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Health & Safety Frequently Asked Questions

The safety and wellbeing of both staff and pupils is paramount within Design and Technology, health and safety plays a crucial role in teaching and learning and would be included under judgements made on safeguarding by Ofsted.

The following set of frequently asked questions provide advice and guidance for DT staff on key elements of safety.

These have been produced based upon questions raised by school staff, the findings from health and safety audits of DT departments and follows the guidance in BS4163:2014 and CLEAPSS.

For further information or specific advice contact:
Education Health & Safety Team
Tel: 01992 556478

Do I need a departmental Health and Safety policy?

Whilst there is no specific legal requirement for a health and safety policy for each subject area HCC recommend that DT departments adapt and adopt the model Health and safety policy from CLEAPPS L260 and ensure this is linked to the induction of new staff.

What risk assessments do I need to complete?

A risk assessment is needed for any activity in which there is a significant hazard whether carried out by pupils, teachers or technicians. Eg. Risk assessments of:

    • the teaching, preparation and storage environments;
    • the activities undertaken by colleagues and learners including those activities undertaken by technicians within preparation areas and by learners during extra-curricular activities organised by the department.

What format should these risk assessments take?

Rather than produce risk assessments on specific forms risk reduction is best achieved by incorporating risk assessments into materials normally used in teaching and annotating texts used daily ie. schemes of work, lesson plans, worksheets etc. 
In accordance with Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advice model risk assessments developed by national bodies such as those from CLEAPSS ‘Model Risk Assessments in D&T’ and BS4163:2014Health and safety for design and technology in schools and similar establishments’ are adequate as long as schools satisfy themselves that these are appropriate to their work and adapt them where necessary.

Mere possession of published generic texts is not sufficient it must be possible to evidence that these have been consulted and adapted to show a link to the specific group or individuals being taught or undertaking an operation involving risk.

How do I do this in practice?

Heads of department should review projects / courses against the model risk assessments, consider if any adaptation is required for their own local circumstances and incorporate significant findings into daily use texts.

This might involve highlighting hazard warnings and precautions, inserting cross-references in the scheme of work to BS 4163 and CLEAPSS (or other) publications.

Individual teachers should also review health and safety warnings in daily use texts again adding or adapting as necessary based upon issues such as the size of room, class size, behaviour of the class to be taught etc.

Consideration should be given as to what warnings to pass on to students (either routine or lesson specific) and whether these are incorporated in worksheets etc.

CLEAPSS L235Managing Risk Assessment in D&T’ provides detailed guidance and examples of risk assessments in daily use texts.

I have a class size in excess of 20 pupils what additional measures do I need to take?

BS 4163:2014 states that ‘in England and Wales the recommended maximum number of students in any one work area is 20 students with one competent, qualified teacher.

Risk assessments should be carried out to determine the appropriate number of students in the work area and decisions on pupil numbers have to be thought through carefully and thoroughly.

Additional controls would need to be clearly documented and put in place to mitigate potential risks where class size is >20, for example reduction in group size to a number which may be safely accommodated in the workspace, reduction in numbers undertaking practical work at any one time, increased supervision (additional DATA trained member of staff present to support colleagues during practical activities with specific groups) etc.

DATA’s (the Design and Technology Association) advice for groups engaged in designing and making is that under normal circumstances at Key Stage 3, groups up to 20 should be manageable and enable good learning experiences to take place safely. At Key Stage 4, groups of approximately 18 should be manageable and enable good learning experiences to take place safely. At post-16 level, group sizes of 16 should be manageable, the major challenge here is the complex project work and personal use that learners may make of dangerous equipment.

What maintenance records do I need to keep?

Workshop equipment
A regular programme of machine checking and maintenance should be in place, with
a maintenance log kept by the department in order to comply with the PUWER regulations. This log should not be confused with the annual inspection of mechanical and electrical safety that should be carried out on all equipment installed in a workshop for which an inspection report is issued.

The frequency of maintenance will depend on the amount of use of the equipment and the nature of the hazards and risks. CLEAPSS guide L254 ‘Health and Safety Maintenance of D&T Workshop Equipment’provides guidance on maintenance and the frequency of checks and a template equipment register and maintenance log. (see also the HCC H&S Guidance for D & T Departments)

Maintenance work should only be done by those who are competent to do the work.
In practice, school technicians normally undertake the daily, weekly and termly checks, leaving the annual checks and specific maintenance to external maintenance contractors.

CLEAPSS G79 ‘Auditing Health and Safety in a Secondary school DT department’ also includes a checklist for a health and safety audit of machinery.

Emergency stop buttons
The operation of emergency-stop buttons in workshops should be checked once every half term.

Some of the following maintenance will be organised by the school rather than the department but Heads of Department should check that planned preventative maintenance is place.

Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV)
In order to meet the COSHH regulations all LEV systems (dust and fume extraction and, where fitted, extraction from laser cutters) should be checked by a competent contractor every 14 months.
In addition to this, regular, informal checks are to be conducted in house and recorded in the log book. See other FAQ’s relating to LEV

Compressors / pressure vessels - annual inspection by competent contractor.

Gas equipment (including gas cookers, heat treatment and gas welding equipment) -annual inspection by a Gas Safety Registered contractor. (hoses and regulators replaced every 5 years)

Gas installations inspected at least every 5 years by a Gas Safety Registered contractor.

Fixed electrical installations should be inspected at least every 5 years by a competent contractor.

Portable electrical appliances should be tested and inspected annually (PAT Testing) by a competent person.

What training is required for staff in DT?

It is essential that staff are competent to undertake the tasks expected of them. DT has training standards approved by the Training and Development Agency (TDA) and published by DATA ‘Health and Safety Training Standards in Design and Technology’.

These standards provide a nationally recognised health and safety qualification which is fully compliant with the requirements of BS4163:2014. All teachers and support staff should meet these standards before they use, supervise or teach others to use the equipment, processes and tools used in D&T.

Accreditation is provided by DATA via a network of Registered Design and Technology Health and Safety Consultants (RDTHSC) contact details and areas of accreditation are available at

Re-accreditation is required on a 5 year basis and should form part of professional development for staff.

Heads of Department should keep a record of all training, appendix 2 in CLEAPPS L79 provides a template to document staff training and conduct a training needs analysis for the department. 

What does this training consist of?

The content of the units are outlined below.
Secondary - Three levels of accreditation:

Core level (SCHS) - for all trainees and teachers involved in teaching Design and Technology.

Specialist levels - relating to each of the four fields of knowledge and should be used in conjunction with the Core level. Trainees and teachers are expected to demonstrate this level if they are to teach in a specialist field of knowledge, for trainees the minimum expectation is for two of the four specialist areas to be covered.
- Food Technology (SFHS)
- Resistant Materials (SMHS)
- Systems and Control (SSHS)
- Textile Technology (STHS)

For accreditation a portfolio of evidence must be assembled, the range of evidence required is detailed in DATA H&S training standards in DT 2013.

Training would be undertaken by DATA accredited and experienced staff and then signed off for accreditation by a RDTHSC.

Reaccreditation for both the Secondary Core and Specialist Level Standards will be based on evidence of a personal H&S portfolio, checked and countersigned within the school.

Re-accreditation would be based on relevant refresher training by an RDTHSC (normally of 4-6 hrs duration and workshop based), covering all of the above and ensuring that competency has been maintained with the following high risk machinery

    • Wood sawing machines (S1HS)
    • Centre lathe for metal cutting(S2HS)
    • Casting non –ferrous metals(S3HS)
    • Metal arc welding(S4HS)
    • Oxy-acetylene welding & cutting(S5HS)
    • Milling machines & machining centre(S6HS)
    • Wood turning lathe(S7HS)
    • Planer/ thicknesser machine(S8HS)
    • Portable power tools (S9HS)
    • Grinding and sharpening (S10HS)
    • There is now also Health and safety training for SITE STAFF available to demonstrate competency in the safe and correct use of tools and equipment in the workplace and this.

    • H&S for Site Staff using Portable Power Tools (S11HS)


 Full details of accreditation / reaccreditation system are available via DATA

Do I need to have any documentation relating to the chemicals used within the department?

An up to date stocklist of chemicals used in the department should be maintained, a blank chemical substance inventory is available on the grid.

This list supports risk assessment procedures in the department. CLEAPSS ‘Model risk assessments for DT’ includes assessments for adhesives, paints, etching, cutting oils, soldering fluxes etc. and fume /dust produced from processes.

As with all model risk assessments schools should satisfy themselves that these are appropriate to their work and adapt them where necessary.

Where the department has substances which are not covered by these model assessments specific assessments should be undertaken.

Chemical are also covered within BS4163

Should key interlocks be fitted to high risk machinery?

It is advised that high risk machinery should have the capability of being locked Off.
To prevent unauthorised use some schools do choose to fit key switches to machines, however the use of a padlock passed through the lever of an isolator is an acceptable alternative, all isolators to be marked to identify the machine they control.

Workshops should be locked / power isolated when not in use.

Why are there no perimeter emergency stops in the preparation area?

These are predominantly for classroom management and thus all workshops and teaching rooms with machines should be fitted with an emergency stop system
accessible to the teacher.

BS4163:2014 notes these requirements in the context of planing and thicknessing machines and all sawing machines and that emergency switching systems should be provided in each separate student work area.

Preparation areas for competent, trained staff use only do not require any emergency switching system and should not be affected by the emergency stop system of any other area.

The emergency stop system installed in a workshop should not negate any other safety systems fitted to machines, e.g. braking systems on hand fed wood cutting machines.

Are there any specific controls which need to be taken when cleaning a workshop?

Because wood dust has a workplace exposure limit (WEL) we are required to keep exposure to a minimum, therefore you should liaise with cleaning staff to ensure the use of a vacuum cleaner designed for collection of wood dust e.g. industrial vacuum with a HEPA filter to prevent fine dust being released into the air. Traditional methods using brushes and mops are unlikely to be suitable.

Do I need to provide respiratory protection for staff?

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should only be used as a last resort when other controls such as Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) are impractical. These should not be needed during machining operations unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Appropriate respiratory protection for staff should be provided when emptying dust containers /changing bags / cleaning filters on LEV etc. respirators to be to FFP3 Nuisance dust masks provide no protection.

What systems do I need to have in place to ensure LEV is maintained in good working order?

See also:
CLEAPSS G225 Local exhaust ventilation in DT
HSE Controlling contaminants at work- A guide to LEV (HSG258)

Heads of Department must ensure that:

    • records are held of the statutory examination and test by a competent contractor (conducted every 14 months max), this test includes a thorough visual inspection and an assessment to check the control of exposure is adequate.
    • copies of all test reports are held for at least 5 years within the dept.
    • all staff know how to use dust and fume control equipment correctly, providing instruction as necessary and documenting this for the benefit of future staff. Inadequate maintenance and checks often prevent systems from achieving maximum efficiency.

LEV systems are often designed to allow more than one collection inlet, with a system of dampers or blast gates required to close off those parts which are not in use in order to achieve adequate air flow at points of use.

Where schools have such systems it is essential operators appreciate how the controls must be used to maximise airflow. Written reminders to be provided adjacent to each inlet.

    • regular informal checks are conducted by staff and recorded in a log book, this is a requirement of the COSHH regulations and a log book should be provided by the manufacturer of the LEV. These will ensure any potential problem are identified as early as possible, CLEAPPS suggest weekly checks during term time, although for machines with heavy use daily may be appropriate.  This is particularly important for LEV for wood dust and shavings because they can become blocked.

What should these in house checks on LEV include?

A visual inspection to include:

    • Check all parts of the system for damage, wear and tear e.g. splits in flexible ducting, missing or lose bolts etc;
    • Check ducting for blockage by slivers of wood;
    • Ensure ducting is connected to machine and has not worked lose;
    • Check for overall effectiveness- look for deposits of dust in / around hoods or other parts of systems, on top of machines or horizontal surfaces near machines;
    • Check and clean inside machines for build up of dust;
    • Check filter shaking mechanism working

It is not necessary to have an in depth technical knowledge to carry out the checks.

If you have any concerns over the effectiveness of your LEV contact your competent contractor for LEV inspection.

Other checks for function
Filters to be shaken periodically to maintain efficiency, suppliers will specify an interval assuming extraction is running throughout working day, interval for such maintenance and the emptying of dust containers to be determined by departments based on use.

A methodology of measuring / checking air flow should be available e.g. hold a strip of paper/ plastic cut from a carrier bag near the inlet to see if affected by airflow.

If faults are suspected flow rate can be tested with a hot wire anemometer.

Do I need airflow indicators on the extraction system?

The HSE recommends that such indicators are provided to allow operators of any machine to ensure airflow is adequate to control dust / fumes. This is only a recommendation and not a legal requirement (although some contractors may insist otherwise!)

One way of achieving this is to install a pressure gauge (manometer) near each collection point to show LEV is working properly.

Whilst this is essential in an industrial context and may be of use in preparation areas as these are used by teaching / technician staff who will know how to monitor airflow. It may not be appropriate in pupil workshops as pupils would not have the necessary expertise to adjust blast gates.

CLEAPPS advice is that departments obtain a hot wire anemometer in order to check air flow in LEV systems in workshops (monthly during term time) and compare readings with the data from the annual inspection and test.

In preparation areas indicators should be fitted to each extraction point or, if separate extraction units are used each unit. This is more critical where the operator has to adjust a damper in order to get adequate airflow.

Important reference sources for DT departments, copies of which should be available within the department:

BS4163:2014 Health and safety for design and technology in schools and similar establishments
This British Standard has been adopted by Hertfordshire County Council, as the employer, as the code of practice to be followed by all establishments undertaking workshop or similar activities. For Academy, VA or Foundation schools the decision whether or not the standard is to be adopted as their code of practise should be made by the governing body.

CLEAPPS CD ROM D&T resources
Model Risk Assessments
G79 ‘Auditing Health and Safety in a Secondary school DT department’
L225 Local exhaust ventilation in DT
L235 Managing Risk Assessment in D&T
L254 Health and Safety Maintenance of D&T Workshop Equipment
L260 Model H&S Policy for D&T Departments

Health and Safety Training Standards in DT 2013
Risk Assessment in Secondary School DT Teaching Environments 2014

Q: Where can I find more information on Health and Safety?

A: The fourth edition of Be Safe is an excellent health and safety resource for primary DT and Science. Available from the Association for Science Education, ISBN: 978 0 86357 426 9.
ASE: Be safe Review (pdf file)
ASE: buy on-line: ISBN: 978 0 86357 426 9

Health and Safety Manual: D&T