Insurance Considerations For 3D Printers

Safety Cabinet

As 3D printers become more common across the UK, business owners are understandably excited to focus on the benefits this new technology can deliver. However, they also need tobe aware that using 3D printers brings with it several health and safety risks that, in worst case scenarios, could potentially lead to lawsuits, andthe only way for businesses to protect themselves against these risks is to:

- ensure they have appropriate safety controls in place to safeguard employees in case an accident occurs, and

- ensure they have adequate health insurance in place.

When in operation, as well as posing a burn risk because of the heat generated, 3D printers can also create harmful emissions which have the potential to endanger users and negatively impact surrounding air quality which, in turn, can also endanger their colleagues and any visitors. As a result, businesses operating 3D printers need to have comprehensive health insurancein place in case any of their staff become ill as a result of inhaling the emissions or accidentally injure themselves when using the equipment.

The good news is that existing health insurance policies will generally cover business owners should 3D printing cause any injury or illness to any of their employees. The bad news is that responsibility for ensuring this is the case in their business stops with them alone.

Because 3D printing is still a developing industry, business ownersalso need to be aware that new regulations are continuing to appearand each one has the potential to alter the insurance landscape.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), for example, recently investigated the risks of using FFF/FDM style desktop 3D printers and found that the printers can create harmful emissions which ‘are likely to be released into the general environment because many desktop printers have no form of control or particle capture.’ As a result, the HSE recommends that desktop 3D printers should be placed inside enclosing hoods with filtered ventilation, which have been proven to reduce particle emission by as much as 97%.

Businesses that fail to adhere to this new guidance could find themselves in contravention of Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER), Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) guidelines and the HSE’s ‘Management of Health and Safety at Work’ code of practice. This highlights the need forbusiness owners to keep abreast of new regulations and periodically check in with their insurer to ensure they have the most up-to-date cover for any health and safety eventualities.

Insurers want to see that business owners are doing everything possible to keep their employees safe from harm, so, for any business using 3D printers, investing in safety cabinets that reduce their particle emissions – such as our HSE-tested SC-01 - is a great place to start.