Andy Worsick

Company and address

Sandusky Walmsley Ltd., Crompton Way, Bolton, Lancashire, BL1 8UL, England



safety, legislation, paper & board machines


Paper mills, and paper machines in particular, can be inherently dangerous, with many rotating parts and in-going nips.

A poor safety record in recent years has resulted in the UK paper industry being targeted for improvement.

The approach has been a multi-party one, with input from paper mills, government agencies, the unions, the Paper Federation and machinery designers.

The paper examines some of the recent legislation and initiatives that have been employed in Europe and the UK, in an attempt to rectify the current unacceptable levels of accidents.

These include guidelines to provide safe operation of existing machinery, as well as changes to the design philosophy when providing new equipment.

Systems designed to ensure safety during equipment installation, particularly during major shut downs, are also examined.

With care, however, and the right approach to safety, paper machines can be installed, maintained and operated in a safe manner.


Paper mills, and paper machines in particular, can be inherently dangerous, with many rotating parts and in-going nips.

A poor safety record in recent years has resulted in the United Kingdom's paper industry being targeted for improvement, and in recent years great efforts have been made to improve its safety record.

The issue of safety also continues to be of great importance to the South African paper industry. The purpose of this paper is to outline some of the work that has been done in the UK, with the belief that sharing this information will be of benefit to others, and will assist with achieving the goals to which we all strive.

Whilst the author's involvement in this area has predominantly been from the view point of a papermaking machinery supplier, the views and roles of other parties such as the Paper Federation of Great Britain, individual paper mills, paper mill unions, and the UK Health are Safety Executive are also discussed.


The performance of the UK paper industry, especially when compared with similar industries has historically been very poor.

In addition to the human cost of accidents, the cost to business is considerable, whether this is in terms of covering the job function of an absent employee, payment of medical bills, rising insurance costs, or the result of legal actions or litigation.

It was apparent that the situation had to be addressed, and in a number of different areas. The hazards associated with installation work, normal operation and routine maintenance are varied, as are the people involved in these tasks, who can range from mill employees - both production and engineering - to outside contractors brought in for a particular task. The safety of all mill employees, as well as other visitors to side and even the general public must also be considered.


When reviewing current safety performance, the "Risk-Gap" triangle (Fig. 1) can be used as a model. Each mill must try to identify the standard currently achieved, which initially may be close to the "Unacceptable Risk" level, and then work towards the Benchmark, which is set close to the "Negligible Risk" point.

Figure 1
Figure 1


The UK paper industry is subject to a number of pieces of general legislation that apply across industries - both national legislation, and that which is enforced as part of the UK's membership of the European Union.

These include:

  • Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
  • The European Six-Pack 1992
    Management of Health & Safety At Work Regulations
    Workplace Health, Safety & Welfare Regulations
    Health & Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations
    Work Equipment Regulations
    Manual Handling Regulations
    Personal Protective Equipment Regulations
  • Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 1994
  • Lifting Operations & Lifting Equipment (LOLER) Regulations 1998
  • Provision & Use of Workplace Equipment (PUWER) Regulations 1998
  • Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 1996

It is not the intention of this paper to review all of these pieces of legislation, and others that exist, in detail, although all are available for further reading and background information.
One piece of legislation that has, however, particularly changed the way things are done in the paper industry is the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1996. These regulations are aimed at improving construction site safety across many industries, but are often applicable to a paper mill rebuild or installation shut. Specific duties are defined for the Client, the Principal Contractor, the Planning Supervisor and the Designer. The regulations apply from the pre-planning stage, when the Planning Supervisor must produce a pre-tender health and safety plan. This will include information about the site where construction work will take place supplied by the Client. Following this, the Principal Contractor must produce a detailed construction-phase health and safety plan, including method statements, checks on competence of contractors, and reference to applicable procedures and systems of work. At the end of the project, a Health and Safety file is prepared for future reference, and includes copies of all as-built drawings.


In addition to more general legislation, a number of paper industry specific initiatives have been implemented.

Paper & Board Industry Advisory Committee (PABIAC)
This body issues guidance to the paper and board industry on safety related issues. Its membership is drawn from a number of interested parties, including: -

  • The Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
  • The Paper Federation of Great Britain
  • Paper and Board Mills
  • Paper Mill Unions

Making Paper Safely
This document, prepared by PABIAC in consultation with the HSE, gives guidance for users of papermaking machinery, to help them carry out risk assessments, compare what they have now with the control measures recommended, and to help them decide what more they need to do. It replaces the long-standing "Safety in Paper Mills" document (more commonly known as the "Fourth Report"), and aims to fill the knowledge gap which partly contributes to the poor accident performance of the UK paper industry.

In particular, the guidance seeks to: -

  • Eliminate "lift-off" guards
  • Prevent intervention on moving machinery
  • Promote automatic cleaning, tail feeding and broke removal systems
  • Give guidelines for safe access to plant
  • Encourage safety related control systems

The extent of guarding on the dryer section of a UK paper mill is shown in Figure 2, and that on a recently supplied Sandusky reel in Figure 3.

Figure 2

Figure 3

Following the guidance is not compulsory, and mills are free to take other action. However, mills that do follow the guidance will normally be doing enough to comply with the law. Health and Safety Inspectors seek to secure compliance with the law, and may refer to the Making Paper Safely guidance as illustrating good practice.

The guidance has been phased in over recent years, with individual mills producing a Mill Safety Action Plan, with agreed target implementation dates. In many cases, these have now been achieved.

Tail Feeding Seminars
The Paper Federation of Great Britain organised two regional tail feeding seminars following the introduction of the Making Paper Safely document in 2001. Each was attended by over 80 paper mill representatives, who had the opportunity to listen to presentations by rope system suppliers, vacuum belt system suppliers and papermaking machinery manufacturers. A round table discussion on some of the issues involved was followed by a number of presentations, where individual mills shared some of their successes, as well as highlighting areas of ongoing concern.

Making Paper Safely Seminar
In October 2001, the Papex exhibition was held in Manchester. This is the UK equivalent of APPW / TAPPSA, and provided the opportunity to gather together a number of the parties involved in Making Paper Safely. The different views and perspectives of the Health & Safety Executive, The Paper Federation of Great Britain, The Graphical, Paper and Media Union, as well as a paper mill and a papermaking machinery supplier were all presented.

Paper Federation of Great Britain
The Paper Federation, the trade association for UK paper mills, plays a key role in improving safety performance for its members. One recent development has been the running of a Chief Executive Safety Day on an annual basis. All paper mill Chief Executives are strongly encouraged to attend, and to demonstrate their commitment to health and safety within their organisations.

The Federation also plays a key role in liasing between mills and suppliers, assisting with training, and promoting communication between its members and outside bodies. They have also introduced the "Contractor Safety Passport", which is a common requirement for contractors working in all paper mills. The course, run by the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board, has been adopted by many process industries, and consists of a two day training course, with the requirement for a refresher day after three years. Details of the ten course modules are shown in Figure 4.

10 modules
Health and Safety law, work permits
Safe working practices
Safe access and egress
Accident and first aid procedures
Fire precautions and procedures
Control of Substances Hazardous to Health annd Personal Protective Equipment
Manual handling
Working with cranes and heavy equipment

Figure 4


Although the approach to this issue varies from mill to mill, the commitment of senior management to improved health and safety performance is a crucial factor. Dedicated resources must be made available, and often a major culture change within the organisation is required. However, with the right attitude, provision of training as necessary, and a logical approach to problem solving (often involving the machine crews and operators), the situation has been significantly improved. Solutions must be implemented, modified if necessary, and then constantly reviewed.

Papermaking machinery manufacturers also have a role to play. When designing new equipment or a rebuild of existing equipment, we go through a detailed hazard identification process. This must consider all modes of use - construction and installation, operation, roll or clothing change, maintenance and cleaning. A risk assessment hierarchy is then applied, which in order of preference are: -

  • Design out the hazard
  • Guard the hazard
  • Provide training and a Safe System of Work


The approach detailed above has already made a significant impact on reducing major incidents in the UK paper industry. Some mills are doing particularly well, whereas there has been a lack of progress in others. Success is dependent on a number of factors, but particularly: -

  • Commitment and action from the top
  • Empowerment of line management
  • Involvement of all

Partnership, help and advice is readily available, as is demonstrated by the initiatives detailed above. However, pressure is also brought to bear when necessary, and when it is felt that a mill is not making sufficient progress.


Whilst improvements have been made, the accident rates of the industry are still not satisfactory - zero accidents is the standard that should be targeted - and the work to date should be seen as just the beginning. Improving health and safety is an ongoing issue, and no-one can afford to be complacent.

Twenty five percent of all workplace incidents are slips, trips and falls. The Paper Federations current campaign - "Going Bananas" - backed by the Health & Safety Executive, aims to address this area.

Further Safety Workshops for mill employees and safety representatives are being organised, and great efforts are being made to share both successes and problems.


The above points will hopefully provide an overview of the work that has been done in the UK, and will enable others to gain from these experiences. A large amount of additional information is available, and in particular the following web-sites may well provide a good starting point for further research:
Training, the "Virtual Mill", HSE "Sector Information Minutes", PABIAC Bulletins
General Guidance, Updates, Publications, Legislation


The author would like to acknowledge the assistance and encouragement given by the following individuals: -
Mike Wilcock - Health & Safety Executive
Bud Huspith - Graphical, Paper & Media Union
Les Patterson - Iggesund Paperboard
Tim Watts - Paper Federation of Great Britain


Andy Worsick graduated from the Paper Science Department at UMIST, Manchester in 1989, with a Bachelor of Science Degree.
On completion of his studies, he joined Beloit Walmsley Limited in Bolton, England.
Six years with Beloit were followed by a spell at Simon Holder Ltd before returning to Sandusky Walmsley (as the company is now known), where he currently holds the position of Sales and Applications Manager.
Andy has worked on the design and specification of many different machines, and has travelled extensively to mills around the world. His current responsibilities include the South African market, where he is a regular visitor.
In addition to presenting this paper at APPW 2002, he has previously presented a paper at the 1994 TAPPSA Conference, as well as at other events in the UK and Europe.


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