Health & Safety

Does anyone know what Health and Safety legislation a hack space actually has to meet? I’m being told as part of our lease (Council owned building) that we are going to have to meet the criteria laid out in the following legislation.

  • The management of health and safety at work regulations 1999
  • The provision of work equipment regulations (PUWER) 1998 regulation 4

Does this sound right? They all seem to refer to employers/employees rather than a membership organisation.

You have responsibilities to non-employees which stem from section 4 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act. You also have a duty to other workers on your premises under s3.

This isn’t as well-defined as the duty to employees but considering those regulations would be a reasonable thing to do.

from my reading last year, most of this can be distilled into a published H&S policy… that all members/public can read as part of entering the space. That and evidence of some simple operating processes (checking stuff, acting on problems).

Given it’s formalised common sense, it seems like a good thing - i.e. not to be avoided.

Welcome to read, borrow, throw sticks at Swindon’s H&S policy - it’s the last couple of pages of our membership guide:

As a spinoff from the basic premises H&S requirements, do any hackspaces have specifications for safety requirements for larger pieces of equipment such as drill presses, lathes and mills?

I’m a member of Edinburgh Hacklab (come visit us, open nights on Tuesdays!). We’ve been gifted some nice bits of workshop kit like a Colchester Bantam Mk. 1 lathe, floor-standing drill press etc. from a school that was getting demolished. We really need a safety training procedure and sign-off system for the bigger machines before we can let members use them since they are powerful and dangerous if not operated properly. Our landlords want to see something realistic in this regard before they let us use the big items, not surprisingly.

It would help if we could borrow from the experience of other British hackspaces in this regard rather than trying to come up with some set of procedures on our own and then discovering they’re not suitable or sufficient. Can anyone help us out with this?

Makespace makes a risk assessment for each piece of equipment,
including a decision about whether it needs training, and if so we
have a script or notes for the training. In every case the RA and the
training were signed off by the Directors before the relevant item was
commissioned. Each bit of kit has responsible members (‘owners’) who
either do the training or agree who is competent to do it.

You should be able to find the RAs etc on the relevant page of our
wiki for each item:


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This is very similar to how SLMS goes about it. We’re also about to implement tool control to properly control and monitor use of the really dangerous stuff.

PS: @Nojay we also have a Colchester Bantam, which has just been wired up. First Swarf should be soon :slight_smile:

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This topic has become make or break for us, as our landlord - the Innovation Centre at DeMontfort University - has sent the manager and his staff on an H & S course. They are now trying to impose Risk Assessment on us, and are threatening to limit our activities to their own working hours unless we comply with a deadline this week. There was nothing about H & S and RA in our lease, and I am not sure that we can be forced to provide RA forms to our landlord. I copy below, the only relevant parts out of our lease that I can find of our obligations to the landlord:

“3.5 To keep the interior of the Premises clean and tidy and in good decorative repair
3.6 Not to use the Premises otherwise than for purposes within Class B1 of Schedule 2 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 as amended by the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Amendment) (England) Order 2005
3.7 Not to cause any damage to the Premises or any adjoining or neighbouring property or any nuisance, injury, disturbance, inconvenience or interference to the owners or users thereof and (unless the Landlord requires otherwise) to forthwith make good any such damage so caused
3.8 Not to use the Premises in any way which is dangerous, noxious, noisy, offensive, illegal or immoral and not to allow any person to acquire any right over the Premises
3.9 Not to do or omit to do any act or thing which would or might contravene the provisions of any statute relating to the Premises or their use or invalidate in whole or in part any insurance effected in respect of the Building
3.10 To indemnify the Landlord against all liability and costs arising in any way out of any act, omission or negligence of the Tenant or any persons at the Building expressly or impliedly with the Tenant’s authority or any breach by the Tenant of the provisions of this Agreement
3.11 Not to make any alterations or additions to the Premises nor to commit any act of waste on the Premises provided that the Tenant may make non structural alterations or additions to the interior of the Premises with the prior written consent of the Landlord”

I can see as employers we might have to obey the relevant government legislation, but we have no paid staff, and can DMU act as government agents?
Any advise would be good from members who have maybe had to battle with a landlord over these sorts of issues.

Leicester Hackspace Finance Officer and ex-director

It would seem to me that Risk Assessments would be an audit-able and documented way of showing that appropriate considerations have been made to not breech these parts of your obligations to the landlord.

My understanding is that basically there’s no hard or fast rule about having to provide risk assessments, they’re purely a way of showing evidence that due care and attention has been given into the activities which you’re doing and it’s a generally and formally accepted way of demonstrating this.

For example electrical PAT testing is often scoffed at and joked about, and there’s no legal obligation to actually PAT test, however if there is damage done that results in court or legal action, and when the relevant law comes up under health and safety that asks a question similar to: “did the responsible parties or owners of the equipment give due diligence to ensure the safety of the hardware used?” if you don’t have an answer for that, you’re screwed. A suitable answer can be “a regular PAT check showed the equipment was fine at the date it was checked, and it is regularly checked” then you’re in a better position.

Similarly I would say with risk assessments. Typically they’re not complicated and if you haven’t been given a template to fill out, and you’ve asked if there’s one they’d prefer you to, then you can cover the basics yourself in a spreadsheet or form. “What is it”, “What bad things can happen?”, “How can it be misused?”, “What must happen to make sure it’s used properly and the bad doesn’t happen?”. There, risk assessment done, and you can do that for categories of equipment.

Usually there’s no sensible or good reason why risk assessments aren’t done. If something happens outside of what you have recorded, then people are only human and you’ve taken the measures needed within your abilities. Why look for reasons not to do a risk assessment? Is my rhetorical question.

Please do not fear the ‘Risk Assessment’ or Health and Safety!

Spend ten mins reading plus sub
pages, then download and fill in and
the job’s a good 'en.

Seriously, there is nothing difficult in doing a risk assessment if you
lose the capital letters and work through the five steps in a logical order.

I was involved in risk assessments all the time in my last job and it
really is not that scary. If you wish please have a go at the form and
PM it to me for comments :slight_smile:

Best regards

Thanks Spike and Stanto. At LHS we have our own rooms in the Innovation Centre, and some bookable common rooms for our meetings when they might be too big for our own space. They want RA’s for both, and also different forms depending on whether they are in or out of “normal” working hours. In the case of the external rooms, last month, I had already downloaded and filled in the template, and circulated it to the relevant member wishing to book an out-of-hours room for a regular table-top games night. However the organiser refused to put his name to such a box-ticking exercise, so it didn’t get sent in to the “management”. Here is a link to what I had edited from the original HSE template, with names deleted.

If anyone has a similar form filled in for typical (more dangerous) hackspace activities, I would love to see one.

Well that is a good start Tony.

Now you need to go through the five steps starting with “identify the
hazards” - again the HSE website is a good place to start

As Russs has mentioned up there somewhere ^^^^ you may well not have an
Employer/Employee relationship that would if trigger ‘Health and Safety
at Work act 1974’ issues - people like hackspace directors have a
responsibility for safety of the users of their facilities.