Safety of workplace machinery, equipment and tools

Workplace equipment risk assessment


There are many hazards involved in the use of workplace equipment. For example:

  • Cutting equipment could cause trapping or amputation of limbs. 
  • A forklift truck could roll over. This could cause crush injuries.
  • Equipment that uses heat could cause injuries such as scalding and burns. This includes ovens, grills and welding equipment.
  • Equipment that emits very bright light could cause damage to skin or eyes. This includes lasers or sources of ultraviolet light.
  • Equipment that transmits vibrations into the hand or arm (HAV), or whole body (WBV) could cause long-term illness or disability. This includes grinding equipment and tractors.
  • Certain equipment where people have to work in confined spaces can pose a risk of asphyxiation. For example storage tanks that could develop an unbreathable atmosphere or fill up with noxious fumes. 

Download exposure to HAV guidance (PDF, 154K).

Assess the risks

Your risk assessment needs to assess the likelihood of such hazards occurring. Look at risks which occur not just during the normal operation of the equipment but also during:

  • installation
  • maintenance
  • repairs
  • breakdowns
  • servicing

Remember the law isn't just for factories, warehouses and building sites. You have responsibilities for equipment if you're running an office, shop, hotel or any business.

See health and safety risk assessment.

Everyone who uses equipment should undergo initial training before using the equipment. They should also attend regular refresher courses. You must provide them with appropriate safety equipment. You should consider whether any specific groups of users might be at risk, young people for example.

There may be additional risks due to the way in which a piece of equipment is powered or heated, such as electricity and gas. Download an electrical safety guide (PDF, 113K).