Health and Safety Policy Drafting

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Notes on Health and safety See also: Fire Safety Policy Drafting, First Aid Policy Drafting, General Risk Assessments, Equipment Activity Material Risk Assessments, Electrical Safety

Essentially we need a written Health and Safety policy, a written fire policy, and a written first aid policy. These will be formal documents approved by the board of Makespace Cambridge Ltd but can be public and created in a collaborative style :) The policies then need to be followed and there might be signs around the space, or things written in the Rules, which form part of the policies. The Health and Safety policy describes how we handle various risks, and alongside it we will have a set of Risk Assessments. A risk assessment isn't a big scary thing: it's just a way of setting out: (1) what's the worst that could happen, (2) how likely is it to happen, (3) What are we going to do about it. An example might be: (1) someone could trip and injure themselves on this uneven floor; (2) it's reasonably likely because the floor is uneven and it's a walkway; (3) we will use black and yellow tape to mark the uneven patch so people spot it. Each of the 3 policies will include named individuals who are responsible for certain things. These might be the directors of the Makespace company (on whose necks this all is) but they may at some point feel able to delegate some or all of the responsibility.

  • Although we aren't an employer directly right now, our insurance covers employees and volunteers as the same thing, and as such we expect to follow workplace-style practices in Makespace.
  • It may seem odd that things you can do at home without turning a hair aren't possible in the space. That's because the space isn't your home - this is significant - it's a public space and/or a workplace (effectively) and so extra guidance applies.
  • We'll have first versions of the 3 policies for "now", and new versions for when we are open, as the risks change then.
  • We'll be putting up the HSE (health and safety executive) poster about workplace safety. most of it won't really apply - because we aren't actually employees - but it's a requirement. Note that we're a limited company, not an informal group.
  • Each new activity, or equipment item, or material, will need a risk assessment. most of these will be written down but some might be quite informal. For instance, laura bringing in her laptop and charger doesn't need a written risk assessment - a visual inspection shows they are very low risk and so we don't need to worry. The worst that could happen and the likelihood of that happening are not big worries. WE can start with fewer RAs in place and add more as we go.
  • Working at height - going up a ladder - has an actual legal basis, and as such is different to other risks. We'll need to be extra careful (and we should look into what it entails)
  • The policies need to be reasonable. We don't need a written document for every tiny risk. At the same time, we can't have a blanket "you are all adults and the risks are down to you as individuals to figure out" - that's not reasonable enough :) Risk assessments are an enabler. They help us all understand that if we follow some basic things, we are good to do what we want. It's guidelines and a checklist to help you feel confident and safe. If you can look at the risk assessment for the drilling you plan to do, and see it's fine as long as you wear safety goggles, and makespace is providing goggles for you, then you know you can go ahead :)


  • does everyone who comes in have to sign something? All Founders will be signing something before they get full access to the space, and all Members will too. It will be the membership agreement (linked from makespace.org, possibly with revisions) which also requires that they abide by the posted Rules. note Rules may get updated; the membership agreement generally won't. For escorted guests (Bob, a member, brings George along) they will sign in at the door, where there will be a poster or website displaying the Rules which apply to their visit. Bob is responsible for George whilst he's in the space and has to ensure George follows the rules, otherwise there will be consequences for Bob (maybe he gets banned). For public events, we might have a guest book or not - we don't know yet. But certainly such public visitors won't be using kit except under instruction, and probably at the start of an event someone will stand up and say "here are the fire exits, don't XYZ" as normal at such events. The signing goes alongside an induction for Members. If new kit comes along that needs new induction, an existing member can't use it until they have taken the extra new induction, but of course they can be in the space near it.



What are the risks in Makespace today?

  • slipping and falling; uneven floors in workshop
  • standing on desks / chairs
  • unwired 3 phase
  • heavy lifting - poster on manual handling
  • getting trapped in the corridor outside the toilet if out of hours (the soon-to-be fire door is locked at that time)
  • (if you can think of anything else, please add it here!)

Then activities we might be doing quite soon:

  • soldering
  • sewing
  • (anythign else? for these we'll aim to use template risk assessments from other makerspaces as a starting point)

Other things to think about:

  • avoiding other people using tools - if you don't know how to use it or whether it's safe for you to be close, stand back
  • people’s own projects - if there’s a risk to others, please label it. If it isn't what it looks like, label it. "Buttons are not toys!" "This is a hot air gun not a hairdryer"
  • specific risks - e.g. unlit stairs out the back (no handrail?) -- need to talk to the university about getting this sorted
  • Current signed fire exits which are not fire exits any more. Replace plastic sign on front of light boxes to say "not a fire exit"


  • Templates and guidance from HSE
  • note we can't just reuse existing ones! We do need to think and edit. Nice to add floor plans to our policy. Also want to look at existing ones from other makerspaces.


We might expect some of the policy to refer to the Safety Rules especially if we ask all visitors to read and sign to say they abide by them.