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Safe woodworking: a riveting read

I really tried to nail a good pun title for this article, but I couldn’t think of any that woodwork….

To put it plane and simple, my reasoning behind this article is that the HSE recently announced that they would be visiting woodworking business across Great Britain over a year-long period so I thought it would be good to give a refresher on this topic as some people may be stumped over where to start.

What are the Hazards?

Wooden it be nice if there were absolutely no hazards from woodworking activities? Unfortunately, there are a multitude of different hazards with woodworking businesses including:

  • Working with machinery
  • Slips Trip and Falls
  • Fire and Explosion
  • Vehicles and Traffic Management
  • Hazardous Substances
  • Noise
  • Respiratory Health
  • Manual Handling

To help eliminate and reduce the risks that these hazards present, it is essential to encourage workers to get involved. These are the people that know the processes and the hazards best and are crucial in finding solutions to reduce workplace accidents and ill-health.

Tree Key Elements to Managing Woodworking Safely

Risk management

To reduce the chances of an accident occurring, it is best to look at what might cause one and then decide what you need to do to stop it happening.

Training and Supervision

By law, all workers must receive training and supervision that is appropriate to the equipment they will be using.

Workplace Management

Paying attention to layout, worker movement and keeping workshops and storage areas tidy can help reduce the risks.

Risk Assessments

Risk assessments are vital in reducing workplace accidents and ill-health but only if they reflect the workplace, have had the involvement of workers and have the correct control measures identified. Once they have been written, they must be briefed to employees, and they must be monitored and reviewed. Any further actions identified should also be actioned.

You can follow these simple steps to carry out your risk assessments:

1: Identify the Hazards.

2: Decide Who Might Be Harmed and How.

3: Evaluate the Risks and Take Action to Prevent Them.

4: Record Your Findings.

5: Review the Risk Assessment.

Workplace Inspections

Be-leaf me, I’ve seen a fair few workplaces that can be best described as hamster heaven. One of my general rules of thumb is that if a workplace is untidy and disorganised then this generally represents their attitude towards health and safety and there will be other issues.

Machinery and work equipment should also be looked at. It should be appropriate for the task and used by competent and trained persons. Machinery should be kept in good condition and regularly serviced, and all guards should be in place.

Training and Supervision

Poor supervision and inadequate training are two of the main causes of accidents.

For training you must think about who needs to be trained, when the training needs to be given and who needs refresher training and when. It is the law that all workers receive adequate health and safety training. The training can be in-house (as long as the person providing the training is competent), external or a mixture of both.

Supervisors are the eyes and ears for management on the shop floor. To be fir, supervisors have a tough job as they have to monitor quality and production but not at the expense of safety! You shouldn’t be afraid to stop something if you think it is wrong and if in doubt, ask!

Workplace Management

Although it would be lovely to get everything spot on first time, it is not often the case. So just take it whittle by whittle to improve it. Take a look at your workplace layout and how it works for your employees and their safety.

  • Position machines to take account of production requirements as well as the safe movement of people and materials.
  • Ensure that you stack timber and boards safely to prevent any collapsing / falling objects.
  • Encourage workers to look after their own work areas, keeping it tidy and free from excess materials and waste. Remember, all employees have a responsibility to look after their own health and safety.

The HSE provide lots of guidance on this topic and provide examples of risk assessments, model training assessments which are extremely helpful so feel free to have a look via the link below

https://www.hse.gov.uk/woodworking/index.htm

If you got this far then thank you for putting up with my terrible puns, maybe shave this article for later… I hope it has been somewhat useful but if you do have any further questions or require any advice then please do get in touch.

woodwork