Workshop health & safety
Castell Safety International.
All businesses have a legal obligation to conform to the Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974, but there’s no reason why the same principles shouldn’t be applied to the home workshop. It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure the welfare of anyone who might come into contact with potentially dangerous equipment. Says Stan Ratcliffe from the consultancy firm Health and Safety Assurance Services, which performs risk assessment and advises businesses on ways to improve their work environment: ‘Whether our workshop is our business or part of our hobby, we all have a general duty of care for others who may come into our workshop, be that friends, members of a car club or interested grandchildren eager to learn.’
We visited Castell Safety International, which specialises in top-of-the-range health and safety systems, to see if the systems they design for professional workshops have an application for Diyers.
Castell was founded in 1922, during the electrification of London, when founder James Castell designed the trapped key interlock system to protect people and property from harm. All workshops contain potentially dangerous machinery and one of the simplest and cheapest ways of preventing a machine from operating – say, while it’s stripped for repair or when your attention is focused on another job – is simply to unplug it. But what if someone comes along and plugs it back in by mistake? The basic and most fundamental principle on which all of Castell’s systems operate is that for someone to gain access to a hazardous area, it must be isolated with a unique key. This can be custom designed to isolate everything from a single machine to an entire power grid, each lock requiring a different key. For such systems, it’s reassuring to know that, should a key get lost, Castell maintain records going back 90 years that can identify which key was created for a specific lock and have it remanufactured to save you having to replace the entire lock.
Although a full trapped key interlock system would be impractical for a home garage, the fundamentals can be applied to a workshop of any size, by fitting a lock to the power supply to a dangerous machine, to prevent it being stopped or started by accident. The Castell Stop-box is a lockable container into which the electrical plug of, say, a vehicle lift, lathe, pillar drill or compressor can be placed and locked shut. Only the person with the key to the box can turn the machine on and off.