Sum up of the ETUI workshop on machinery feedback method

The workshop held at Colle Val d’Elsa (Italy), October 11th and 12th, 2016, organized by ETUI, the European Trade Union Institute, was divided in two parts: on the first day, a workshop limited to the Trade Unions network in the field of machinery standardization and some invited persons (EU market surveillance authorities in the machinery field, several experts, including a FEES representative, Pascal ETIENNE). About 30 persons attended this part of the meeting.

During the whole second day, the meeting was open to the Italian authorities and to locally interested experts in the field of OSH (mainly from the Tuscany region) - about 100 persons were present.

On the first day was presented and discussed a sum up of the ‘fedback method’ as specified in the TR 16710-1 : 2005 – Part 1.

Fabio Stambi reminded that the project on the ‘feedback method’ started with a TUTB project in 1997: the aim was to collect user experience to improve the woodworking machine safety. The work on the floor was made by the Italian Preventive Service, USL 7 and Sindnova, an Italian Trade-Unions Institute. The project has been enhanced by the mandate 301 from the EU Commission to the CEN concerning the standards in the field of the revised machinery Directive: in the EU Commission document was mentioned he aim to obtain a real feedback coming from the end users. So ETUI was asked to provide a technical report. The outcome of the process is the CEN document (a ‘technical report’): TR 1610-1, adopted in December 2015.

The plan of the report is as follows:

  • Choice of the machinery
  • Data collection: accidents, market, standards, …
  • Choice of SME where the machine is used :
    • collaboration of the employers and workers
    • field investigation in the SMEs
    • selection of skilled machine users
  • Preparation of the working groups
    • Working groups meetings (workers + ergonomists)
    • Preparation of materials
  • Final report: ergonomics and prevention solution
  • Technical report

The debate during the workshop was on several issues, such as:

  • The status of the document: a Technical report (‘TR’), which does not allow the free access and which is on several issues related to the machinery directive. A guide could be a better solution to allow a free access.
  • There was also a debate on the issue ‘Human factors and ergonomics’, in particular the question was: which name is the more appropriate to provide possibilities of action on the machines design in line with the OSH requirements : between ‘Ergonomics’ and ‘Human factors’, which name / concept allows at the best to trigger actions with a wide scope?

The EU Commission informed that a public consultation on the revision of the machinery directive was in progress on the EU commission site till the 16th December 20106.

A draft declaration was discussed, the content of which being published and presented during the next Machinery Directive working group, in November in Brussels.

New issues appeared in the machinery field, in particular: the design and use of robots related to safety, which is discussed in many places : workshops and forums.

On the second day morning, several general declarations was presented on the issue ‘workers participation in the machine design’, including the one presented by FEES on the of ergonomic principles; a presentation of the feedback method by Fabio Strambi; a presentation from Georg Krämer (former chair of the TC 122) on the ergonomic Essential Safety Requirements and the concerned standards in the CEN and ISO field; a trade-unionist (from the European Federation of the construction workers) presented the results of an inquiry documented with 200 accidents. The report has been followed by a project aiming to improve ergonomics, safety, the work organization and training, based on field studies related with the feedback method.

A presentation of the next IEA 2018 Congress in Florence was made by a representative of the Italian Ergonomics Society, who stressed the preparation as a process with the help from different ergonomic societies through Europe.

In the afternoon, 10 examples of the feedback method implementation in the Tuscany region were presented by several experts coming from the USL Tuscany in the field of OSH. The examples presented dealt with the following machines and / or work situations: 1 Wood working machines (circular saws and moulding machines) ; 2 Angle grinders for cutting marble ; 3 Forklift trucks ; 4 Telehandlers ; 5 Agricultural machines (combine harvester, agricultural tractors, tracted harvesters for grapes harvesting). Two other examples of the implementation of the method were presented, not dealing with machines: on manual handling in building sites and assembly of metal scaffoldings.

A lot of debates and projects may follow this interesting event: on the design of machines, on the methodologies to foster the workers participation, on new issues for the designers and workers, such as robots... Initiatives taken by both bodies (FEES and ETUI) will follow.