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Using a lathe

Under age

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Kenneth Deighton28/06/2019 20:08:56
67 forum posts

I have just been told that it is illegal for a person under the age of 16 to use a lathe, is this true or some one winding me up, ?.


Nick Hulme28/06/2019 20:11:07
743 forum posts
37 photos

In industry, education, or private? The answer will be different for each and will prove irrelevant here :D

Michael Gilligan28/06/2019 20:22:32
15884 forum posts
693 photos

I just had a look at the 'Axminster' course details, which might be relevant:

[quote] The minimum age is 14 years old and anyone under 16 must be accompanied by an adult for the duration of the course and must not be left unattended during class hours. If you would like to read our terms and conditions click here. [/quote]


old mart28/06/2019 20:43:03
1829 forum posts
148 photos

Back in the early sixties I used a Colchester at school, possibly starting from the age of 11. The law has changed so much since, health and safety is the watchword.

About three years ago a pair of nice young ladies from the councils health and safety visited the museum. They had no idea whatsoever about uranium, radium, thorium and tritium being present in old aircraft,and when they saw the lathe, drill and mill, they didn't have a clue. They said they would be back, but no sign of h&s since.

I put the useless chuck guard on the drill and one on the lathe with a microswitch interlock. The lathe chuck guard has been a boon as I can stop the spindle without bending my back.

Howard Lewis28/06/2019 21:10:54
3394 forum posts
2 photos

From what I read from time to time, youngsters do use machine tools, whilst supervised and instructed, usually by a grandparent. Given a safe level of supervision, I see nothing wrong in that, since it instills an interest in engineering, and practical matters at an early age.

In this way, they learn to respect machinery, which will stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives, as well as the practical skills that they acquire.

But of course, they must be taught not to trap their fingers in the door, or the HSE bogey man will have them!


SillyOldDuffer28/06/2019 22:13:08
5936 forum posts
1282 photos
Posted by old mart on 28/06/2019 20:43:03:


About three years ago a pair of nice young ladies from the councils health and safety visited the museum. They had no idea whatsoever about uranium, radium, thorium and tritium being present in old aircraft,and when they saw the lathe, drill and mill, they didn't have a clue. They said they would be back, but no sign of h&s since.


Bit of a misunderstanding there about how H&S works. Most H&S is self-regulating. H&S is the museums responsibility, and the young ladies weren't there to catch anyone out on workshop details. They they were looking for reasonable evidence (mostly paperwork) that the organisation is fulfilling it's legal responsibilities to staff, volunteers and visitors. They weren't doing a technical inspection, though they could arrange one if you wanted!

I'd be surprised to hear your museum is an irresponsible organisation, but it does happen, which is why Local Authorities check. Had the young ladies found cause for concern they have plenty of powers, including closing down the museum.


Plasma28/06/2019 22:25:12
417 forum posts
50 photos

Illegal is a poorly bird of prey. No it's not a criminal act for a 16 year old to use a lathe, that's ridiculous. Given that shotguns can be lawfully used by a 15 year old.

How on earth would it be policed? Provisional licence for machine tools and L plates.

Just use common sense and dont leave them alone, well not for too long devil

larry phelan 129/06/2019 20:34:43
769 forum posts
14 photos

I believe that as soon as some young lad shows an interest in any kind of work ,he should be encouraged.

So what if he gets a few cuts along the way, that,s par for the course.

There is no other way to learn except to "have a go" OK you point out the dangers and keep an eye on them but you cannot be there all the time ,the y must learn for themselves. Despite what people think, they are not all thick [well, some of them anyway ] so I say ,let them at it..

I built my first sawbench when I was 16,because I could not afford to buy one. Have built a few since then.

FatWelshBoy29/06/2019 20:57:52
32 forum posts
10 photos

My daughter is ten and loves helping me. She hasn't operated any machines yet but loves working out how much is left to be removed etc. Hopefully my boy, only six years old, will show an interest when he's older and will spend time in the workshop as opposed to the xbox.

Andrew Evans29/06/2019 21:31:46
321 forum posts
8 photos

Probably illegal in industry - children don't work in industrial settings in this country, for some very good reasons. Lots of schools have lathes so i doubt if it's illegal there - as long as done to the latest H&S legislation. Privately, I doubt there is any specific law, it's up to the adults to behave responsibly. I am sure there are many people under the age of 16 who use or even own a lathe at home - I know one.

Someone was winding you up.

Pete Rimmer29/06/2019 23:23:22
734 forum posts
50 photos

Of course it's not illegal. I'll-advised if not supervised perhaps but not illegal at all, unless it's in the workplace. In the workplace no child can operate any machinery where it " involves risk of accidents that cannot reasonably be recognised or avoided by young people due to their insufficient attention to safety or lack of experience or training". A manual lathe would certainly qualify for that.

john carruthers30/06/2019 08:22:26
606 forum posts
177 photos

The old tech scool I attended started everyone in the machine shop and carpentry shop at 11.

The metalwork master Charlie (Cog) Wheeler demonstrated the cutting eficiency of the bandsaw by bringing in some pigs trotters on the first day.
He said nothing, started the saw, sliced the trotters into little bits which he threw in the bin then said
"...the saw doesn't care. That could be your fingers, any of the machines in this shop WILL do that if you piss about with them".
End of H&S sermon.
There were a few scratches and minor bruises in there over the years, nothing serious, we all got worse in the corridors.

Hopper30/06/2019 08:37:32
4654 forum posts
101 photos

Yes, plenty worse on the football field than in the metalwork and woodwork shop. But somehow sports injuries, including brain damage from rugby-induced concussions without helmets, are classed as "unavoidable".

Nicholas Wheeler 130/06/2019 10:59:02
334 forum posts
19 photos
Posted by john carruthers on 30/06/2019 08:22:26:

The old tech scool I attended started everyone in the machine shop and carpentry shop at 11.

It was the same when I started at Chatham Tech in 1981. We used saws, files and polishers in the first year; were introduced to brazing and soldering in the second year; and blacksmith work(we made a trowel) in the third year. There was a similar progression in woodwork the next term, and the third term we spent doing technical drawing. If you chose engineering as O-level subject, you went straight into the machine shop. I wish I'd done that!

When they changed the name to Chatham Grammar in July 1982, none of that changed and it was still the same when I left 6 years later.

SillyOldDuffer30/06/2019 10:59:52
5936 forum posts
1282 photos
Posted by Kenneth Deighton on 28/06/2019 20:08:56:

I have just been told that it is illegal for a person under the age of 16 to use a lathe, is this true or some one winding me up, ?.


In industry that's been true for nearly a 100 years. The Employment of Young Persons, Women and Children Act, 1922, starts with:

Be it therefore enacted by the King's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows : 1.-(1) No child shall be employed in any industrial undertaking. (In England a child is under 16 years of age.)

There's a big difference between employment and training though. In private use and education I'm not aware of any specific restrictions forbidding access to lathes. However, 'Duty of Care' is strong in English Law, and life could get very uncomfortable for anyone found responsible for allowing a child to be injured by any machine tool.

Very often H&S is quoted as a reason for not allowing adventurous activities. Rollocks! H&S rarely bans anything, rather it insists that professional care be taken in hazardous situations. As this can be onerous, especially if it goes wrong, many organisations prefer not to get involved : it's easier to say no than to agree. Nonetheless, put a bit of effort in and you can race motorbikes, fly, bungee jump, make fireworks, scuba dive, go caving, and keep irritable tigers.

I don't imagine any problem with allowing a child to use a lathe provided you can show the risks were considered and reasonable precautions taken. Just don't behave like the fool who allows children to play with a chain-saw!


Jon Freeman 230/06/2019 12:08:53
10 forum posts

Back in my school days a few of us used to be allowed to spend lunch hours unsupervised in the metal work shop. The teacher thought we were sensible enough, we got to make some useful stuff and no harm came to anyone. He was taking a big risk I think for the small reward (a few of our cigs) he got, but he wanted to encourage us.

I sometimes now have junior club members invite themselves to my workshop. I welcome them and hope to encourage a new generation of model engineers, but for my own protection as much as theirs, I make it an absolute rule they will be accompanied by a responsible adult (parent, grandparent) the whole time. If using the lathe, mill, or any powered kit they will be under my constant supervision. I'm more relaxed leaving them to it with hand tools and bench work. Cuts and scrapes - hard to avoid completely learning workshop skills

Samsaranda30/06/2019 13:29:52
940 forum posts
5 photos

I was only fifteen when I built my own canoe in our garage at home and then used it unsupervised in the sea off the shore at Eastbourne and Beachy Head. At college when I was sixteen we used lathes, milling machines and shapers without an instructor hovering over us, just instructed what to do and we got on with it. You do learn from mistakes, we all make them, I remember finding out how sharp copper turnings can be, took three fingers down to the bone, made you very wary of grabbing any metal turnings on the lathe. My time in the workshop at college was invaluable in teaching me lessons which have stayed with me all through my working life.

Dave W

not done it yet30/06/2019 15:06:22
4746 forum posts
16 photos

Anyone of age 13 can drive a tractor - even carrying out agricultural operations. That would be while unsupervised. Possibly not to be ‘paid employment’ but it does not prevent family members on their own farms working in the fields.

Clearly supervision is necessary with power tools involved, but not being able to ‘train’ (or be educated) under the age of 16 would be a ridiculous situation.

I started driving tractors at about age 8, or earlier, over 60 years ago. First under some supervision by Dad but soon going solo. If I stalled the engine, I could not restart it (hand-cranked) so I was very careful. No safety cab and haymaking machines, etc, in tow were rather wider than the tractor.

At 12 years old I was, under supervision, taking a D8 Caterpillar with earth-moving scraper to and from the pit/tipping point. My brother (2 years older) was soon actually taking a cut on his own and tipping on the steep slope (but the driver had to be on the machine while tipping).

Too many secondary school students are unsafe for various reasons. I recall a file, with bare tang, being launched across the workshop, spinning as it flew, by one particular irk who clearly had a disagreement with the target student. Another incident at the same school involved a beaker (of strong acid or alkali) being thrown right across a laboratory, smashing when it hit the wall. Lots of students benefit from practical work, but it just needs the small minority to make things decidely unsafe.

Mick B130/06/2019 19:09:05
1611 forum posts
86 photos

Put the cuffs on guv'nor - it's a fair cop; I taught me gran'daughter to turn a pen body in alli at the age of 7. Dunno if I can live with the guilt...

Nick Clarke 330/06/2019 19:10:57
812 forum posts
28 photos
Posted by Mick B1 on 30/06/2019 19:09:05:

Dunno if I can live with the guilt...


I call mine the wife ……………..

Edited By Nick Clarke 3 on 30/06/2019 19:31:23

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