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Workshop equipment buying guide Contents

Introduction

Workbench buying guide

Workshop storage buying guide

Seating for your workshop

Flooring for your workshop

Health and safety considerations for your workshop

Advice on buying workshop equipment

Further information

Introduction to Workshop Equipment

No matter what kind of work you’re carrying out, your workshop is one of the places where you spend most of your time. Whether you’re producing, manufacturing or repairing goods, it’s crucial that your workshop is designed to suit your needs.

Often, workshops grow and evolve gradually, from humble beginnings into rooms packed with tools and equipment. However, if you haven’t carefully planned how to grow the workshop, you can find that it is cluttered, fraught with hazards and not the efficient workspace you need.

A good way to overcome this is to conduct a full audit of your workshop. Think carefully about what you use it for, the physical flow of your work and your tools. Do you have everything you needeasily to hand or are practical tools and equipment hidden behind clutter and junk?

Do you have enough space to carry out your work and store all the items you need? Can you customise your workbench and the overall space if you carry out a number of different activities?

Write it all down and, in time, you’ll have a full assessment of your current space and requirements. Consider having a full clear out; get rid of everything that is outdated or no longer in use, dispose of junk and rubbish, clear all work surfaces and store away everything you don’t use daily.

Purging the workshop of everything you no longer need will give you an idea of how much space you have to play with, and being ruthless with old tools and equipment can also help you to create a comprehensive list of items that need to be updated and replaced. There’s no point hanging on to outdated equipment; you probably no longer use it and if you do, there’s always the chance of injury if it hasn’t been appropriately maintained over the years.

Some of your equipment can be repaired and updated, but anything that has seen better days should be upgraded. Look for the best value when buying new equipment, but don’t skimp on safety or quality. Spending a little more upfront can stand you in good stead for the future.

You’ll now have a clean slate on which to build. Follow our buying guide so that you can make the best choices regarding your workbench, storage, flooring, seating and what you should be aware of regarding health & safety.

It’s important to take the time to make sure you have the best possible setup and it’s also worth investing in the right equipment. Consider ergonomics too and you’ll look after your health and wellbeing, as well as those of any staff you have working with you.

Equip4Work has everything you need to ensure your workshop is fit for purpose and is a comfortable environment in which you can carry out your work. Follow our buying guide for the best advice and if you’d like to talk over your potential purchases, our sales team would be happy to help you.

Workbench buying guide

What to look for in a workbench

Workbenches are probably the most important equipment in your workshop and are where you’ll carry out the majority of your work. Getting the right workbench to suit your needs means considering a number of factors:

Strength

Depending on the practical purpose of the workbench, you should give thought to its strength. You’ll want something that lasts; you don’t want to cut corners here and purchase something cheap, only to find that it needs to be replaced relatively quickly. Spending a little extra will ensure you get a strong workbench that will take the kind of punishment you throw at it on a daily basis. Commercial work usually needs heavy-duty, industrial strength workbenches.

Space

Think about the variety of tasks that will be performed at the workbench and consider the space you need. Will you need to have tools and equipment directly available at the workbench? Are you working with large pieces such as sheets of metal or wood? The footprint of the workspace should be large enough for technicians to have plenty of space to work, but make sure you consider how much space in the workshop the bench will take up too.

Storage

Many workbenches come with integrated storage or shelving, which is a great way of economising on space. Think about the tools and equipment that are regularly used at the bench and consider a model that will allow you to stow away the relevant items for use only at that bench; it will help you to keep the workshop more organised.

Material

Workbenches come in a variety of materials, each of which has pros and cons depending on their use. Consider the following:

Top material

WorkTop materials vary depending on your needs but this can be the most important factor in choosing workbench materials.

  • Particleboard – Consisting of small pieces of wood bonded together under pressure, particleboard is economical and is suitable for light uses. However, it is not as strong as solid wood and therefore won’t last under sustained heavy use. For easy cleaning, choose particleboard that is topped with laminate or melamine.
  • Solid wood – This is one of the strongest top materials you can buy. Solid wood will resist marring, impact and heat and usually comes in a thick maple that is resilient and will last for years.
  • Plastic Laminate – This material is durable yet affordable and is non-conductive, which is important if you are working with electric tools. They are usually coated to protect against stains and scratches.
  • Steel – For sustained, heavy work, steel is the most hard-wearing and durable of all top materials. Ideal for the heaviest of work, thanks to underside reinforcement and strong welds. Be careful not to use steel with electric appliances.
  • Anti-static – If you work with delicate electronics, the slightest discharge of static can damage them, so consider this material which prevents the build-up of static electricity.
  • Hardboard – a cheaper form of wood core, this is comprised of high-density hardboard that is highly compressed. It won’t split or crack as easily as particleboard but offers an economic option for medium-weight work.

Frame material

Workbench frames usually come in wood or steel, which are both durable and suited to most purposes.

  • Wood – Hardwearing and durable, with solid, thick legs, these are also the heaviest of frames and are best suited for permanent installation
  • Steel – The lower the gauge of the steel, the higher the material strength, so be careful to choose the correct gauge for the work being carried out.
  • Angle iron frames – These have fallen out of fashion in recent years but are still used for their strength which is similar to steel.
  • Resin – These frames are durable and resistant to breakage but they are also much lighter than wood or steel, and so are ideal for mobile workbenches.

Assembled or build it yourself?

You usually have a choice between workbenches that are delivered assembled or those that you build on delivery. The choice depends on a number of factors.

  • Delivered assembled – this usually costs a little more but you don’t have to worry about self-assembly and you can be sure that the workbenches are built securely. It saves time and manpower. However, you need to check measurements in advance to ensure there is space to get the workbench through doors and corridors and into the workshop.
  • Build yourself – usually a cheaper option but will take the time to build and you need to be sure that you follow assembly instructions to the letter to ensure safety and your warranty. However, if space to deliver the bench is at a premium, these can be a great choice as they will arrive flat packed and can easily fit through narrow doorways or cluttered spaces.

Is it customisable?

While there is a massive range of workbenches to choose from, it’s rare that a workbench is only ever used for one specific job over and over. Most workbenches will see a variety of uses over time. Not only that, but ready-made workbenches are built for generalised use.

If you have a specific requirement, or you think the workbench use will change over time, you should consider customisable workbenches.

There are two key options to choose between here: The workbench can be built-to-order, that is, the customisation happens on the retailer or manufacturer’s side, according to your specifications. The other is that you order a model that allows you to customise it yourself over time.

Which type of customisation you opt for will depend on your requirements. The latter option offers flexibility over time, while the former option means you can have a purpose-built workbench for a very specific type of work.

Hygiene

Over time, workbenches can become prone to bacterial growth which carries with it the risk of infection. Workshops are environments that are prone to microbial growth, thanks to the lack of airflow, clutter and by-products of manufacture.

In order to maintain hygiene, you should consider opting for a worktop material that has antimicrobial properties. Many of our workbenches are impregnated with Biocote™, which uses surface technology that makes materials inhospitable to bacteria, mould and other microbes, ensuring hygiene. Biocote™ is incorporated at the point of manufacture offering constant, built-in protection and is effective against MRSA, E-Coli, Streptococcus, Black Mould, Salmonella and Listeria.

Workshop storage buying guide

In order to keep a workshop fully-functional and practical, you need adequate storage. Without the appropriate storage solutions, workshops easily become cluttered. This leads to inefficiency as staff spend time searching for tools or equipment. It can also lead to major health & safety issues as cluttered workshops tend to be full of hazards.

Storage solutions are more comprehensive than you might be prepared for, so it’s worth looking back at that audit you did of the space. There are a large number of considerations you have to factor in when choosing appropriate storage, so make sure you take the time to assess what you need to store so that you purchase storage solutions that are fit for purpose and will last.

Considerations

How much space do you have?

The space available in your workshop will be governed by the equipment you need to store there, tools, workbenches and such. You also need to make sure there is enough room for employees to safely move around the space. Storage can help to de-clutter and stay organised, but it can also help you to make the most of the existing space you have.

What’s your budget?

As with most commercial purchases you make, there’s often a trade-off between budget, requirements and longevity. The most important thing is to purchase storage solutions that are practical and fit for purpose, and with some shopping around, you can find the best prices. However, you’ll also want workshop storage that lasts. It’s a false economy to buy solutions that are cheaper but only last you a year or two. Worse still, choosing poor quality storage could, in fact, become a hazard, or could result in tools or part being lost or damaged.

Wall-mounted or free standing?

There are two practical consideration here; ease of access versus space. Both types of storage solutions have their advantages and disadvantages.

  • Free-standing storage solutions mean that parts, tools and equipment will be closer to technicians so that they can access them without effort. Most come with wheels, so they can be moved around as needed, meaning they offer flexibility and the advantage of being able to be used in a variety of situations. However, depending on how they are used, free standing storage can also block routes and access around the workshop and can become a hazard, so ensure that they are practical and that staff are trained to use them.
  • Wall mounted storage is ideal for making the most of your space. Storing equipment and tools on the walls gives you back floor space that can be used for more comfortable working conditions. Wall mounted storage also allows you to organise everything in a practical way, dedicating parts of the workshop for specific items, for example. However, it can also be impractical as staff need to leave the workbench to access items.

In reality, a combination of both wall-mounted and free-standing storage usually works best.

Is hygiene important?

If the workshop is prone to microbial growth, it makes sense to choose stainless steels cupboards over wooden ones, for instance. Wood promotes the growth of bacteria and moulds, while stainless steel cupboards are much easier to treat with antibacterial cleaning products. As stainless steel is less prone to impacts or nicks and scratches, there is less room for microbes to grow, meaning it is far more hygienic than wood.

Commercial cupboards are also available with Active Coat Anti-Bacterial Coating for extra protection against bacteria, mould and other microbes.

For workshops where stringent hygiene standards apply, such as schools, hospitals, social care environments and suchlike, Biocote™ coating is ideal. It is particularly suitable for lockers where staff will change into clothing suitable for workshop work, preventing cross-contamination of different areas.

What do you need to store?

Depending on the type of work you do, you may need specific storage solutions for the purposes of safety or confidentiality.

In order to meet COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) regulations, you will need storage that prevents spillages and cross-contamination. These are often lockable, with keys given only to competent persons. They usually also have warning signs and/or are colour-coded, with information labels applied specifying what should be stored inside.

You may also need to store flammable materials and will need flame or fire-resistant storage cupboards that ensure substances stored inside are kept within safe temperatures if the workshop uses flames, fire, arc-welding tools and other sources of ignition.

It’s also worth considering any other aspects of security you might need. If you need to store sensitive or confidential documentation or items of high value, you’ll want to consider lockable storage. For added protection, you could opt for security safes with digital door locks to control access to entire areas of the workshop or secure key control cupboards to safely store keys and limit access to competent persons.

First aid storage is also something to consider. All workplaces are required by law to carry first aid kits, but commercial workshops will often require larger first aid cabinets in order to store the range of materials they might need after an accident. These can be free-standing or wall mounted, and are usually lockable to prevent unauthorised access.

Do you need to see what’s in there?

In some workshop spaces, it will be important to have visibility of items that are stored away. However, you’ll want to achieve this without compromising on security. In this case, you should consider wall-mounted storage cupboards made with reinforced doors which feature laminated safety glass that allows you to see what’s inside.

Good quality visible storage will be lockable, with a semi-concealed locking mechanism. These are usually available in a variety of configurations and are often customisable with extra shelves.

Organising small parts

If the workshop carries a lot of small parts, it’s crucial that you get your storage right. Small parts can quickly become disorganised, leading to frustration, inefficiency and worse; a bad job done. Luckily, you can purchase storage solutions designed with small parts in mind.

Storage units with trays are ideal for organising and safely storing small parts. These are often free-standing for ease of access and you can also choose units that are on wheels or castors to allow for mobility around the workshop. This means that they can always be on hand.

You can choose from shallow or deeper trays with adjustable shelves. Combination units are heavier units with a combination of cupboard space for equipment, tools or documentation and trays for small part storage.

Bin kits allow you to stack small parts trays, while louvred panel kits and racks are ideal for small parts that are regularly needed, allowing easy visibility and access. For extra organisation, you can also choose units that have coloured trays. This is ideal for setting up a colour-coded system of organisation, meaning that staff can find small parts at a glance.

Do you require lockers?

Lockers are ideal if you need your staff to change into protective clothing or uniforms to enter the workshop. They also allow them to safely secure personal belongings that they shouldn’t take into the workshop.

Lockers come in a variety of sizes, from small items storage to wardrobe lockers that allow for hanging clothing. You can also choose combination styles that allow both. Lockers should be secure, with locks and keys and, for areas where high standards of hygiene are required, choose lockers that are made with Biocote™ or ActiveCoat.

High capacity lockers are ideal for storing bulky protective clothing such as high-vis jackets, hard hats and boots. Postal lockers allow for secure distribution of mail. Disability lockers are also available, with easy access for wheelchair users. If you worked in a high-security area, wire mesh lockers are a good choice, allowing high visual security.

Storing hazardous materials

Hazardous materials storage comes in a wide variety of sizes and styles depending on the use. Flammable liquids are usually stored in bright orange-yellow cupboards with safety labels on the front to distinguish them from storage units storing non-flammable materials. They will be designed to meet COSHH requirements as well as other relevant fire safety legislations. Check the rating of the unit before purchase, as the temperatures they can withstand will vary between types and models.

Hazardous substance storage is usually in brighter yellow or bright red for heavy-duty versions and will come fitted with sump trays that are sealed to prevent spillage from one shelf to the next. This protects against dangerous spillages and cross-contamination. They are also designed in line with British Standards and HSE (Health and Safety Executive) guidelines and legal requirements.

Agrochemicals and pesticides require separate storage which is usually bright green. These are heavy duty cupboards with liquid tight sump trays and stiffened lockable doors. They also carry appropriate warning labels and come with antibacterial coatings.

Fire security storage

Fire security doesn’t only mean protection of flammable materials. Often workshops will have document storage facilities and there will be critical documents that must be protected in the event of a fire.

Fireproof safes and storage are built to withstand high temperatures and will keep your documents intact if there is a fire. There are a variety of styles to choose from, with varying degree of protection, which is usually based on a combination of temperatures and time scales, for instance, protection from fire for 30 minutes at 750 degrees.

They are double-walled and the cavity is usually filled with a fire-resistant material for added protection.

Storing tools

You need tough, durable storage systems for storing tools. You can usually choose between styles and sizes, with lipped or dished trays for making sure tools or small items don’t roll and cause injury.

Equip4Work carries a range that is coated in Active Coat, which is designed to maintain strict hygiene standards, preventing cross-contamination and preventing the spread of a number of bacterial and mould infections, including E-Coli and MRSA.

Tool panels kits are also useful; these attach directly to the wall and are customisable with hooks, allowing you to store a variety of tools visibly and with easy access. Portable tool trolleys are ideal for storing tools that are in regular use, allowing portability across the workshop, while you can purchase a range of add-ons that allow you to store tools on ladders, vacuum cleaners and more.

Combined storage and workstation solutions

A great way to use your space economically is to purchase workstations that include storage. This can range from light, medium or heavyweight workbenches with integrated shelves and storage cupboards to standing PC or laptop workstations with room for peripherals and documentation.

Computer and standing desk workstations come in a variety of styles, with overhead shelving or under desk cupboards, and are an ideal way to free up space. You can also purchase lockable cupboard workstations for storing valuables or confidential documentation.

Seating for your workshop

No doubt you’ll need some form of seating in your workshop, whether it’s an office chair to sit at the PC or rolling stools to let you take the weight off your feet while you’re working. Here’s what you need to know about buying seating for your workshop:

The importance of Ergonomics

Ergonomics is a science that studies how people interact with their environment. It’s most commonly viewed as being the ease with which people work with their surroundings and equipment and how to work in a way that promotes health and reduces harm.

When choosing work equipment, particularly desks or workstations and chairs, it’s important to consider ergonomics as of prime importance; we spend a lot of our lives at work and it’s crucial to healthy working that you get it right.

In the workplace, ergonomics is usually a balancing act. You need to ensure that your furniture is adjustable enough to allow you to work safely at your desk, but that requires a combination of factors. Most who study ergonomics agree on the following:

When seated at your desk, your legs should be bent at a 90° angle with your feet flat on the floor. Your arms should be bent at 90° at the elbow, with your hands resting lightly above the keyboard. If adjusting your chair to allow for this means that your legs sit too high off the floor, you need to prop your feet up with a footrest. Your back should be comfortably straight with no slouching, but not too straight; your spine should rest in its natural curvature.

You should also ensure that your monitor is directly in front of you so that you don’t strain your neck up or down to view it. A monitor riser can be used if necessary.

Advice on choosing a chair

When choosing a chair, you are looking for comfort and safety. That means choosing a model that is adjustable, with the more options the better. Lumbar support for the lower back, an adjustable back that can be angled as well as moved forward or backwards and a gas adjustable seat height is the minimum you need, but there are other adjustable features you can look for too.

Consider whether or not you need armrests. They can be useful for preventing tiredness or strain on your arms, but watch out that they don’t force you to sit too far from the desk. Over-reaching can cause shoulder and lower back pain.

Features to look out

Look out for chairs that allow ‘dynamic sitting’; the body isn’t designed to sit in a static position for too long and good chairs will adapt to small movements, such a slightly reclining with your body.

Wheels are important if you need to move to different parts of a workbench or desk and will prevent stretching and overreaching, while a swivel seat will also help with this. However, in some workshops, you might want to prevent chairs from moving inappropriately – some models have lockable wheels, while others are designed so that the wheels lock in place when weight is applied, meaning you can move the seat by lifting yourself up slightly.

Look also for a padded seat surface. Budget chairs can seem economical, but they usually lack adequate cushioning. Proper cushioning should be both solid and padded. Secure enough to support your weight, but not hard enough that you can feel pressure on the base of your pelvis.

Some chairs will come with an extra lumbar support, usually in the form of a removable rest. This is useful for both supporting the back and allowing airflow and preventing sweat if you work in a hot environment.

Style of chair

For many workshops, ordinary office chairs might not provide the necessary height to reach the top of workbenches. In these circumstances, draughtsman chairs are usually the best option.

Draughtsman Chairs come with a ring kit; this is a foot ring that allows the user to rest their feet even when the chair is lifted fairly high from the floor. They are usually fully adjustable with optional armrests.

However, be aware that budget draughtsman chairs will probably not be suitable for manufacturing or laboratory environments. In this situation, you will need to choose models that are made from durable materials resistant to acids and alkalis, with wipe-clean surfaces.

Materials

Chairs and seats usually come in a variety of materials. The base plastic and metals will vary according to strength and durability, but the majority of options will centre around the materials that the padding it made from. Most chairs use a surface material over a foam filling for cushioning.

Fabric – Fabric is a durable material which is hardwearing and therefore suitable for daily use. It is warm which makes it ideal for colder environments or when the chair is left unoccupied for long periods. It is also breathable, which means that in warmer environments, with less chance of sweating. Fabric is also available in a massive range of colours, meaning that many people opt for this as it allows them to choose chairs that are in keeping with the rest of the workspace or with brand colours.

Mesh fabric – This is a springy material that is very breathable allowing the air to circulate freely, so it is ideal for warm working environments. The springy quality means padding can often be entirely unnecessary, so these also make for lighter chairs.

Leather – These are the top of the range in terms of materials. Usually reserved for executive seating or high-end offices, leather is more resistant to stains than fabric, needing only a wipe down. It also has a luxurious quality. Faux leather offers many of the benefits of leather with a lower price.

Polyurethane – Poly chairs are a great choice for workshops, as they are hard wearing and highly resistant to scratching, staining and otherwise becoming damaged. The only downside for these is that they tend to be fairly hard to sit on for long periods, but are a great choice for occasional seating.

Vinyl – Vinyl chairs can be a good half way stop between fabric and polyurethane. They are usually slightly padded, so can provide comfort for longer, but the hard wearing fabric is also resistant to staining, damage, ripping and damage, more so than a fabric or mesh chair would be. The only downside if that the material is not breathable, so it can make you feel sweaty or hot after a while.

Flooring for your workshop

Workshop flooring can sometimes be an afterthought when it’s actually the literal foundation of your working space. Choosing the right type of flooring for your workshop will depend on a number of factors, so it’s worth coming up with a list of requirements. Here are some of the key things you should consider before making a purchase.

Considerations

Materials

Workshop and commercial flooring come in a wide variety of materials. Your choice will depend on what kind of work you carry out, your budget and any specialist requirements you might have.

Broadly speaking, you have a choice between tiles and sheet flooring. Within those, you have a choice of materials, from PVC and plastic to rubber mesh, wood and concrete. The most widely used and durable of these is hard-wearing PVC.

Rubber tiles allow a certain amount of give, which can be more comfortable if you spend long periods on your feet. Durable plastic or PVC is more hard wearing and this can make it easier to manoeuvre units with wheels or casters on than a rubber floor would.

Epoxy resin flooring is a fairly new technology. It can be used to create a brand-new floor or to coat an existing one. It is extremely hard wearing and because it is applied as a type of paint, the aesthetic choices are endless, meaning you can create flooring with built in walkways, directional symbols or brand markings. It is also slip-resistant, non-dusting and chemically resistant too.

Wooden flooring is rarely used in workshops, although wooden wafer board can be used to level out uneven surfaces with a shim underneath to flatten out inconsistencies. These are quite simple to install and are a good choice for quickly and cheaply applying flooring to uneven surfaces.

Concrete flooring is extremely durable and resilient and is easy to maintain. However, it is hard which means that trips and falls can be more damaging and they can be uncomfortable to stand on for long periods of time. If they are not sealed properly, they can allow moisture ingress which can lead to mould and mildew. Polished concrete is also available.

Colours

Workshop flooring comes in an array of colours, particularly if you opt for interlocking plastic or PVC tiles, or an epoxy resin coating. Concrete can be painted in a variety of colours, but it’s important to make sure the flooring is properly sealed before painting to ensure there is no moisture trapped underneath.

Sizes

Most flooring is available in a variety of sizes to suit any workshop. Vinyl sheets can be cut to specifications, as can wood. Because concrete and epoxy resin can be poured, they are suitable for any size of workshop.

Tiled solutions such as PVC or rubber can fit any size too, and also allow for a certain amount of customisation, meaning if your space grows, you don’t need to fully refloor. All you need to do is purchase more tiles and add to them.

Durability

Concrete, epoxy resin and PVC tiles are the most durable of all the materials available, but as with all floors, maintenance and upkeep are essential. Where possible ensure that your flooring reaches the edges of the room and is fully sealed.

If you are working in a wet environment, tiled mesh flooring allows liquids to drain through the holes in the surface. This prevents spillages, but it is essential that the floor beneath the tiles allows drainage of that liquid away from the material and dries fully, or you risk mildew and mould which can become a problem over time.

Most modern flooring is resistant to dropped tools and equipment and is hard wearing enough to cope with both heavy footfall and the traffic of mobile storage units across its surface on a daily basis. But for heavy industrial tasks, make sure you check the type of flooring first to ensure it will cope with heavy use.

Ease of cleaning and maintenance

Wood and concrete are the hardest to maintain and will require careful treatment as well as upkeep. Tiled mesh systems need treatment and drying out too if liquids are regularly spilt.

PVC, rubber and epoxy resin are all easy to maintain with regular cleaning. Epoxy resin is also resistant to dust, which means upkeep is far easier.

There’s no getting away from it, though; all floors need regular cleaning to make sure it lasts. Tiled flooring may be a good solution as damaged tiles can easily be replaced, and all tiles can be removed for deep cleaning on a regular basis.

Safety

Anti-skid and non-slip materials should be high on your list of priorities when purchasing flooring. In a busy workshop, it’s easy for materials and liquids to be spilt, tools and equipment to be dropped, and cables and storage to become hazards. Keep the risks down with non-slip materials.

If chances of slips and trips are high in the natural course of your work, consider rubber or softer PVC against concrete or epoxy resin, which are more unforgiving if someone should suffer a fall.

Installation

All workshop flooring will require installation of some kind. Epoxy resin and concrete should be installed by experts, while tiles, tongue and groove wood and click flooring can be installed yourself. However, check the warranty provided – some kinds of specialist floorings will require installation by a qualified person otherwise the warranty will become invalid.

One of the easiest types of floor to install is clickable tiles that lock into place with each other. The advantage of this kind is that you don’t need to empty the entire space before installation. Instead, you can clear a space, install the tiles and move the equipment back into place, then move on to another part of the room. This can be useful if you don’t want the downtime of clearing out the entire workshop during installation.

Specialist requirements

Workshop flooring is also available that is designed for specific, specialist requirements.

  • ESD Mats: If you work around delicate electronics or use electrical tools regularly, ESD flooring or individual mats can be incredibly useful and safe. They dissipate static electricity, grounding the area and making it safe for working with electronics.
  • Anti-fatigue flooring: Again, this can apply to an entire flooring material or individual mats depending on the use of a workshop. Anti-fatigue mats are cushioned and shock-absorbent, making it ideal for duties that require people to stand for long periods of time. They promote regular foot movement and can help promote blood flow and circulation.

Health and safety considerations for your workshop

Health and safety in the workshop are of primary importance. While it can often be seen as a regulatory burden, creating a safe working environment for yourself and your staff will not only save you from potential sickness absence and future litigation, it also engenders a better relationship and harmony in the workplace.

Having in place proper rules, policies and procedures for health and safety will keep staff safe and can also promote efficiency and productivity. You’d be surprised how many good health and safety practices are not only common-sense but also highly efficient ways of working.

There are both general and specific regulations and requirements you as an employer in a workshop have to be aware of, as well as specific hazards and potential accidents you should plan for and aim to avoid.

Not all environments can be completely hazard-free or accident-proof, and nor are you expected to achieve this. However, proper risk assessment and careful planning for worst-case scenarios not only makes for a safer workspace but can also limit greatly the damage caused in an accident – and can sometimes mean the difference between life and death.

Slips, trips and falls

These are some of the most common accidents in the workshop. In environments where there is a high chance of liquids being spilt, slips are often a regular occurrence. These can be avoided or minimised by use of clear signage as well as flooring that allows liquids to drain away or is made from a non-slip material.

Trips are common in areas with a lot of cabling or equipment and supplies lying about. tEnsure staff have clear procedures for tidying away equipment while in use and afterwards. It’s important that areas with traffic are regularly cleared and maintained.

Cabling can be a problem in areas with IT equipment. Ensure that cabling is gathered together with cable tidies or ties. Run cabling around the walls to avoid trip hazards or, if it must be run across the floor, use cable protector covers in bright enough colours to be easily seen.

Falls from height are the leading cause of death and serious injury in the construction and industrial fields. Full risk assessments should be carried out on all work. Where possible, avoid working from height. If this is not possible, ensure that it is carried out by competent staff who have received training, and always ensure that any scaffolding, towers or other equipment is safe, secure and suitable forthe job at hand.

Handling and storing hazardous materials

As previously mentioned, the use of hazardous materials is governed by COSHH regulations. Ensure you have a full understanding of how these apply to your business and implement all appropriate guidelines. The key things to be aware of here are:

  • Ensure that all procedures are implemented correctly and followed properly
  • Always plan ahead when working with hazardous materials, including thinking about potential hazards and what could go wrong
  • Wear appropriate PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and inspect before use. If damaged or worn, replace immediately
  • Ensure containers are all labelled properly and do not use materials that are not labelled – report these or arrange for disposal
  • Read labels and data sheets to ensure correct handling and that you understand precautions
  • Only use materials solely for their intended purpose
  • Never eat or drink while handling materials
  • Store materials appropriately and as trained, and never store incompatible materials beside one another. Ensure storage areas are clean and dry and properly ventilated
  • Maintain and regularly clean your work area. Always wash hands with soap and water after handling materials
  • Know your emergency procedures, equipment and evacuation policy. This includes knowing what to do if a colleague is injured by chemicals

Storage and use of PPE

PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is any equipment or protective clothing that will protect the user from harm or injury. This includes safety helmets, gloves, eye protectors, footwear, safety harnesses etc.

PPE should be carefully selected for the task at hand, in accordance with training and company procedures, following legislative guidelines issued by HSE (Health and Safety Executive). PPE must be stored properly in a clean, dry cupboard or locker, to ensure that it is kept in working condition.

Ensure stock of replaceable items like respirator filters are regularly re-ordered and check the PPE is being regularly used. If it isn’t, find out why. Safety signage can be used to remind staff to wear PPE. It’s also important to regularly inspect equipment and materials for damage. These should be repaired or replaced as soon as possible.

Top tips for health and safety best practice:

Workshops should always:

  • Be adequately lit
  • Be adequately ventilated
  • Have appropriate fire-fighting equipment available
  • Have clearly marked pedestrian routes
  • Have adequate hygienic washrooms
  • Have procedures for waste management including the disposal of used liquids and materials

Here are our top 5 tips for maintaining excellent health and safety standards:

1. Risk assessment

Ensure you carry out a full risk assessment of the entire workshop as well as individual work practices. Identifying possible risks can help you work out how likely and often they are to occur and find ways to limit them, or limit the harm they can cause. It is also useful for helping you to implement suitable policies and procedures and identify areas as training for employees.

2. Keep written records

You should have a health and safety policy in place, which all staff should read and sign off. You also need to have a suitable accident record in place; this will not only protect you in the event of litigation but can also help you to identify areas of improvement.

3. Routine maintenance

Don’t wait for equipment to break down or PPE to become too worn to use. Regular servicing of equipment will keep it safe and prevent higher costs of replacement. Regular inspection of PPE allows you to catch items that may need to be replaced soon, allowing you to order ahead of time. Maintenance is an ongoing duty; the easiest way to stay on top of it is to have a maintenance timetable in place.

4. Carry out regular fire and evacuation drills

While regular drills may seem like a nuisance, it’s important that everyone in your workforce knows exactly what to do in the event of a fire or evacuation. Have a clear fire safety policy, an emergency evacuation procedure and named persons who can share the responsibility for these.

5. Reduce stress

Accidents often happen when workers are overworked and under stress. Do whatever you can to keep stress levels low in your workplace. You’ll improve morale and productivity, reduce sickness absence and control levels of accidents due to exhaustion or carelessness.

Advice on buying workshop equipment

The right equipment will not only promote safety in the workplace, it will also cost you less in the long run. Choosing appropriate equipment will ensure that it is appropriate and fit for the task at hand and reduce the risk of it becoming obsolete. Good quality equipment will usually need less maintenance and repair which will reduce costs and because you need to replace it less frequently, you’ll spend less on equipment over the long term if you invest more at the beginning. Don’t be tempted to cut corners here!

Good quality equipment with up to date technologies will also ensure you remain competitive. However, you need to plan ahead properly when making large capital purchases. If you follow the suggestions, this buying guide will help, but here’s a list of tips to remember before you make your purchase.

1. Where are you now?

Make an assessment of where you and your business are right now. Are you as efficient as you want to be? Do you constantly spend money on equipment repairs? Are chances of accidents high because you don’t have the right tools for the job? Are you experiencing a growth in customer orders that your current equipment doesn’t allow you to fulfil?

Understanding your current situation can help you to plan for capital investment, particularly with regards to new equipment. Get a snapshot of the business and use that in your planning.

2. Get a fresh viewpoint

It can be hard to see the woods for the trees sometimes and when you’re caught up in the day to day running of your business, sometimes it’s impossible to take that step back and get an overview. Why not get some help?

A business consultant could help you to assess your current needs and help you make the right decisions regarding equipment purchases that will actually help your business. A cost-benefit analysis might just be the most important thing you ever do, especially if you’re considering growth.

3. Innovate

If you’re considering large-scale equipment purchases or an overhaul of the workshop, consider areas where you might be able to not just compete but actually steal a march on your rivals. Look at ways in which new technologies might help you to diversify your services, create new products that fit an emerging market or offer solutions to your customer that your competitors aren’t offering yet.

4. Shop around

Purchasing equipment should be a considered investment, not an impulse buy. Use the internet to get as much information as you can, including a variety of models and prices. Remember that a cheaper price isn’t always the best bet – you want good quality equipment with excellent warranties and no hidden costs (always check the small print).

5. Think green

There’s no better time to consider your environmental practices than when you’re purchasing new equipment. Make sure anything you buy is energy efficient which will save you money and contribute to the overall global environment. Also check out how to best dispose of old equipment in the safest way, recycling where possible.

Further information

Here at Equip4Work, we have everything you could need to start up, upgrade or diversify your workshop. Everything from workbenches and flooring to storage and safety. You’ll find upfront prices and full information and specifications on everything we have to offer.

If you’d like more help in making a purchase and sourcing the equipment you need, our sales team would be happy to help and advise. Just call us on 08444 999 222 or email at sales@equip4work.co.uk.