Health and Safety Guidelines
For events accessible to the public

All of the following information is available in a WORD file or a PDF file that can be downloaded via the buttons below.

This is a guide for an event intended for operation by club members and attendance by members of the public. This is a situation where those attending are generally watching the purpose of the event.


Many woodworking clubs and guilds put on displays of woodworking and in particular woodturning. To ensure the safety of the public, demonstrators and supporters, a set of guidelines is required to give clubs a checklist to ensure all goes well and nobody is hurt.


The aim of this Code of Practice is to ensure the wellbeing of spectators and demonstrators who attend live woodworking displays.

Safety Officer

If safety is to be taken seriously someone needs to take responsibility to ensure the display is well set up and safe. It is recommended that a Safety Officer be appointed who is responsible for the set- up and layout of the display and the wellbeing of the people present throughout the event. The Safety Officer should take all practical steps to ensure no one is hurt. ACC Injury Prevention Consultants in the local area can be contacted and will provide assistance if guidance is needed.

Machine Operators

Each machine operator signs a Health and Safety Declaration for this event. The organisers of the event expect operators to abide by that declaration for the duration of this event.



Initially a reconnaissance of the site is necessary to collect data on ground size, exits, existing walkways, and especially power points. Then a plan of the display should be done prior to setup. The plan should include the complete layout of the display, naming the key work areas for the demonstrators. A “roped off” area of at least 1 metre around the display needs to be incorporated in the plan. Assembly areas for spectators, that will allow safe viewing, need to be incorporated into the plan. Clear walkways to and from the display must be noted on the plan allow a safe exit in case of an emergency and also access for the public to flow round the display. Consider on the plan layout where the power points are so power leads are not lying across walkways.

Hands-on demonstrations

If the display is to include spectator “have-a-go” displays it is important to make sure only the spectator and the tutor are allowed inside the demo area at one time. This leaves the tutor to assist and not have to watch others as well, especially small children.

Points to consider

The public is “roped off” from the display area. Remember, small children can walk underneath a rope, a fence is more appropriate.
See through safety shields are put in place where machinery is working.


The Lathe

• The lathe must be in good repair. Check nothing has been damaged in transit, check alignment, binding of moving parts, wiring and security devices.
• Make sure all guards and covers are in place.
• Check that all locks on the tailstock and tool rest are tight.
• A clear perspex or wire netting shield should be installed between the lathe and the spectators.
• Have an approved earth leakage circuit breaker (ELCB) or safety transformer attached at the power source that supplies each lathe. Inspect electric cords for damage. Avoid the use of extension cords if possible.

The Operator

• The operator should not be tired or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
• The operator should be well versed in all aspects for the safe operation of the lathe, including electrical and speed controls, attachments, chucks, rests and security devices.
• The operator must wear safety goggles or safety glasses and a full-face shield when necessary.
• Loose clothing, ties, jewellery or any objects that may catch in rotating machinery should covered with a close-fitting coverall.
• Long hair should be tied back or secured under a hat or net

Operating Guidelines

• Lathe speeds – Use slower speeds for larger diameter pieces or roughing out, smaller diameters must be worked at a safe speed. The lathe should not shake or vibrate.
• If the workpiece becomes unstable or an unusual noise is noticed the machine must be stopped and the reason ascertained.
• Rotate the workpiece by hand to make sure it clears the toolrest and bed before turning the lathe on.
• Make sure that the workpiece turns freely and is firmly mounted.
• Always turn the lathe off before adjusting the tool rest
• Check workpiece for cracks, splits, checks, bark, knots and irregular shapes. Suspect pieces should be discarded.
• Always remove the toolrest before sanding operations are done.
• Wood dust can be harmful to users and spectators. It is recommended that power sanding be excluded from demonstrations and hand-held sanding be kept to a minimum. As a note, spectators are more interested in woodturning than wood sanding. Green wood turning demonstrations are by far the safest for all concerned.
• Never overreach the job, keep proper footing and balance at all times.
• Keep the work area free of clutter on the floor to provide plenty of legroom.
• Keep tools sharp.
• Remove chuck keys and adjusting wrenches. Form a habit of checking for these before switching on the lathe.
• Never leave the lathe running unattended. Turn power off. Don’t leave the lathe until it comes to a complete stop.

All the above information is available in a WORD file or a PDF file that can be downloaded via the buttons below.