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Work equipment includes all the machines, appliances, tools and installations used in the workplace. In short, everything that enables work to be carried out.
Title 2 of book IV of the Code on well-being at work contains general provisions on the use of all work equipment. Reference is made to the explanations on the website (see below). In addition to these general rules, specific provisions apply to mobile work equipment, work equipment for lifting loads and work equipment for temporary work at height.
Use of work equipment means every activity relating to work equipment, including putting it into or out of service, use, transport, repair, conversion, maintenance and servicing (including cleaning).
Rules concerning the inspection of work equipment
The employer shall ensure that work equipment, the safety of which depends on the conditions of installation, is subject to an initial inspection, after installation and before being put into service, and after each installation on a new site or in a new location, to ensure that the work equipment is correctly installed and functions properly.
The employer shall ensure that work equipment, subject to influences that cause deterioration and are likely to lead to dangerous situations, is subject to:
- periodic inspections and, where appropriate, periodic tests;
- exceptional inspections whenever exceptional events likely to have had harmful consequences for the safety of the work equipment have occurred, such as alterations, accidents, natural phenomena, or prolonged periods of non-use.
The purpose of these inspections is to ensure that the safety and health requirements are complied with and that such deterioration is detected and remedied in good time.
The results of these inspections must be recorded and made available to the well-being inspection. They shall be kept for an appropriate period.
If the work equipment concerned is used outside the company, it must be accompanied by material proof that the last inspection was carried out.
In principle, the inspections are carried out by competent persons from within or outside the company or establishment.
The employer generally determines the frequency and appoints the competent person for the inspection.
However, for certain work equipment, the legislation specifies the periodicity and imposes an examination by an external service for technical inspection authorised by the FPS Employment, Labour and Social Dialogue.
Account may be taken of organisational structures abroad that are equivalent to Belgian structures. A foreign employer must therefore call on an ESTI authorised in Belgium unless he can demonstrate that he can call on an equivalent service that meets the same conditions as the Belgian one and that can ensure that he complies with Belgian legal obligations.
The equipment for which an examination by an ESTI is required is the following:
a) Lifting equipment (Article 267 of the General Labour Protection Rules)
The following are considered as lifting devices:
All lifts, goods lifts, industrial lifts, construction lifts and material lifts, and any other lifting device intended for the transport of persons or designed to move or move loads over or near places which may be occupied by persons.
Before commissioning (Article 280 of the General Labour Protection Rules)
The employer is obliged to have the equipment examined and tested by an external service for technical inspection authorised for the inspection of lifting equipment.
This inspection must take place before the equipment is put into service and after any transformation of the equipment that is likely to change its characteristics from the point of view of safety in use.
The equipment may not be put into service until the authorised body has produced a report attesting to the maximum authorised load, indicating the date and result of the tests and checks and establishing that the equipment can operate safely. This report shall be given to the user of the equipment, who shall keep it at the disposal of the inspectorate for the supervision of well-being at work.
Periodical inspections (Article 281 of the General Labour Protection Rules)
This equipment shall undergo a full detailed inspection at least every twelve months by an external service for technical inspection authorised for the inspection of lifting equipment. This inspection includes, in particular, the inspection of the frame, the mechanisms and various accessories, the running tracks and, in general, all the parts that are accessible without prior dismantling.
Cables, chains, hooks, rods, pulleys, lifting beams, brakes, travel limiters and any other components of interest from a safety point of view must be inspected at least every three months by an ESTI.
When these parts are part of machines which are used exclusively for the transport of goods and which are used only rarely, the frequency of these inspections may be reduced, on the advice of the authorised external service for technical inspection, in such a way that, in the interval between two consecutive inspections, these parts are not used for more than three months of regular use. The interval between two inspections may not, however, exceed twelve months. This paragraph shall not apply to lifting equipment used for the transport of goods accompanied by a conveyor.
If it considers it useful, the authorised external service for technical inspection shall have tests carried out on the cables and chains both before they are put into service and during service.
The authorised external service for technical inspection will draw up a detailed report of its findings and conclusions, indicating the date of the inspections. This report shall be given to the user of the equipment, who shall keep it available at all times for inspection by the Directorate General of Supervision of Well-being at Work.
If there are concrete indications that the safety regulations have not been complied with, the inspectorate may require the employer to have the inspections carried out again or to complete them by an accredited, authorised or equivalent inspection institution.
Inspection of lifting equipment from abroad
- The inspection of lifting equipment, to be carried out by authorised bodies, may also be carried out by persons under Belgian public law and by persons under foreign law authorised for this purpose by the Minister. (Article 281ter of the General Labour Protection Rules)
- The reports of the most recent commissioning or periodic inspection for a load lifting appliance presented by the employer, drawn up by an inspection institution in the country of origin of the appliance, are acceptable provided that they meet the following conditions (Article 281quater of the General Labour Protection Rules)
- the country of origin is a Member State of the European Economic Area;
- it concerns an appliance whose stay in Belgium does not exceed three months;
- the report is drawn up by an accredited, authorised or equivalent inspection institution;
- the report is written in one of the three national languages or is accompanied by a translation into one of the three national languages and concerns checks on the strength of the installation, on defects, on possible causes of danger and on compliance with the regulatory provisions concerning safety.
In this case, the employer only has to call on an external service for technical inspection at the workplace authorised in Belgium for an administrative verification of these inspection reports: the ESTI only checks whether the foreign inspection is authentic and whether it has been carried out in accordance with the necessary formal requirements.
Practical cases can be found on the website.
b) Steam machines
c) Centrifugal spinners (Article 323.1/2 of the General Labour Protection Rules)
The following inspections shall be carried out
- at least one inspection every twelve months, for centrifuges operating less than twelve hours per day by an authorised external service for technical inspection;
- at least one inspection every six months, for centrifuges operating twelve hours or more per day or processing corrosive materials.
The frequency of inspections is increased for equipment operating under particularly unfavourable conditions. It is determined by the external service for technical inspection.
Each inspection gives rise to a report by the external service for technical inspection, which must mention the origin, the manufacturing number of the centrifuge and the date of entry into service, as well as the observations made during the examination, the conclusions to be drawn and the reasons why certain parts were not inspected.
This report shall be given to the user of the equipment, who shall keep it available at all times for inspection by the occupational health and safety inspectorate.
d) Gas containers (Article 349 - 363bis of the General Labour Protection Rules)
e) Lifting bridges (Article 283bis of the General Labour Protection Rules)
More information on this website:
- Definition of work equipment under the theme The well-being of workers
- on the general obligations of the employer regarding work equipment under the theme The well-being of workers
- on Mobile work equipment under the theme The well-being of workers
- on Work equipment for lifting loads under the theme The well-being of workers
- on the inspection of the country of origin of the lifting equipment (Article 281quater of the General Labour Protection Rules) under the theme The well-being of workers
- on work equipment for temporary work at height
- on External services for technical inspections at the workplace (ESTI) under the theme The well-being of workers
- List of authorised ESTI in Belgium