Safety Services


Workshop safety

This page provides generic guidance for people who run and work in engineering workshops at UCL including those who make their own products and maintain and repair plant and machinery.

Safety in workshops is subject to various high-risk assessments. Safe working practices must be observed and adhered to by all workshop users and enforced by the person in charge of these areas.  

The number of potential hazards in a workshop will vary on the size and complexity of activities carried out. Due to high risk activities taking place in the workshops access to these areas must be restricted to authorised personnel only.

On this page 

Risk assessment

  • A risk assessment should be carried out before you start the task.
  • It is to be noted that assessing risk is just one part of the overall process used to control risks in your workplace. Safe working practices must be observed and adhered to by all workshop users and enforced by the person in charge of these areas.
  • Ensure all work is assessed for risks using riskNET.
  • Further information can be found on our risk assessment page.

Lone and out-of-hours working

  • No lone working with hazardous equipment and/or materials is permitted. Such work can only be undertaken when there are at least two staff present in the workshop.
  • Work cannot be carried out outside normal working hours if there is only one person in the workshop. Any exception from this rule will depend on the outcome of the risk assessment and the nature of work to be undertaken.
  • Further information can be found on our lone working page.

Workshop supervision, training, control and personal hygiene


  • For every workshop there shall be one particular named person who is charged with being responsible for all aspects of safety within that workshop, or under his/her control, including where necessary, the supervision of other individuals using the machines and equipment.
  • The names of the supervisor or other competent authorized person(s) should be displayed at the entrance to the workshop.
  • Despite the guarding of machines to the standards required, there may still remain a residual risk and the supervisor must therefore ensure that only competent authorized persons are permitted to use machines and equipment unsupervised.
  • Whenever a person who is not yet considered by the workshop supervisor or other competent authorized person to be fully competent is required, or has need to use a particular machine, then the workshop supervisor or other competent authorized person shall arrange that the operator is supervised by another fully competent person who must ensure that only safe methods of working are followed.
  • No student may work unaccompanied in any workshop. There must always be another person within sight and hearing who can render assistance in the event of an emergency.  
  • No staff member may work unaccompanied in any workshop unless appropriate precautions and measures have been established, relevant to equipment being used. 


  • Training of operators may consist of three elements:
  • General. The basic skills and knowledge common to all machines. This will include aspects of good housekeeping plus knowledge of the relevant legislation.
  • Machine specific. The basic skill in the operation of the machine, including the position and function of emergency stops; basic safety rules related to the operation of a machine or class of machines; the use and adjustment of guards and safety devices.
  • Familiarization. On-the-job operation under close supervision (refer relevant sections).
  • Only those staff members who have received appropriate technical training in relation to workshop machinery will be deemed suitable to operate or supervise other people in such equipment. The line manager or other competent authorized person concerned must determine the need for appropriate training.
  • No student or other person may be allowed to operate machinery without first being adequately instructed and/or trained in its use, by a competent authorized person.

Entry control

  • Each workshop shall, so far as is reasonably practicable, be securely closed when proper supervision is not available. If this is not possible, all hazardous equipment must be secured to prevent unauthorized use and electrical equipment isolated or the power turned off. Apart from those regularly employed as operators or supervisors in workshops; permission to use any machine must always be first obtained from the person in charge.
  • Each workshop entrance must display a notice to include, but not be limited to the following:
  • Any person entering this workshop must make herself or himself known to the person in charge.
  • Any person wishing to use this workshop must have completed a Workshop Induction.
  • No piece of equipment may be used without having completed the relevant section of the Workshop Induction.
  • In the interests of safety, the person in charge has the right to refuse or limit entry to this workshop.
  • Power tools must not be used unless an appropriate person is present to supervise.
  • Machine guards must be properly adjusted and used where provided and never removed when machines are in use.
  • Jigs & fixtures must be inspected before use for defects and suitability.
  • All machines will be left with their blades and cutters stationary and brakes on, (where fitted), and the power isolator in the off position.
  • No person shall use machinery when tired, taking medication or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Personal hygiene 

  • Food and drink must not be consumed or brought into the workshops.
  • Mineral oils are known to cause dermatitis and in some cases, cancer. Operators and others coming into contact with mineral and other chemicals, for example cleaning fluids, solvents, acids/alkalis, etc. must be made aware of the need for cleanliness and thorough hand washing. Regular and effective cleaning of overalls and any personal clothing, which comes into contact with chemicals, is essential.

Workshop practices and personal protective equipment 

  • The Workshop Supervisor or other competent authorized person must ensure that work equipment risk assessments are completed and recorded in riskNET.
  • The completion of work by safe methods must always take precedence over any deadlines determined by the person commissioning the work. 
  • Eating and drinking in the mechanical workshop areas are strictly prohibited.
  • Appropriate clothing must be worn when in workshops. The Workshop Supervisor or other competent authorized person will determine what is deemed appropriate, bearing in mind that not only machine operators will require appropriate clothing, but also others who may only be observing operations.
  • Loose clothing, for example ties, necklaces, chains, etc. present a danger when using rotating machinery and must be prohibited. Long hair must be covered or tied back as appropriate if the Workshop Supervisor or other competent authorized person(s) considers the length to be such as to be hazardous.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is supplied and must be used where necessary. Barrier cream, lab coats/overalls, eye and hearing protection, dust masks and safety shoes must be used as the work/risk assessment dictates.
  • Lab coats/overalls and safety boots must be worn by technicians operating the machines. 
  • The gangway through the workshop must be kept clear. Any oil spillage, grease etc. must be cleaned up immediately.
  • Do not carry loads such that the weight may be dangerous, or vision obscured. Refer to UCL Manual Handling Guidance.
  • No hazardous substance to health can be used before a COSHH risk assessment is undertaken and a safe system of work issued to the users.
  • New work/processes involving the use of hazardous substances must not be started unless a COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) risk assessment has been completed, whereby appropriate controls etc. must be implemented.
  • All persons are responsible for housekeeping and to ensure spillages are cleaned up immediately, and that the floor is kept as non-slip as possible.

Workshop equipment and tools

  • No machine may be used, or work is undertaken unless the technician-in-charge is satisfied that the person is capable of doing so safely. If the equipment is fitted with guards these must be used. Equipment must never be used if the safety guards have been removed.
  • Any person working in the mechanical and electronic workshop must have read and understood the appropriate risk assessment if the work or equipment they are using has been risk assessed.
    Refer to Risk Assessment Guidance and riskNET.
  • No person shall mount any abrasive wheel unless he/she has been trained in accordance with the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER). Grinding machines shall only be operated by technical staff and eye protection must be worn.
  • Service records of all machine tools, plant and equipment must be kept. They must list the date of any service/repair and name of the person responsible for carrying out that service/repair. Faults which cannot be repaired immediately should be reported to the technician-in-charge and a note should be attached to the machine where it is clearly visible indicating that the equipment is out of order.
  • All portable electrical equipment must be regularly inspected and tested for electrical safety. 
  • Lifting equipment and accessories must be registered with the University’s Engineering Insurers and be subject to a thorough examination at the statutorily required intervals.
  • All air receivers must be subject to a thorough examination at the statutorily required intervals. 
  • Where applicable suitable Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) must be used. The LEV systems must be subjected to a thorough inspection and test at least once every 14 months.
  • Ladders/stepladders should be individually identified, and formal inspections carried out. Refer to Ladders and Stepladders.
  • No welding may be undertaken unless the technician-in-charge is satisfied that the person is capable of doing so safely. During any welding operation, the fume extraction system must be used.
  • When using woodworking machines the dust extractor and face masks must be used.
  • Equipment must be cleaned after use. Any materials, tools or equipment used must be tidied away.
  • Precision measuring equipment, drills, etc. must be replaced in their appropriate cabinets after each working day.
  • Tools and equipment must not be removed from the workshop without permission from the technician-in-charge.

Location of machines

Machines must always be located in workshop in such a way as to ensure that there is always adequate room to work without risk of endangering an operator at any machine nearby, or any other person in the workshop area. It is recommended that clearance between moving sideways and fixed adjacent objects should not be less than 0.5 meters.

Labelling of machines

Where appropriate, Workshop Supervisor or other competent authorized person must ensure that all machinery have a colored sticker to indicate the level of risk inherent to it. For example:

  • Green would signify low risk (only to be used after training)
  • Yellow would signify medium risk (only to be used with permission);
  • Blue would signify medium risk (only to be used after sufficient training & under supervision);
  • Red would signify high risk (approved staff use only).

Housekeeping, lighting, ventilation and temperature


  • Persons using the workshop must ensure that the working environment is satisfactory and safe.
  • Any deficiencies must be brought to the attention of the appropriate supervisor, and other competent and responsible persons within UCL (as applicable) as soon as practicable.


  • Each workshop must have a robust system for the collection, handling, storage and disposal of waste materials. The Workshop Supervisor or other competent authorized person will be responsible for the safe management of waste.
  • Due to manual handling regulations, each workshop must ensure that rubbish bags are not over loaded.
  • All swarf and other sharp edged waste materials (glass, metal etc.) must be regularly cleaned up and placed in approved type metal sharps bin. No rubbish of any kind must be allowed to accumulate. Compressed air must not be used for cleaning operations.


The Workshop Supervisor or other competent authorized person must ensure that the lighting of the area under his/her control is adequate for the nature of the work being carried out. Under certain circumstances fluorescent lighting may produce a stroboscopic effect in relation to rotating machinery. When appropriate, local tungsten lighting should be used. Persons using machines under fluorescent lighting must be warned that the stroboscopic effect could make moving parts appear stationary.


The Workshop Supervisor or other competent authorized person must satisfy themselves that ventilation in the area under his/her control is satisfactory with regard to the nature of work being carried out, particularly in respect to welding, spray painting, glassblowing, wood machining and other processes involving use of hazardous substances. (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002).


Temperatures in the indoor workplace are covered by the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, which place a legal obligation on employers to provide a reasonable temperature in the workplace.

Accidents and emergencies

Emergency Plan

Departments should document their emergency plan in line with the UCL Safety Services.

Accidents and Incidents

All accidents, incidents and near misses must be reported using riskNET.

First Aid

Each workshop must have a first aid box and a trained first aider (if appropriate). The Workshop Supervisor or other competent authorized person must ensure that the first aid box is checked and if necessary, restocked weekly.

Fire Safety

Workshop staff and students (as applicable) should know how to use fire-fighting equipment and should know where the equipment is located. For information visit Fire Safety at UCL.

Last updated: Thursday, October 15, 2020