HSENI continually works with the various agencies associated with all stages of education in Northern Ireland. From pre-school nurseries to third level college and university education we have a role to play in ensuring the health and safety of both the student and employee populations is properly managed and enforced.

Highest risk areas

The importance of good management systems, risk analysis and incident reporting is fundamental in ensuring the health and safety of everyone involved.

Slips, trips and falls on the same level are the greatest cause of injury to employees resulting in major injuries and over three day absences. 

Stress and Musculo-Skeletal Disorders are also important issues for the workforce within the education sector.

The safe management of transport is paramount in the protection of pedestrians particularly where children and large buses/coaches are present. Sites where vehicles are parked, serviced and maintained are also high risk.

Adjustable Guarding on Sanding Machines (Vertical Belt Sanders) in Educational and Similar Establishments

British Standard, BS 4143:2014 “Health and safety for design and technology in educational and similar establishments – code of practice” advises that adjustable guarding should be provided for the abrasive belt on sanding machines so that only the minimum required for the sanding operation is exposed.

BS 4163:2014 is not a legal requirement but it does provide one means of demonstrating that reasonably practicable steps have been taken to minimise risks from the machinery, equipment processes and materials used. If not followed then other means would need to be demonstrated to minimise the risks.

What you need to do

If you have a sanding machine and it is operated in an educational or similar establishment you will need to review your existing risk assessment and control measures to ensure that reasonably practicable steps are being taken to minimise the risks from the abrasive belt. You will then need to decide whether to fit an adjustable guard to the abrasive belt or record in your risk assessment how you are minimising the risk by other equally effective means.

If you require any further information on this topic you can contact HSENI by email:

HSE eBulletins


Key legislation

Please note that these links are to the original legislation, visitors should verify for themselves whether legislation is in force or whether it has been amended or replaced by subsequent legislation.