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Why are engineering inspections important?

At a glance

  • Engineering inspections are vital to ensure the safety of plant, machinery and the people using it
  • Regular inspections of certain items of equipment are also required under health and safety law
  • However, brokers and customers often underestimate the time it takes to create an engineering inspection programme

Businesses have a duty to ensure that every item of equipment they are responsible for is in good condition – for the safety of employees, customers and members of the public.

However, there are also specific statutory requirements for certain pieces of equipment, which often include an obligation to inspect them at defined intervals.

Zurich is one of the UK’s leading providers of engineering inspections – inspecting more than four million items of equipment each year. Here, we explain why engineering inspections are so important, and discuss how brokers and customers can get the best possible service.

Engineering inspections – the nuts and bolts

Engineering inspections are essential for owners and duty holders to help ensure the safety of machinery, systems and those persons who interact with them, whether in an industrial, agricultural, construction, commercial, retail or even domestic environment.

Items requiring inspection range from lifting equipment, such as lifts, cranes, fork lift trucks and lifting appliances, to pressure systems, for example heating boilers, coffee boilers, and air receivers, and other items such as extraction systems, power presses and electrical installations and equipment.

Are regular engineering inspections necessary?

First and foremost, many inspections are mandatory in order to comply with health and safety legislation. For example, LOLER (Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations) stipulate  inspections usually as frequently as every six or 12 months.

“Around 99% of our inspections are statutory. They are the MOT for plant and machinery,” says Jason Knowles, Head of Engineering Development, Zurich Engineering.

Inspections can also help to reduce the risk of deaths and injuries. Jason adds: “Every year, we find around 350,000 defects in the items we inspect in the UK. Around 25,000 of those defects are serious – that’s 25,000 defects that could have presented a risk to people.”

The impact of Fee for Intervention

If serious defects are brought to the attention of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), organisations run the risk of costly fines. In addition, under the HSE’s Fee for Intervention (FFI) cost recovery scheme, any organisation found to be in material breach of health and safety law will be asked to pay for the time spent investigating the breach and taking enforcement action. FFI is charged on an hourly rate, which in April 2019, increased from £129 to £154.

“FFI can be a huge burden for clients. It’s a big concern,” says Jason.

‘Speak to us as early as possible’

Engineering inspections are crucial from a legal, safety and a financial perspective.

However, Jason says there is often a lack of understanding about how much time it takes to create an engineering inspection programme.

He says: “We can turn around insurance quotes quickly and go on cover accordingly, but with engineering inspections there are a number of additional steps we have to go through before we can put a customer on cover.

“We need to build a detailed understanding of the customer’s business and what their requirements are. We also physically have to get somebody on site – that often requires security clearance, risk assessments and so on.

“Sometimes customers will want us to mobilise a large inspection programme with one- or two-weeks’ notice, but realistically it takes at least six to eight weeks to meet those expectations.

“Our message to brokers is, in order to give your customers the best possible service, make sure you understand what their requirements are and speak to us as early as possible.”

Why choose Zurich for engineering inspections?

“Our USPs are the breadth of our coverage, and our technical expertise, including our in-house consultancy and laboratory  services at our technical centre in Wolverhampton,” says Jason. “We’ve been doing safety inspections for more than 100 years.”

Zurich has 575 surveyors operating across the United Kingdom – and is recruiting more. It always takes a responsible approach to new business.

“We will only write business we are 100% sure we can service,” says Jason. “Our reputation for service excellence far outweighs our desire to grow.”

To find out more engineering inspections for plant and machinery operators, read the Zurich Plant Guide.

Image © Getty

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