Service, Inspection & Compliance Testing

Service Information

Why is it Vital to Have Report Supported Servicing?

If a pupil, technician or teacher is injured in the Design and Technology Department the Head Teacher may find themselves in court. If there is no documented evidence of servicing the machine/device involved in the accident the Head Teacher may find themselves held responsible. However, reports need to contain the relevant information and must be completed by a business or individual suitably qualified and insured to carry out such inspection and reporting.

Qualified and Insured Service Providers

RS Design and Technology are qualified, insured and very experienced in the process. We ensure, through our report supported servicing, that Schools and Colleges Design and Technology Departments are compliant with the relevant and current legislation. Our reports detail machine/device operational suitability, performance and safety, highlighting any adjustments, modifications and/or replacements that are required.

RS Design and Technology are members of the British Safety Council and the Design & Technology Association.

Powered Saw & Machinery Advice

Band saws - use by students

Q. Are students allowed to use band saws?

A. We would advise schools to use ‘BS4163:2014 Health and safety for design and technology in schools and similar establishments – Code of practice’ to adjudge whether it is appropriate to use items of machinery and equipment in school workshops.

This states that the school should decide which machinery and equipment is suitable for use by each group of students. The decision will be based on student maturity and competence, the level of supervision, and local authority/employer and national guidelines. In general:

  • Students should be trained and instructed in safe operating methods by a competent person, who has attended a recognised training course
  • Students should be assessed as mature and competent before operating the machinery, and should be continuously supervised

Bandsaws are classified as ‘high risk woodworking machinery’. Training in the use of high risk woodworking machinery should only be provided under proper supervision and a record of training should be kept. In practice, although it is possible therefore for schools to allow students to use bandsaws, the large majority of schools consider bandsaws unsuitable for use by students. Where they are used by students, use is generally restricted to either post-16 or in some cases KS4.

It should be noted that the guidance detailed opposite apply to all bandsaws, from the small table top models to the large preparatory machines used in technician areas. In deciding therefore whether to allow students to use bandsaws, the school should consider:

  • Local authority/employer guidelines
  • The size of bandsaw to be used
  • Staff competence and accreditation on the bandsaw
  • Student maturity and competence
  • Provision of a suitable training course for students
  • Keeping appropriate records of student training
  • The provision of one to one supervision whilst students are using the bandsaw
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Braking on Wood Machinery

Q. We have been told we must have braking fitted on some of our woodworking machinery. Can you advise?

A. The HSE guidance leaflet ‘PUWER 98: Retrofitting of braking to woodworking machines’, available on the HSE website,, clarifies the ruling on braking to certain classes of woodworking machinery, introduced following the updating of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) in 1998

For new woodworking machinery, the provision of an automatic brake is an essential safety requirement of the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 1992. The Regulations require that the machinery must be equipped with an automatic brake that stops the tool in a sufficiently short time (defined in CEN standards as 10 seconds or less) if there is a risk of contact with the tool while it runs down.

Because of the safety benefits that braking provides, it is also felt appropriate that the same standard is now applied to existing machines as well as new machines. The main ways of providing braking are to:

  • replace the existing unbraked motor with a braked motor;
  • fit a direct current (DC) injection braking device to the existing unbraked motor;
  • fit a power-operated mechanical brake;
  • fit a manual or foot-operated brake.

If braking is required, when must it have been completed? The relevant Approved Code of Practice laid down a timetable for certain specified classes of machine. For circular saw benches, dimension saws, powered and hand-fed cross-cut saws, single-end and double end tenoning machines and combined machines incorporating a circular saw and/or a tenoning attachment, the work had to be completed no later than 5 December 2003, i.e. 5 years after PUWER 98 came into force.

For narrow bandsaws, re-saws, vertical spindle moulding machines (unless fitted with a manual or foot operated brake), hand-fed routing machines, thicknessing machines, planing/thicknessing machines and surface planing machines,

the work had to be completed no later than 5 December 2005, i.e. 7 years after PUWER 98 came into force. For any other machine not specified above but for which the risk assessment shows braking to be necessary, the deadline was 5 December 2008, i.e. 10 years after PUWER 98 came into force. BS4163:2014 Health and safety for design and technology in schools and similar establishments – Code of practice notes these requirements in the context of planing and thicknessing machines and all sawing machines. Within Section 5.2.5 of this document it notes that emergency switching systems should be provided in each separate student work area.

Preparation areas for staff use only need not have any emergency switching system and should not be affected by the emergency stop system of any other area. Critical circuits specifically installed to remove hazards should not be controlled by the emergency stop system. 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.

This is the dilemma. Clearly if braking is fitted to these machines in workshop areas using the same circuit, the brake will not work if the power is interrupted, e.g. by an emergency stop button. Within preparation areas, this has been solved by removing the necessity for an emergency switching system. Within workshops, the braking on machines would need to be fitted therefore via a separate circuit.

In practice many schools have found the cost of installing braking too prohibitive to older machines and schools have found it more cost effective to replace the machines with new models which meet the stopping requirements.

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Circular Saws in school workshops

Q. Am I correct that a circular saw, fitted in the resistant materials room where pupils are taught, can only be operated outside of lesson time and not in the same room as the pupils?

A. In answering this question re the use of a circular saw in a resistant materials room, there is no definitive guidance in the Code of Practice, BS4163: 2014 Health and safety for design and technology in schools and similar establishments.

We would advise that the decision as to whether it is appropriate to use the circular saw in the presence of pupils in a school should be made as an integral part of the risk assessment on the safe use of that specific machine. It might indeed be practical to use the machine in some locations, where for example there is plenty of room or where for example there are barriers around the machine which creates what is considered to be a safe working environment.

However, BS4163:2014 does note that there should be sufficient space around the saw bench so that timber can be handled safely, that a risk assessment should be carried out to evaluate the likely risks to health from inhalation of wood dust, that circular sawing machines can produce noise levels about 100dB and that circular sawing machines should not be used if the user could be distracted.

All of these issues must be considered when risk assessing the appropriateness of whether the saw can be used in the presence of pupils.

In summary then, even in schools where the risk assessment concludes that it is safe to use the machine in the presence of pupils, it would seem appropriate for schools to undertake the large majority of material preparation in advance of lessons and to avoid exposing pupils to the obvious hazards that use of this machine involves. However where the risk assessment shows that it is considered safe, there may well be occasions, particularly with older students, where one would want to occasionally demonstrate the use of the machine as part of teaching and learning.

Call us now; 0845 685 0202 Further Advice

Fretsaw installation

Q. Can you advise on the installation of fretsaws in school workshops?

We would advise that the installation of power fret sawing machines in schools should be based on BS4163:2014 Health and safety for design and technology in schools and similar establishments – Code of practice, page 63 (available from the Design and Technology Association).

This recommends that:

The machine should be provided with:

  • a means of isolation, using a switch-disconnector on or adjacent to the machine, and that it is controlled by a starter incorporating overload protection and no-volt release;
  • a conveniently positioned, mushroom-headed stop button or suitable other control device that can quickly stop the machine in an emergency.

The machine should be securely fixed to the bench, or alternatively if on a stand, the stand should be securely fixed. A risk assessment should be carried out to evaluate the likely risks to health from inhalation of wood dust and any action required to prevent or control the risks.

Depending on the age of your Hegner or other make of fretsaws, these may or may not be fitted with no-volt overload switches. Some fretsaws were not fitted with these switches until fairly recently. Without a no-volt overload switch, if the power to the machine is interrupted in any way during use, for example by turning off the power to the room or through a power cut, then when the machine is re-connected it would start up again – clearly this a potentially dangerous situation.

In addition, we would advise that you should contact your local authority to ascertain the standard of installation that has been set for these machines in your LA schools. This may for example require the fitting of dust extraction, particularly if you are planning to use several of these machines at the same time.

Call us now; 0845 685 0202 Further Advice