Selecting tools, equipment, techniques and processes

Each aspect of designing and making features specialist tools, which are being developed and improved all the time. Selecting the right tools and equipment for a job is vital when producing a quality product.

Important tips for selecting the most appropriate tools and equipment:

  • use Internet research and watch online instruction videos
  • access forums and blogs to read public tips on successful production
  • ask other people and visit or email specialist workplaces
  • visit the local library and research techniques in specialist books
  • companies who manufacture the tools and equipment often have detailed instructions online for their use

Working safely is a vital part of production. Research into relevant tools, equipment and processes must include checking that they are appropriate and fit for purpose.

Health and safety

Safe use of tools and materials is vital to everyone in the chain of production. Employers have a duty of care to ensure everyone is adequately trained to use tools and equipment.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) must be worn where recommended:

A safety symbol of a man wearing goggles with instructions that eye protection must be worn and of a man wearing ear defenders instructing ear protection must be worn.

Examples of using PPE:

  • protective gloves and aprons for work with heat, eg brazing metals
  • goggles where there may be splashing or splinters, eg chemical use or using a band saw
  • chainmail gloves when cutting with a fast-moving blade
  • a thimble to offer protection from puncture wounds when sewing through thick materials by hand
  • ear protection when using or working around noisy equipment
Two men lifting at work wear goggles and ear protection.

A lot of safe working practice is common sense, such as tying hair back or tucking in loose clothing, but it is important that workers follow the rules set out by their employer:

  • machines cannot be left unattended
  • all machines need to be fitted with an isolating switch, which needs to be switched off when changes are being made, eg swapping a drill bit
  • guards and dust extraction should be fitted where possible
  • work should be clamped down when cutting to avoid the risk of movement
  • tools should be stored safely when not in use
  • signage must be in place where there may be a health and safety risk
  • electrical items need to have passed a portable appliance test (PAT) to ensure they are safe to use

Workplaces are required by law to provide risk assessments for the use of materials, chemicals and equipment. A risk assessment identifies hazards and what precautions need to be taken to minimise them.

COSHH symbols: Oxidising; Acute toxicity; Gas under pressure; Corrosive; Explosive; Flammable; Health hazard; Hazardous to the environment and Serious health hazard.

These symbols identify the various hazards that are covered by the COSHH (Consideration of Substances Hazardous to Health) regulations, eg the use and storage of corrosive liquids like acid. COSHH reports should be provided by employers for any material considered hazardous to use.