Although Men’s Sheds are not classed as places of work and are not bound by legislation, such as the UK Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) and the Irish Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act (2005), your Shed still has a duty of care to look after the health and wellbeing of its members.

Your Shed might have equipment and machinery that could cause injury to members. You might also have members who are more vulnerable to injury, especially if they have limited ability or existing health issues.

To ensure the health safety of all members there are a number of things to consider:

  • Fire safety – including fire alarms, fire extinguishers, clear exits, assembly point
  • Safety of machinery/ equipment – including PAT testing, emergency stop buttons, regular maintenance, handling flammable liquids, risk assessments
  • Safety of premises – including risks and hazards, building regulations/ inspections, electrics, signage, tidying up
  • Training – including safety inductions, use of machines/ equipment, keeping individual records
  • Supervision (of those using machinery/ equipment)
  • Personal protection (safety goggles, gloves, dust extraction, accident book)
  • Insurance and liability (are you adequately covered in the case of an accident?)
  • Recording of personal details – including emergency contacts, medical details, factors that may increase individual risk
  • Cleanliness/ Hygiene – including keeping shared areas clean and the use of anti-bacterial products (i.e. disinfecting toilets)

As there are a lot of factors to think about, it can be helpful to have assigned Shedders who are in charge of regularly overseeing health and safety in your Shed. You also need to think about ways to get your members to adhere to health and safety rules. Some members may attend your Shed to have fun and escape rules and regulations, so you might have to think creatively to get them on board. More detailed information on on-going health and safety can be found in Part 2 of the toolkit.

To ensure that you have considered all aspects of health and safety, it might be useful to visit a fully operational Shed and ask for their advice. Useful links to online advice can also be found on national health and safety webpages, listed in the resources section at the back of the toolkit. You can also contact your national Men’s Shed Association for guidance.