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Notify WorkSafe Call 1300 366 322

Workshop safety

Look around your workshop

  • Is the work area as free from hazards as possible?
  • Is the area equipped to handle emergency situations; for example, with fire extinguishers, properly equipped first aid kits?
  • Is the workshop managed to keep it safe?
  • Are tools and equipment properly guarded?
  • Do workers use tools and equipment in a safe manner?
  • Do workers use appropriate personal protective equipment?

Safety precautions

  • Read the operator’s manual and observe all safety precautions for all equipment.
  • Protect yourself from electric shock. Check power tools before use. Fit a residual current device (RCD or safety switch) to the electrical circuit to prevent electrical shock or electrocution. If an RCD is not fitted, use a portable RCD.
  • Keep all guards and shields in place.
  • Give the task your full attention.
  • Let each tool work at its own speed; do not force it.
  • Always wear appropriate personal protective clothing.
  • Maintain secure footing and balance at all times.
  • Keep tools clean and sharp.
  • Turn the switch off immediately if the power tool stalls or jams.
  • Wherever possible, use clamps or a vice to hold your work.
  • Provide enough light so you can see what you are doing.
  • Store power tools safely to prevent damage to the tool and cord, and to prevent unauthorised use.
  • Maintain power tools in good working order. Replace or repair worn or faulty equipment immediately.

Hand tools

The main causes of injury with hand tools include:

  • using the wrong tool
  • using a tool in poor condition
  • using a tool the wrong way
  • keeping tools in unsafe places.

So prevent injury by following these safe practices when using tools.

  • Use tools of an appropriate size and shape for the job.
  • Wipe oil, grease and dirt from tools with a clean rag before starting a job.
  • Clean tools and keep in trays or boxes when not in use.
  • Shut off machines before adjusting them.
  • Wear safety glasses when using punches, chisels, hammers or grinding devices.
  • Use safety equipment when removing and installing heavy parts.
  • Hold safety meetings to teach workers about the care and safe use of tools.
  • Keep a first aid kit and a doctor’s name, address and phone number handy for emergencies.
  • Don’t use homemade or re-worked tools, or tools not designed for the job.
  • Don’t use pipe extensions or other ‘cheaters’ or wrenches too light for the job.
  • Don’t place tools where they can fall and strike someone.
  • Don’t carry pointed or sharp tools in your pockets.
  • Don’t throw tools — hand them. Use a rope or cord to raise or lower tools and equipment.

Wrenches

  • Always pull on a wrench, never push.
  • Always face wrench jaw openings in direction of pull.
  • When pulling on a wrench, brace against a backward fall by placing one foot behind the other.
  • Inspect ratchet wrenches periodically and replace worn or defective parts.
  • Keep moving parts of adjustable wrenches clean and lubricated.
  • Don’t try to work with a wrench in a cocked position.
  • Use angle connections so that the wrench will fit flat and square on the nut or bolt head.
  • Don’t use wrenches with spread-out jaw openings or sockets with battered or rounded walls.
  • Don’t use a wrench as a hammer.
  • Don’t pound on a wrench to loosen a frozen nut; use penetrating oil, a heavier wrench or one designed for impact work.

Screwdrivers

  • Use the right length screwdriver so that it can be applied at right angles to the screw head.
  • Use the largest-sized screwdriver that will fit snugly into the screw slot.
  • Use a screwdriver with an insulated handle for electrical work.
  • Don’t use a screwdriver with a worn or broken tip.
  • Don’t use a screwdriver as a punch, chisel or pry-bar.
  • Don’t hold a small part in your hand while working on it with a screwdriver — put it into a vice.

Pliers

  • Point the inside of plier cutting jaws away from your face to prevent injury from flying cuttings.
  • Don’t use pliers with smoothly worn gripping sections or with loose rivets or nut and bolt assemblies.
  • Don’t use pliers for bolt turning — they are designed for gripping and cutting only.
  • Don’t overload cutting pliers. If wire can’t be cut with one hand squeezing pliers, use a larger pair of pliers.
  • Check the insulation on pliers — a pin hole can be fatal.

Chisels and punches

  • Use a chisel with a cutting edge of the same width or wider than the area to be cut.
  • Use the largest punch to fit the job without binding.
  • Hold chisels and punches loosely with the palm up, or use a tool holder.
  • Don’t use chisels and punches with ‘mushroomed’ heads — metal may chip off and cause injury.
  • Don’t use a chisel, punch or pry bar to remove gears, wheels or bearings from a shaft — use a pulling tool.

Hammers

  • Use a hammer heavy enough for the job.
  • Don’t use a hammer with a cracked head or handle.
  • Don’t use a hammer with a ‘mushroomed’ or battered and rounded striking face.
  • When spalling rock with a heavy hammer, wear eye protection.

Files

  • Fit the sharp end with a handle.
  • Place small objects in a vice for filing.
  • Don’t hit a file with a hammer.
  • Don’t use a file to pry, chisel or punch.

Electric/pneumatic tools

  • Frequently inspect the condition of switches, control valves, electric cord and hose connections. Store electric cords loosely coiled in a clean, dry place.
  • Always use a portable residual current device (RCD or safety switch) where a fixed RCD is not available.
  • Keep electric tools away from oil, hot surfaces and chemicals.
  • Ground electric tools to prevent possible electric shock.
  • Don’t patch damaged cords — shorten or replace them.
  • Don’t hang a cord over a nail or sharp edge or allow it to kink.
  • Don’t leave a cord where it can be run over or damaged.
  • Don’t use electrical tools in wet areas or where flammable gases or vapours are present.

Resources

Sample safe work procedures

Updated: 29th October 2019