (IFA) of the German statutory accident insurance, which was carried out between the end of 2019 and the summer of 2022 among 840 occupational safety specialists in companies.

“More than a quarter of all machines are handled, sometimes even permanently”, explains Stefan Otto, a machine safety expert at the IFA. The survey also shows a statistically significant link between management’s tolerance of frequent handling and the resulting accidents. Two-thirds of those surveyed consider a clear commitment from management against tampering to be a particularly effective way of preventing accidents. This also includes ensuring that machines are purchased with little incentive to tamper.

For Stefan Otto, “as long as it is not possible to bring user-friendly, manipulation-proof protective devices to all workplaces, superiors are the best protection in this respect”.

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