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Working with portable workshop equipment

Electrical apparatus may present an electrocution risk, whilst exhaust gases from internal combustion engines may present a hazard to operators of motorised equipment. Portable electrical equipment must be tested as per the University of Otago testing of portable electrical equipment policy and guidelines.

Hot surfaces, high pressures, high speed moving parts, exposed blades, belt and chain drives, dust, noise and vibration are also hazards commonly associated with portable mechanical apparatus.

Managing hazards

  • When using portable electrical apparatus, ensure that the power cable does not present a trip hazard, or is placed where it may be severed. For long term use (> 2 days), more comprehensive steps should be taken to protect the cable (eg. feed from overhead, or cover).
  • When using petrol powered apparatus, be aware that carbon monoxide in the exhaust gas is a toxic gas. Petrol powered units must never be used in confined spaces or poorly ventilated areas. Poorly tuned diesel and LPG power units will also produce carbon monoxide. Any internal combustion engine powered plant must therefore be used only in well ventilated situations.
  • Where the noise emission from a power unit, or reverberation around the workplace is uncomfortable, ear protection should be worn. Hearing protection is mandatory above 85 dB(A) Leq.
  • Portable gas or electric air blowers should be carefully directed to avoid scorching, ignition or melting of adjacent materials.
  • Portable compressors must be regularly checked to ensure the integrity of the pressure vessel. They should also be fitted with condensate traps.
  • Contacts, connections and power transmission points on apparutus must be checked regularly to ensure they present no hazard to operators.
  • High pressure water jets are also hazardous and in extreme cases may cause amputation. Never direct high pressure water sprays to the head or bare skin. The aerosols generated when using such equipment may also be hazardous, particularly when cleaning hazardous material contamination, or using hot water or steam lances. Appropriate respiratory protection should be worn in such situations.

Emergency procedures

In cases of electrocution, do not approach the victim or nearby conducting material until the power source has been isolated.