Why should you think RS for Safety needs?

As the only distributor covering all essential areas of machine safety, electrical safety, personal safety (PPE) and site safety, RS stocks the broadest range of safety products and brands available.

Whatever measures you need, from personal protective equipment and machine guarding, to working at height or with electricity, we have the products and expert advice to help you, your teams and colleagues stay safe and productive.

Safety in all areas

Personal Safety
Machine Safety
Electrical Safety
Site Safety

Modifying Machinery - Are there hidden risks?

With margins under pressure and general economic uncertainty it can be a challenge for many SMEs across the manufacturing sector to justify or gain investment in new machinery.
Therefore many businesses rely on the proven principle of upgrading or refreshing existing machinery to both extend it’s working life, but also to enhance productivity.

We explore the potential risks if machinery or automated processes are modified without the appropriate re-assessment taking place

While the principle of upgrading existing machinery supports the sound business approach of ‘sweating your asset’, any business must ensure continued compliance with the Use of Work Equipment Directive 2009/104/EC. This directive has been implemented into local law and must be complied with.

The directive states that during the lifetime of machinery, employers must take measures to ensure that machinery is kept at a level such that it continues to comply with the provisions applicable at the time of its manufacture.
However, if substantial modifications are made by the user, then the machine must be considered new and subject to a conformity assessment to the Machinery Directive. This Directive applies to machinery when it is first placed on the market and is normally the responsibility of the manufacturer.
There are a number of reasons that a machines may be modified, such as: Changes in production requirements, integration with other machines, upgrading to “state of the art”, etc. It can be difficult to gauge what a “substantial” change is. Guidance can be found in a number of places such as European bodies and from the HSA.

The user should assess the extent of the changes by considering, among others things:
• Are there any significant new hazards and risks?
• Has technology significantly changed?
• Have the limits of the machine been changed (Increased line speed, changed product)?

An example of a considerable change is fitting computerised or PLC control to a previously manually operated machine since this could substantially alter the way the original machine works. This would require a full and proper assessment. On the other hand a non-substantial change could be replacing a simple limit switch with a like for like device from another manufacture.
When a machine is large and complex it can sometimes be that the part modified does not affect any other parts of the machines. If this is the case then only the parts and systems modified may have to be reassessed.
Changes in the safety strategy of a machine is always an important thing to consider. For example, if a fixed fence is replaced with an interlocked door, or a moveable guard is replaced with a safety light curtain, then these would probably require re-compliance with the Machinery Directive.
The same could apply if an existing assembly of machines is modified, for example adding, remove or replacing sections that impact the safety of the complete assembly. Further guidance for this can be found in the European Commission Guide to the Machinery Directive.

In general, refurbishment of machines such as changing motors, replacing light curtains or replacing safety parts with newer improved ones (e.g. replacing a single channel magnetic coded switches with PLe/SIL3 RFID Transponder) does not amount to a substantial change. Also, adding safety which makes the machine safer than it was before but does not affect the operation or any other control system could warrant a different approach of only assessing the modification. However, compliance with PUWER98 must always be maintained.

Machine safety

Machines and processes can create significant hazards to personnel when in operation. The Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC suggests physical guarding should be the main approach to mitigating these hazards. However, gates, guards and shields can impede operators’ interaction with machines or production lines. By using electronic sensing and intelligent safety systems, machines can be made safe to operate, compliant with health and safety law and deliver optimum productivity.

We created Connected Thinking to provide valuable insight and procurement expertise to anyone involved in the sectors we support. Our content offers practical insight and information to help you or your organisation – check out some of the articles here.

Why having a safety strategy and collaborative suppliers is essential

Workplace accidents can be devastating to manufacturers, both in terms of the impact staff morale and wider commercial ramifications.

Read more

The importance of asset and workplace safety

Managing ageing assets is cited by many businesses as the 2nd biggest day to day challenge they face, and in this environment site or machinery safety can be sometimes be overlooked.

Read more

Electrical safety

Any engineer working on a piece of electrical equipment or supply circuit needs to ensure supplies are isolated and locked off in such a way to avoid risk of electrocution by accidental energisation. Equipment needs to be tested to ensure no risk to users, including testing circuits and machinery earthing, insulation, and to ensure all portable appliances are damage-free. And for any significant change in electrical supplies, the work must meet the latest wiring regulations.


When it comes to working on electrical installations, whether it’s maintenance of equipment or installing new machinery, implementing safe isolation procedures is essential to achieve compliance with the Electricity at Work Regulations and stay safe. There are around 1,000 serious accidents per year at work due to contact with electricity and 10 times as many involving electricity, many of which could be avoided by following simple procedures and using the right equipment to the latest standards. Average fines for noncompliance have tripled over the last two years.

Guidance requires operators to work dead whenever possible and achieve this by following a clearly defined procedure which involves isolating the source of supply, locking off the supply and proving dead before any maintenance work is carried out.

Ensuring the right tools are available for the job might seem like common sense, but it’s still an issue among some maintenance teams, who may be potentially putting their lives and those of their colleagues at risk. For example using a multimeter to prove a circuit is dead is not permissible as it could easily give a misleading reading if set to the wrong range or if the batteries need replacing. A dedicated voltage indicator with no ranges, switches or batteries is by far the most reliable method for proving dead. Having the right locking off device to hand for all types of common circuit breakers or fuse holders is a must.



Complete safe isolation kit for all installations
The new LOKKITPRO kit enables safe isolation procedures
to be carried out on a wide range of distribution boards in all types of facilities

Many contractors are now turning to complete safe isolation kits which include all the necessary equipment to safely lock off the circuit being worked on and prove dead. The latest kits now include matching voltage indicators and proving units and contain a complete range of locking off devices and hazard warning labels for all types of site and installation. The kits keep everything to hand and simplify any compliance issues with the latest test equipment standards.

To simplify the whole process, Martindale Electric has put together two new safe isolation kits fully compliant with the latest edition of GS38 in handy combination carry cases. The most comprehensive solution for safe isolation available, the new kits contain the industry standard VI Series voltage indicators, matching proving device and the new 13 piece LOKKITPRO. The new LOKKITPRO kit enables safe isolation procedures to be carried out on a wide range of distribution boards in all types of facilities. The kit includes the complete range of Martindale locking off devices for MCBs, red spot type fuse holders and more challenging installations requiring cable locks.

voltage indicator

Proving the voltage indicator before and after use

LOK6 Universal Fuse carrier

Martindale LOK6 Universal Fuse carrier Lock Off inlcude d in the LOKKITPRO

Personal safety

Personal protective equipment (PPE) will protect you against health or safety risks and includes items such as safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses. It also includes respiratory protective equipment (RPE). Making the workplace safe means providing instructions, procedures, training and supervision to encourage people to work safely and responsibly.

Site safety

Most slips occur when floors become wet or contaminated, and many trips are due to poor housekeeping. Slips and trips are the most common cause of injury at work. On average, they account for over a third of all major injuries and can lead to other types of accidents, such as falls from height or falls into machinery. It can be avoided by putting the correct signage in place, barriers where required, spill kits at the ready or even having the first aid kit correctly displayed.

Browse our guides

Workplace safety is an expansive subject with lots of different legislation, legal requirements, standards and best practice. We've created four simple guides to help advise and inform you on the stuff you need to know.

Our guide to Machinery Safety

Learn more about machine safety, your legal requirements and the standards that apply.

Read about it

Electrical Safety in the workplace explained

Our guide gives you useful insight on how to work with electricity safely and meet the latest electrical standards.

Read about it

What you need to know about Personal Protective Equipment

Most industrial environments need some element of personal protective or safety equipment, out guide gives you the low down.

Read about it

Learn more about site safety in industrial workplaces

From first kits to signage and spill control keeping your workplace safe is vital and our guide can help.

Read about it

Key brands

We partner with leading manufacturers to bring you the latest and best products to help you stay safe in the workplace.