The main legislation on work equipment is the Provision and Use of

Work Equipment Regulations

Work equipment comes in all shapes and sizes and varies from simple tools to complex machinery. However, even using simple equipment can be a high risk. One of the most common injuries is a severe cut sustained while using a knife such as a “Stanley knife”- and a “Stanley knife” is quite a simple item of work equipment. However simple or complicated the work equipment, there will be safe ways to use it and unsafe ways to use it. The safe ways of using work equipment, especially machines, are often referred to as “safe systems of work” for that equipment or machine. The following pages provide basic guidance for a range of equipment. Before using any work equipment make sure you know the safe way to use it. Usually this will involve asking a competent person before you use the equipment for the first time. Once you know the safe ways to use the equipment, always use it in these safe ways. In order to work safely with machines or items of equipment you have to: find out what the safe system of work is for that machine or item of equipment make sure you are competent in the safe system of work follow the safe system of work at all times. It is also essential to find out how to stop the machine in the event of an emergency. So far as machinery guarding is concerned, you have to find out whether the machine should be fitted with a guard.

If a machine should have a guard then you should:

never operate the machine without the guard in place, or never try to defeat the guard.

Using an extension lead increases the risk of receiving an electric shock

and presents a tripping hazard to others

The trailing length of cable can easily be damaged, so it is important to check that the cable, plug and socket are not damaged in any way, before using the extension lead. In particular, look out for nicks and deep abrasions in the cable, which could leave wires exposed. Pay attention to the plug as it is easily knocked while the extension lead is being handled, which may cause damage to the casing of the plug. A rubber-sheathed plug, which can withstand some ‘abuse’, is better than a standard plastic plug. Cable connectors and sockets are usually keyed and colour-coded, according to the voltage range and frequency used; common colours for 50/60 Hz AC power are yellow for 100/130 volts, blue for 200/250 volts, and red for 380/480 volts. Do not use the extension lead if it has damage to the cable or to the plug or socket.

When using an extension lead:

do not cause a tripping hazard - use safety signs to warn others; always unwind the cable fully - otherwise the coiled cable will overheat; make sure that the cable is not damaged or twisted - bare wires are a danger; ensure that the plugs and sockets on the lead are not cracked or broken; make sure that any electrical socket joints on the cable are not on a wet floor or near water; do not allow the cable to run under doors - it may become damaged; do not use an extension lead that is not longer than 18m (60ft) or "double up" extensions - as using longer cables causes the voltage to drop too much

No one should use any powered hand tool until they have been trained

how to use it safely

Always use the PPE that is needed, while using the tool. If the tool is to be use on a construction site, or in a damp location, then it should preferably be battery operated; or if a battery tool is not available, then it must be suitable for a 110-volt electrical supply. Always check an electrically powered the tool to make sure that it has been P.A.T. tested and that the cable and plug are not damaged in any way. Do not use the tool if it has a damaged cable or plug. Do not tamper with electrical connections - a competent electrician must carry out any electrical repair work that is required. Some work activities such as welding, grinding and roofing are a serious cause of fires on sites undergoing construction or refurbishment. For this reason, remove all combustible materials from the area where a naked flame is to be used, or where grinding work is taking place; and keep at least one fire extinguisher (water or dry powder) at hand. After the work is completed, check the work and surrounding areas, to ensure that there are no smouldering materials. Or better still, use a hand-held thermal imaging device to do this.

These simple rules should also be applied to the charger used with battery

powered tools.

Guards and safety devices that are fitted to powered hand tools are provided for personal protection and must not be removed or interfered with - it is an offence to do so. Keep guards that are fitted, in position at all times when using them. Additionally, when using portable electrically powered tools: drape the flex over one shoulder to keep it clear of the work area, while making sure that there is still enough slack to allow adequate movement; hold the tool lightly in both hands, keeping clear of any moving parts, and maintain a stable stance that gives a good view of the work; stop using it if you notice that you are being affected by hand-arm vibration; do not leave it running when not using it.

Many of food preparation machines are hazardous to use

Many of the machines used in the preparation of food are so familiar that it is easy to forget the hazards they can present, particularly during cleaning and maintenance. A number of machines are particularly hazardous – these are highlighted below. You must not work on these with out specialist training about the risks from the particular machines at your place of work and the precautions to be taken when using or cleaning it. Young people under 18 years of age must not work on these machines until their training is fully understood and unless they are properly supervised. worm-type mincing machines rotary knife bowl-type chopping machines dough brakes and dough mixers food mixing machines when used with attachments used for mincing, slicing, chipping or any cutting operation for crumbing pie and tart machines vegetable slicing machines bandsaws and machines with circular saw blades circular knife slicing machines potato chipping machines, whether power-operated or not. The safe method of cleaning each machine must be set out in the method statement for that machine.

A high-pressure jet of water can cause serious damage to the human


It is therefore essential that anyone using this type of equipment, uses the appropriate personal protective equipment. If the equipment is electrically operated, the damp and wet conditions resulting from its use can be dangerous. To reduce the risk of electric shock use an RCD (Residual Current-operated Device). Check the equipment before you use it. Look at that the cable and plug to make sure that they are not damaged in any way, and that any extension lead that is used with it is also checked. Do not use the pressure washer if it has a damaged cable or plug. Do not tamper with electrical connections - a competent electrician must carry out any electrical repair work that is required. Pay particular attention to the hoses and if there is any sign of excessive wear, do not use them. Very high-pressure washers (135 bar [2000 psi] and above) must not be used off ladders or steps - a stable working platform is essential.

When using a pressure washer make sure that:

hoses are handled with care and not trailed over sharp edges or placed where they may be damaged. the spray is always directed away from people, or anything else that could be damaged by it; the spray is not directed at or near anything electrical. - even if it is isolated from its power supply - as water penetration may cause problems when the power is restored; the unit is not left running unless the lance is actually in use – it will cause the pump to overheat; hoses are coiled up neatly when they are not in use; in the winter months, the washer is protected from frost.

No one should use a floor-cleaning machine unless they have been

trained how to use it safely

Always check that the machine has been P.A.T. tested and that the cable and plug are not damaged in any way. Do not use the machine if it has a damaged cable or plug, and that any extension lead that is used with it is also checked. Do not tamper with electrical connections - a competent electrician must carry out any electrical repair work that is required. Guards and safety devices that are fitted to cleaning machines are provided for personal protection and must not be removed or interfered with - it is an offence to do so. When using the machine keep the guards that are fitted to it in position at all times. To reduce the risk of electric shock when using 240-volt equipment, plug an RCD (Residual Current-operated Device) into the socket, unless the building already has protected circuits. When using the machine: check the operation of the safety switches to make sure that they are working correctly; if the machine is vacuum assisted, check that the vacuum bag is empty before you start; make sure that the base plate is not distorted and that the pad / brush is properly attached before the machine is switched on; adjust the handle so that it is at a suitable height for you to use; keep the cable well away from the work area at all times; if you are undertaking floor scrubbing or stripping, put out "wet floor" signs; stop using the machine if you notice you are being affected by hand-arm vibration; do not leave cleaning equipment running whilst it is unattended and if unattended leave in a safe position. when you have finished the work; clean down the machine; remove the base plate and pad; hang up the base plate and then wash the pads.

Step ladders must only be used for short duration activities – a working

platform is the preferred method for working at a height.

Where the work at height assessment indicates that a step ladder is the best choice, then before using it, check it to make sure that it has no defects and that it is tall enough for the job. Regularly inspect step ladders and keep them maintained. Make sure that it is suitable for heavy use. Ladders that are designed for light domestic use, must not be used for general work. Do not use metal step ladders when carrying out work on electrical circuits or apparatus. Step ladders require careful use, as they are not designed for any degree of side loading, so avoid heavy and awkward tasks. Do not erect a step ladder on a sloping surface, a movable object, an unstable surface or in front of a door that may be opened. Always use them at right angles to the work, with the styles fully extended and don't overreach. Do not use the top step unless it has been designed for that purpose and has a wider platform and grab rail. When working on a step ladder follow these simple rules: make sure that it is on a firm level base; check that the work can be reached without stretching; carry any tools that are needed in a shoulder bag or holster; make sure that a good handhold is available; always keep three points of contact with the ladder; only use it for a maximum of 15 to 30 minutes at a time. Podium steps offer a safer alternative to step ladders; as they have a wider base, and a rigid stable working platform with barriers to prevent falls. They also allow work to be done in any direction, and two handed. They are usually made from aluminium and have a ‘snap click’, or fold out assembly, with slide-in handrails that provide a four-sided ‘cage’ to work in.

Ladders must only be used for short duration activities – a working plat-

form is always the preferred method for working at a height

Where the work at height assessment indicates that a ladder is the best choice, then before using a ladder, check it to make sure that it has no defects and that it is long enough for the job. Make sure that it is suitable for heavy use. Ladders that are designed for light domestic use, must not be used for general work. Do not erect a ladder on a sloping surface, a movable object, against a slippery or unstable surface or in front of a door that may be opened. The correct way of leaning a ladder is to place it about 1 m out for every 4 m in height i.e. at an angle of 75 degrees. There should be sufficient space behind the rung to provide a proper footing. Remember to clean grease, mud, etc. off footwear before attempting to climb the ladder. Where it is possible to do so, make sure that the ladder cannot slip by securely fixing the top. Take special care on slippery or smooth surfaces to prevent the foot of the ladder from moving. Where securing at the top is impracticable, the ladder must be prevented from slipping outwards or sideways by using a proprietary spreader arm or stay.

When working on a leaning ladder follow these

simple rules:

dress sensibly - avoid loose clothing, use footwear with a heel - and act in a sensible manner; only allow one person on a ladder at any one time; face the ladder when climbing and descending; stand at least five rungs from the top so that an adequate handhold is available; do not over reach; never throw equipment down - always carry it down the ladder.

No one should attempt to erect, alter or dismantle a mobile tower until

they have receiving proper training

You must ensure that not only the person building the tower is competent but also those who specify, use and supervise or manage the use of a tower are competent to do so. Attending a PASMA (Prefabricated Aluminium Scaffold Manufactures Association), or equivalent training course, will provide the required level of training. Where the work at height assessment indicates that a mobile tower is the best choice, then it should be provided with double guard rails and have toe boards to minimise the likelihood of a fall, and should have a ‘built-in’ access ladder, preferably on the inside of the tower. Each manufacturer has their own specific requirements on how their tower should be built and dismantled; which must always be done using a safe method of work. Always follow the manufacturer’s or supplier’s instruction manual; and make sure that the manual is available to the person/s erecting and using the tower, and to the person supervising the work. No manual should mean no tower. As a broad guide, the maximum height of a mobile scaffold should not be more than three times the minimum base width for outside use, and three and a half times for inside use. Outriggers or ties must be used when these ratios are exceeded. A competent person must inspect the tower, and make a record of this, when the tower is erected and before it is first used; and then every seven days if the tower remains in the same place. Keep the working platform, free of non-essential materials and do not use the tower for support purposes at any time. Never use boxes, steps and so on, to gain extra height from the working platform – always add an extra lift.

No one should attempt to operate a mobile elevated work platform

(MEWP) until they have receiving proper training

MEWPs, also known as aerial work platforms (AWPs), are one of the safest means to provide temporary access to work at height, provided a risk assessment is completed prior to use; and the equipment is operated by a qualified, trained and familiarised person. Attending an IPAF (International Powered Access Federation), or equivalent training course, will provide the required level of training. The work at height assessment will often indicate that scissor lifts, cherry pickers and similar powered platforms are the best choice to work at a hight, where it cannot be avoided. This is because they provide excellent safe access and a safe means of carrying out work at high level .

However, make sure that:

the operators are fully trained and certified as competent it is used on a firm level surface and has properly inflated tyres i.e. gauge checked if it is used outside – the weather conditions are suitable i.e. no high winds / boggy ground, etc. any outriggers are extended and spreader boards used, as necessary, before it is used there are guard rails / barriers and toe boards the safe working load (SWL) is not exceeded those on the platform use harnesses with lanyards clipped to a secure anchorage point inside the platform everyone knows what to do if the machine fails with the platform in the raised position regular checks are made to ensure that the MEWP is not sinking into the ground

Working on roofs results in a substantial number of fatal and serious ac-

cidents every year

For this reason, no one must go onto any roof or undertake any roof work, no matter how simple it seems, until they are properly trained to do so. There must be a Risk Assessment for the work, which takes into account the hazards likely to be encountered, e.g. process and flue discharges, fragile materials, etc. This must also consider the emergency rescue arrangements. Design and plan the working using the guidance that is given in the HSE document “Health and safety in roof work” (ref. HSG33).

When planning the work, and working at height

cannot be avoided, apply the safeguards shown below, in the following order:

a safe working platform with guardrails and toe boards - this is the most effective precaution;

Only if this first level of protection cannot be achieved in practice, are the following


safety nets and similar protective systems – as these provide general protection – or lastly; individual protection e.g. safety harnesses with lanyards or inertia reels, attached to suitable anchorage points. Work of short duration i.e. taking minutes rather than hours, may be carried out using individual fall protection. Use a suitable safety harness and lanyard with a shock absorber, or an inertia reel, secured to an anchorage point that is capable of taking the anticipated shock loads if a fall occurs. For other work, suitable edge protection must be provided. This must consist of guardrails and toe boards at the edge, and fencing around any opening or skylight, where a person can fall. There must be a safe means of access to the roof. Check the weather conditions each day before work starts and if necessary, while the work is to be done. Remember that a safe foothold can be difficult in bad weather.

Eye bolts have a variety of uses, one of the most common being as an

anchor point for a safety device

When working off eyebolts, for window cleaning or maintenance work, or when using them to secure a ladder, make sure that: Everyone knows the emergency arrangements and what to do and if you or a colleague falls. The weather conditions are suitable to allow the work to be done safely. Re-assess the situation regularly, particularly if the weather is changeable. Each eyebolt has a tag around the neck identifying the date it was inspected and tested or that there is test certificate for the eyebolts fitted to the building. Do not undertake any work unless there is a tag or a valid current certificate. You physically check the security of every bolt, each time - before you use it, by tugging it and twisting it. If there is any doubt about its security, do not use it and leave that area of work. Make a note of defective eyebolts and tell the building owner about it. You use a full body harness and webbing lanyards (rope lanyards tend to untwist in use) that have a maximum length of 1.8 metres (6 feet) and are fitted with a shock absorbing pack. Where practicable use a shorter lanyard with absorber pack, as when the absorber is activated and opens, the overall length of the fall will be extended. For window cleaning work, the eyebolts are normally installed above shoulder height but within reach. Where the eyebolts are fitted at low level, use an inertia reel for restraint, rather than a lanyard.

Confined spaces require special attention as there is a risk of death or

serious injury from hazardous substances or dangerous conditions

For this reason, always follow the guidance given in the Confined Spaces Regulations and the associated Code of Practice [L101]. Examples of typical confined spaces are given in the general guidance on this website, and some are illustrated here. A Risk Assessment that takes into account the hazards likely to be encountered in the confined space must be undertaken. This must consider the need for testing the atmosphere; a safe means of getting into and out of the space, as well as suitable emergency rescue arrangements.

Remember, the main hazards associated with confined spaces are fumes from plant or pro-

cess entering the space, which could result in:

Use the information from the Risk Assessment to sort out the most effective procedures to control the work. These may include the use of a permit-to-work system, obtaining the correct equipment and providing information, instruction and training to those doing the work. The Supervisor must make sure that all of the necessary equipment, including suitable rescue and first aid equipment, is available, in accordance with the planned procedures, before any person enters a confined space. The Supervisor must also make sure that the permit-to-work system and the planned procedures are followed and that only authorised persons are permitted to enter the confined space

Do not, under any circumstances enter any manhole, sewer, culvert or

drain unless adequate safety arrangements have been made and they

are in place

The arrangements for working in confined spaces that are given on this website must be fully implemented. If there is any sign or suspicion of rat infestation, follow the precautions against Weil's disease that are given on this website.

Take special care where chemical drain cleaners may have

already been tried. Most are toxic and may cause burns.

If powered equipment and/or high-pressure washing equipment is to be used, then follow the guidance given on this website.

Make sure that all equipment is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected after it has been used.

Lead-acid batteries contain dilute sulphuric acid that is poisonous and

corrosive, which will cause burns or irritation if it comes into contact

with the skin or eyes

Battery operated machines normally require recharging after they have been used, but during periods of heavy use they may require a boosting or ‘top-up’ charge. Do not carry out battery charging or 'topping-up' operations unless you are trained how to do it safely.

When charging a battery, follow these precautions:

always read and follow the manufactures written instructions; make sure the area has good general ventilation to avoid gases and vapours building up and that the battery charger has a good flow of air through it to cool it; do not smoke or allow sparks near the battery as it gives off gases that can form an explosive mixture; switch off the circuit breaker before connecting or disconnecting the battery, as otherwise a spark can cause an explosion; make sure that connections are secure before switching on.

When 'topping-up' a battery, follow these workplace precautions:

wear rubber gloves, a plastic apron and a protective face mask; only remove or open vent plugs when specific gravity readings are being taken; 'top-up' battery cells only to the correct level, and as recommended by the manufacturer.
•	asphyxiation due to a lack of oxygen •	poisoning by toxic substances or fumes •	explosions due to gases, fumes, dusts •	fire due to flammable liquids, oxygen enrichment, etc. •	electrocution from unstable equipment •	drowning •	difficulties of rescuing injured personnel
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