10. Workshop safety
Agricultural workers routinely perform workshop tasks that in other industries would be undertaken by a variety of skilled trades people.
Injuries associated with slips trips and falls, repairs and maintenance of machinery and associated workshop tasks are among the most frequent causes of injury.
Regularly check the workshop for potential hazards in the structure of the building, electrical installations and fittings, power tools and equipment, ladders and trestles, electric and gas welding equipment, safe storage of hazardous materials accessibility to children and the carrying of heavy and awkward weights.
Once a potential hazard has been identified, assess the likelihood and possible severity of an injury occurring and take steps to minimise or control the risk.
Consider the following control measures, listed in order of importance:
- remove the hazard eg dispose of the old grinder;
- substitute with a less hazardous one eg clean hands with hand cleaner and not petrol or thinners;
- isolate the hazardous process eg erect welding screens;
- adopt safe working practices eg only one person in the area when grinding; and
- provide personal protective equipment eg safety glasses or face shield.
- Maintain good house keeping standards to control slip, trip and fall hazards.
- Ensure there is adequate working space for each job.
- Keep walkways and exits clear.
- Use angle grinders only for grinding and not for cutting. Safer power cutting tools are available.
- Ensure all guards and shields are kept in place.
- Use clamps and vices to hold job items where possible.
- Ensure that bench grinders, pedestal drills and similar equipment is adequately secured.
- Always wear safety glasses or a face shield when eyes are at risk.
- Never cut or grind containers that have previously contained flammable or toxic substances.
- Before climbing, place the ladder feet about a quarter of the ladder’s length from the wall or top support.
- Before working high on a ladder, secure it to prevent it from slipping.
- Never stand ladders on drums or boxes to gain additional height.
- Ensure that all ladders comply with the Australian Standard.
Hazards associated with welding include:
- Arc The arc reaches extreme temperatures and produces intense ultraviolet and infrared rays that can be harmful to both the welder and bystanders. Damage to unprotected skin and the eyes can occur.
- Fumes Welding in confined spaces and unventilated areas should be avoided. Welding fumes can be fatal.
- Explosions Never weld or heat empty containers.
- Heat Hot surfaces, metal fragments and sparks can cause severe burns to unprotected skin.
- Electric shock The risk of electric shock in welding is high. All electrical hazards should be identified and addressed.
- Welding gasses Leaking gasses can cause fires and explosions. Ensure the supply is turned off on the completion of welding activities.
- Ensure personal protective equipment and clothing is provided and used eg helmet with suitable grade of lens, gloves, apron and fire resistant clothing.
- Install welding screens around the work area.
- Never attempt to connect or change welding cables before switching of mains power.
- Always install the welding unit as close as possible to the power point.
- Only use cables that are insulated throughout their entire length.
- Keep terminals clean and tight.
- Work on a well-insulated floor where possible and wear rubber-soled boots.
- Flash back arrestors MUST be fitted at each cylinder and at the hand piece.
- All gas cylinders MUST be restrained from falling.
- Do not allow any fitting of gas welding equipment to be contaminated by oil or grease.
- Do not light up using lighters or matches, use a flint lighter or piezo electric lighters.
- Commission for Occupational Safety and Health Guidance note: Gas welding safety flashback arrestors
- Guidance note: Prevention of carbon monoxide poisoning
- Welding WorkSafe web page