Safety in Engineering Workshops
Engineering workshops are common in small and medium-sized businesses across the country. The machines in such workshops perform a large range of tasks. These include welding, sawing, guillotining, grinding, drilling, painting, radiography and bending.
Engineering workshops are therefore potentially hazardous environments. An organised approach to health and safety is critical.
The LawThe law sets out a range of requirements:
- Create a written health and safety policy for an engineering workshop with five or more staff
- Keep this policy updated
- Produce a Risk Assessment
- Make the local HSE (Health and Safety Executive) inspector aware that the premises are an engineering workshop
- Display a current employers’ liability insurance certificate if there are employees
- Display a Health and Safety Law poster or give staff a Health and Safety Law leaflet
- Notify the authorities of certain injuries, events and occupational diseases
- Make staff aware of anything that may affect health and safety
- Make staff aware of any health and safety information and training
HSE Inspectors enforce the law. They may arrive at an engineering workshop without prior notice. Inspectors may wish to inspect health and safety arrangements or investigate accidents.
AccidentsAccidents sometimes happen no matter what health and safety measures are in place. Managers or supervisors must Record and Report Accidents and learn from them.
An emergency plan can help deal with accidents. A plan can be invaluable when there may be a need to rescue staff, coordinate emergency services, and when there are risks to the public.
A plan should take the form of a series of emergency procedures:
- Assess what might occur
- Decide who should raise the alarm and how
- Work out what to do in an emergency, and draw up a plan that helps the emergency services locate premises and understand the layout
- Establish places of safety in the event of an accident
- Arrange for any necessary rescue equipment and emergency lighting
- Create sufficient emergency exits
- Mark the exits clearly and ensure they remain free of obstructions
- Ensure staff know who is in control during an emergency
- Arrange for some members of staff to have first aid skills
- Label all switches and valves that shut down a workshop
- Ensure staff are fully aware of the emergency plan procedures
- Take into account the needs of staff who may have disabilities
SubstancesThere may be a variety of potentially Hazardous Substances within an engineering workshop. If so, it may be wise to take HSE advice on the full requirements of health and safety law and good practice.
Risk AssessmentTo avoid accidents in the first place, the managers and supervisors of engineering workshops must conduct risk assessments.
There are a number of basic steps that act as a guide to the risk assessment process:
1. Decide where the risks lie in the workshop
2. Work out who is at risk of harm and in what way
3. Assess the risks and compare these to the precautions that currently exist: are these suitable or not?
4. Make a written record of all findings if the workshop has five or more staff
5. Conduct regular reviews of the risk assessment and change it if necessary