R13 Health and safety

Posted: October 10, 2010 in Resistant Materials

Health and safety is of course vital in the workshop not only now but even more so next year when I will be teaching in class.  I have used some of the machinery in the workshop  before and so I have been shown in the past the safe practice as well as in our induction weeks.  I like to think I conduct myself carefully and responsibly when using various machinery and tools but of course appreciate that next year when faced with a class full of students it will be hard but paramount to maintain a high level of vigilance as regards health and safety at all time.  I will use this section to detail the machinery I have come into contact with and also the key BS4163 and CLEAPSS points.  It will also give me an indication of any machines I may need to familiarize myself with before next year if I have not had a chance to use them in any of my projects.

BS4163 (explanation from the website):

BS 4163 is the code of practice that provides guidance for people responsible for planning services, equipment and machinery, and for anyone who may use these in design and technology facilities in schools and similar establishments.

Design and technology facilities include all teaching areas and preparation areas where materials are manipulated and processed, equipment is used and design and/or manufacturing takes place (e.g. food, textiles, graphics, electronics, technology, craft, engineering, manufacturing and computer areas).

The recommendations cover supply and safe use of equipment, machine tools, materials and chemicals, personal protection, and safety management, with particular reference to the hazards involved.

Contents of BS 4163 include:

  • Health and safety management
  • Planning and services
  • Teaching areas, equipment, tools and processes
  • Materials
  • Terms and definitions, and references.

BS 4163:2007 replaces BS 4163:2000 which has now been withdrawn.

CLEAPSS: The exact definition of CLEAPSS is featured at http://www.cleapss.org.uk/about.htm


I used the strip heater to bend the acrylic for my plate rack, I found it fairly easy to use and managed to conduct my work with efficiency and ease with no accidents.  I would feel comfortable using at again and competent enough to show somebody else how to use it.

BS4163 main points for the strip heater:

Hazards:  The hot plastic and hot surfaces can cause burns.Inhalation of fumes.Unstable equipment or work pieces can cause injury.  There is also an electric shock hazard.

Risk control Measures:  Only use appropriate materials.  Simple heat output controllers should be provided.  Guarding provided if practical.  Ventilation provided if harmful fumes are released

Materials to use:
Thermoplastics such as acrylic.  The plastic sheet is heated along the hot wire so it can be folded at a controlled angle.

Gloves when touching the hot plastic and masks if any fumes are given off.

CLEAPSS Main points:
Hazards: Burns can occur as the wire gets extremely hot and the plastic can become hot enough to burn the skin.  There is an electrical hazard due to the bare wire heating element.

Risk assessment: The bare wire types use safety extra low voltage and the mains powered heaters are insulated.  The risk of burning from the hot wire is an obvious one so easy to avoid.

Common problems:
Overheating of the plastic causing it to bubble.  Keeping the plastic straight over the heated wire and bending it at the correct angles (especially with large pieces of plastic) can sometimes be awkward.  If fumes are released they may be odourless and go unnoticed so it is advisable to wear a mask.


I have used the band saw on a few occasions in the workshop for both cutting hard and softwood and the alternative plastic one.  I feel comfortable and in control on the machine but I am certainly aware of the dangers it posesses.

BS4163 Main points:

WARNING. : Students may only use sawing machines  including the band saw when they have been assessed and the assessment has shown that they are competent, and they are under the direct supervision of purposely trained staff.

Hazards :  Long hair, loose clothing, etc., can become entangled in moving parts.  The closing movements between parts can result in trapping.  The  forward motion of the saw (power hacksaw) arm can result in trapping or severe cuts.  The bar stock projecting from the vice can present a tripping hazard. Sawing machines can present a hazard of electric shock. Sharp edges on tools and work pieces can cause cuts.  Blunt or damaged blades can present a hazard.  Contact with cutting fluids, oil and grease can irritate the skin. Inadvertent starting of the machine can present a hazard. Lack of space around the machine can lead to the operator being pushed by passers-by. Slippery floor surfaces or loose items around the machine can cause slips that result in contact with moving parts.  Manual handling of the bar stock can present a hazard.

Suitable materials to use:
Depending on the thickness of the blade the band saw can be used to cut hard and softwoods, acrylic, nylon, foams and if the correct blade is applied thin metals.  It is a useful tool for cutting approximate straight lines quickly.

Safety goggles, push stick.

CLEAPSS Main points:
Hazards: Trapping, inadequate guards on band saws present an increased risk.  Fingers or materials can become trapped between belts and drive pulleys or between the blade and a fence or guard.  If material is not held securely then a ‘kickback’ can occur this can also be a result of missing teeth on the blade or the way the material is being cut although this is less likely on a band saw and more likely on the circular saw.  All pulleys, drive belts and saw blades present a high risk unless they are adequately guarded.

Risk Assesment:  The guard must be at the right height for the material at all times.  The band saw can create flying dust so extractors should be on and eye-protection worn at all times.  Contact with any of the moving or rotating parts can cause serious cuts and abrasions and any flying dust can enter the eye.  There is a serious danger of entanglement if the rotating parts are exposed, long hair, jewellery, loose clothing can all become entangled and should be kept away from rotating parts.

Common problems:
The guard must be at its lowest point to allow the material to be passed through it safely and accurately.  If  it is not the blade can bend and snap.  Never attempt to pull material out from the blade, especially if it is moving!


I have used the scroll saw on numerous occasions for cutting both wood and acrylic at tight and curved angles.  I feel comfortable and controlled using the machine although on a couple of occasions I have managed to snap the blade as they are quite fragile.

BS4163 Main points:
Hazards:  Hands and fingers can come into contact with the blade.  Dust can be inhaled.  Inadvertently starting the machine can become a hazard.  The saw can become detached from the bench.  The blade can become detached from the arm.  Any loose items, long hair e.t.c can become entangled in moving parts.

Risk Control:  Ensure all loose items are tied back and out of the way of moving parts.  Make sure the saw is set to an appropriate speed.  Ensure the correct material of the correct thickness is used.

Eye protection must be warn, dust extraction used if required and masks worn when cleaning.

CLEAPSS Main Points:
Hazards:  Human contact with any of the moving or reciprocating parts can cause cuts and abrasions.  Vibrations from the blade can cause the machine to move around the work bench.  Efficient dust extraction is required when cutting materials such as MDF.  All loose items tied back to avoid entanglement.

Common problem:
Pushing the material through the saw too fast can lead to the saw snapping.  Ensure all the correct components are tightened and the saw makes a ‘hummingbird’ sound when switched on.  Although one of the safest power tools to use you need up most concentration as anything less than full focus can lead to accidents and in-accurate work


I used the electric hand drill to drill the holes through sheet aluminium for my rivets in the plate rack.  I found it easy to use although at first before I used a centre punch I found it difficult to drill the holes in a straight line, however with the use of this component, drilling was made a lot more accurate.

BS4163 Main points:
Instructions should be given to ensure that users do not touch the rotating part of the drill.  The drill bit must be tightened securely.  Training should be given on deburring sharp edges on drilled material (this was necessary when deburring the holes in the aluminium).

CLEAPSS Main points:
Hazards: Tripping,  power leads can be tripped over although the electric drill I used was cordless.  Entanglement, long hair, loose clothing can get caught in the rotating parts.  Manual handling, heavy work pieces and the gyroscopic effect of rotating motors can present a manual handling hazard.  Flying materials, off cuts, broken drill bits and chuck keys can be ejected violently.

Eye protection, apron if necessary

Suitable materials and processes:
Drilling holes in large sheets or big blocks of materials that are not suitable for the pillar drill.  Allows for close and accurate work with added control.

Common problems:
There is a risk that people not used to using the tool could put their hands in hazardous places when holding materials steady.  Making sure the drill is operating at the right speed on the correct material, for something like acrylic it could cause cracking around the hole.  Making sure the drill bit is tight and rotating in the right direction.


I have only actually used this machine once and that was when we were showed how to use it safely in the second week.  It is quite daunting and extremely dangerous if not used with the correct due care and complete attention.

BS4163 Main points: Students should not use the circular table sawing machines, they are considered high risk woodworking machinery.  Only a competent specifically trained person should use the machine and a record of the training should be kept.

Hazards: Hands or fingers coming into contact with the moving blade,  work pieces becoming jammed, clothing getting entangled, fumes or dust being inhaled.  Noise causing hearing damage.  Inadvertent starting  of the machine can be a hazard, blunt or damaged blades can cause a hazard as can withdrawing work while the blade is moving.

Risk assessment: A mushroom headed safety stop button can quickly stop the machine in an emergency.   Fixed guards or interlocked guards that hide the mechanisms.  Electrical isolation must be provided and it must be controlled by a starter incorporating an overload protection and no vault release.  You should be able to lock the machine to ‘off’ when it is not in use.  There needs to be plenty of space around the saw bench so work can be safely handled.  The ripping fence should be set to no more than 50mm beyond the tips of the saw teeth in direction of the feed.  The riving knife should be securely fixed below the table and should be set so that the gap between the knife and the saw blade at table level is the minimum possible.  The crown guard for the exposed part of the saw blade should be rigid and easily adjustable.


Safety goggles, ear protectors, workshop apron, push stick

Suitable materials and processes

The circular table saw is suitable for cutting man made boards such as MDF and Ply wood and natural woods up to 50mm in depth.  The table (mounted fixed to the blade) has a fine groove to the left side of the blade where the crosscut angle can be moved. This way crosscuts are easily done. To the left side of the blade the guide fence for rip cuts is attached.   A rip cut is a parallel cut along the board sides, to cut the wood equal in width. Table saws with a sliding table allow the user to move the whole table part – left of the saw blade – backwards and forwards. As the entire table is guided on guide brush rollers, even panels of size can be cut easily.  Compared to fixed base table saws the sliding table allows to do cross cuts on a wider board width

Common problems

If the work is not held securely there is a high risk of   ‘kick back’ where the work can be thrown back violently, this can also happen if there are missing teeth on the blade or if the machine is started inadvertently.  Human contact with the moving blade is extremely dangerous and could be as serious as a fatality.  Long hair, loose clothing or jewelery can be entangled on moving parts dragging the user onto them.  Students thinking they can use the machine they must NEVER.

Here are the Pro Formas required for completion of this course:

CAM           Bandsaw           center lathe          circular saw proforma           electric hand drill              fan oven proforma

gas burner proforma          Hand and tablerouter          Hand held Jigsaw          hand tools proforma          Hegner saw proforma

hot glue gun proforma          Morticer proforma          oil saw proforma          orbital sander          pcb drill proforma

pillar drill proforma          Planer and Thicknesser          Portable biscuit cutter          solder iron proforma          strip heater proforma

vaccum former proforma           wood lathe          welding proforma


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