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Power Equipment Safety Information

Dangers of Portable Generators and Engine-Powered Machinery

Portable generators are handy when temporary or remote electricity is needed, but they can also be dangerous. Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from poisonous engine exhaust (from petrol engines), electric shock or electrocution, and fire are the key concerns to avoid when utilising a generator.

Every year, people are killed in events involving portable generators. Most occurrences involving portable generators involve CO poisoning caused by generators running indoors or in partially enclosed settings.

Carbon Monoxide Dangers
Generators can easily produce significant quantities of CO. When using a portable generator, keep in mind that you cannot smell or see CO. Even if you can't smell the exhaust fumes, you could be exposed to CO.

If you begin to feel ill, dizzy, or weak when using a generator, move to fresh air as soon as possible. DON'T WAIT. The CO emitted by generators can quickly result in total incapacity and death.

If you are experiencing severe symptoms, seek medical attention right once. Notify medical personnel that CO poisoning is suspected. If you have symptoms while inside, have someone call the fire service to establish when it is safe to re-enter the building.

To avoid CO poisoning, follow these precautions
Never use a generator indoors, including homes, garages, cellars, garden sheds, boats, tents, cabins, and other enclosed or partially covered locations, even if they are ventilated. Using fans or opening doors and windows will not prevent CO build-up in the residence.

Follow the installation instructions that came with your generator. Place the device outside, away from any doors, windows, or vents that could allow CO to enter the home.

Install battery-powered CO detectors or plug-in CO alarms with battery backup in your home, motorhome, boat, or any other area where you may meet exhaust fumes, following the manufacturer's installation instructions. CO alarms should be certified following the most recent CO alarm safety standards.

CO alarms should be tested on a regular basis, and dead batteries should be replaced.

In an enclosed space, do not utilise a portable generator. EXHAUST EXTENSIONS SHOULD NEVER BE USED because they put added strain on the existing exhaust system, causing it to fail and enabling toxic carbon monoxide to enter the living space.

Generators Converted to LPG
All LPG converted generators must be installed by a Gas Safe licenced engineer ( )

This regulation is exempted when used in the following applications, however we nevertheless recommend that it be inspected by a certified engineer. 

1. A caravan used for touring other than when hired out for a business.

2. A ship at sea

3. A vessel that does not require a national load line certificate unless it is-

Hired out for business purposes; (ii) Made available to members of the public as part of a business carried out from that vessel; or (iii) Used principally for domestic or residential reasons.

All installations should be verified and certified by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

Electrical Dangers
To avoid shock and electrocution, use these precautions:

Keep the generator dry and avoid using it in wet or rainy weather. To keep moisture at bay, place it on a dry surface beneath an open, canopy-like structure. If your hands are damp, dry them before handling the generator.

Connect appliances to the generator directly. Alternatively, utilise a heavy-duty, outdoor-rated extension cord with a wattage or amp rating at least equivalent to the sum of the connected appliance loads. Check that the cord is clear of cuts or tears and that the plug contains all three prongs, including a grounding pin.

NEVER try to power the house wiring by hooking the generator into a wall socket, which is referred to as back feeding. This is a dangerous activity that poses an electrocution risk to utility personnel and neighbours served by the same power transformer. There is also a genuine chance of someone unknowingly removing the plug, which would be live, with potentially lethal effects. It also disables several of the built-in circuit protection systems in the home.

If you connect the generator to the house wiring to power appliances, a certified electrician must install the necessary equipment in line with local electrical codes. Alternatively, inquire with your utility company to see whether a suitable power transfer switch may be installed.

Permanently placed stationary generators are better suitable for supplying backup power to the home during power outages. Even if a portable generator is correctly connected, it can get overloaded. This may result in overheating or stressing the generator components, potentially resulting in a generator failure, so utilise your household appliances in such a way that you do not overload the generator.

Fire and Explosion Risks

To prevent fires, please follow these guidelines:

Never keep generator fuel in your home. Petrol, fuel, and other flammable liquids should be stored in properly labelled, non-glass safety containers outside of dwelling areas. Keep kids away from any fuel-burning appliances, such as a natural gas water heater in the garage. Invisible vapours from the fuel can spread down the ground and be ignited by the appliance pilot light or arcs from electric switches in the appliance if the fuel is spilled or the container is not correctly sealed.  

Turn off the generator and allow it to cool before refuelling it. Petrol spilt on hot engine parts has the potential to ignite.

It is not suggested to use a petrol or LPG generator on a boat because, if there is a leak or spillage, the petrol vapour emitted by the fuel or LPG gas will accumulate at the bottom of the boat hull. Petrol vapour and LPG gas are heavier than air. The smallest spark (even flicking on a light switch) may ignite this vapour, resulting in an explosive explosion.

In no case should a portable generator be used in a moving vehicle.

How to Connect a Generator to Your Home

We would only advocate hooking up a 5kw (or greater) generator to your property.

There are various concerns that must be taken when using a generator as an alternate power supply to the mains.

It is critical that the generator be totally disconnected from the power supply. This not only prevents the generator from trying to power up the entire neighbourhood, but it also prevents it from electrocuting a utility worker trying to restore the mains supply.

A qualified electrician must install a double-pole, break-before-make changeover switch to carry out this.

For this application, the HD manual changeover switch should be utilised. This should be installed between the power metre and the building's consumer unit. The switch connects the structure to the mains supply or to a lead that can be hooked into the generator. The RCD is currently incorporated into the consumer unit in most buildings. This is set up to run from a mains supply with an earthed neutral, rather than a generator with a floating earth. To use this protective mechanism, the generator must be changed so that it is configured in the same way as the power supply.

A competent electrician can make this easy alteration by connecting the neutral terminal to the earth terminal using a link wire. This connection should be made in the plug that will be used to connect to the generator. This ensures that the generator is not tampered with when it is unplugged from the house and, as a result, stays safe.

'Do not connect to mains: Neutral-Earth link fitted' should be written on the plug.

Because the lead between the generator and the transfer switch is not protected by the RCD, it is advised that this connection be made with a steel armoured cable. Finally, a low-impedance earth spike must be put locally.

All of the generators we sell include a breaker switch or overload protection, which will trip out in the event of a direct short or if the generator is severely overloaded. However, it may not trip out if the generator is only slightly overloaded. It is critical not to overload the generator, as this will result in catastrophic damage to the generator.

It is critical that a qualified electrician installs your changeover switch and ensures that it is rated appropriately for your application.

Click on the links below for further information and to find an approved electrician near you.


CLICK HERE to find a NICEIC-approved electrical contractor near you.

High-Pressure Washers
Pressure washers powered by gasoline or diesel emit a high-pressure jet that can irritate and even penetrate the skin, potentially resulting in death. Always wear the proper protective clothes and face/eye protection. Never point the jet at a human being.

Never use a pressure washer with an engine in a confined space; carbon monoxide can kill in minutes. Be cautious of the hot exhaust. Always inspect the quality of all electrical connections while using an electric pressure washer. Electric leads and connectors should be kept dry. To help prevent electric shock, we recommend that you install an RCD on the plug.

Take no chances when using powerful machinery. If you are unsure, STOP and seek professional guidance.


Always follow the following regulations when using your woodchipper:

Never use a fuel engine inside a building or in a confined space; carbon monoxide emissions are lethal.  

Always wear full PPE, including gloves, a helmet that meets EN397, a face shield that meets EN1731, ear defenders that meet EN352, safety boots that meet EN345-1, and heavy-duty work pants and jacket.

Wear no loose-fitting clothing or anything that could get caught in the woodchipper.

Do not enter the woodchipper.

Do not touch the hot exhaust or engine parts.

Belts and blades should always be properly adjusted and maintained.

Never feed wood or branches into the machine's exit chute; this is extremely dangerous since wood can be flung from the machine at high speeds.

Check that no wires or ropes are attached to any of the materials being fed into the chipper.

When in use, keep other people and pets at least 6 metres away.

Click here for further HSE safety information. 

Log Splitters
Never use a gasoline engine inside a building or in a confined space; carbon monoxide emissions are lethal.

Always wear full PPE, including gloves, a face shield, goggles, and heavy-duty work pants and jacket.

Maintain both hands on the operational levers and keep your feet away from the splitting zone.

Do not touch the hot exhaust or engine parts.

Always wear full PPE, including gloves, a face shield, heavy-duty work trousers, and a jacket.

According to recent HSE recommendations, only use a certified air fed welding helmet.

Welding equipment should only be used by experienced users.

Top Handle Chainsaws

Top-handled chainsaws are intended specifically for tree service. They should only be used by qualified and trained personnel.

The Approved Code of Practice - PUWER986 specifies the minimal level of competence.

Selling a professional chainsaw with a top handle.
Anyone wishing to buy a top-handled chainsaw for professional use working at heights and in trees must have one of the following Certificates of Competence, such as CS30 - Chainsaw maintenance and cross cutting evaluation.

CS31 - Evaluation of small tree felling.

CS32 – Felling and processing of trees larger than 380mm.

CS38 - Climb trees and assess aerial rescue situations.

CS39 - Assess your ability to use a chainsaw while wearing a rope and harness.  

As the seller, you should check/record that you have seen the certificates/cards. Chainsaw operators are required by law to have got proper training for the type of work they do. Chainsaw operators include both salaried and self-employed individuals.

When using a chainsaw, they must also wear proper chainsaw protection clothing. Safety helmets, hearing protection, eye protection, mesh visors, upper body protection, chainsaw jackets, gloves, leg protection, and chainsaw boots are just a few examples. When working in trees, the person must additionally wear/use right tree climbing gear and ropes.

Chainsaws are potentially dangerous machines that can result in fatal or serious injuries if not used properly. Anyone who uses a chainsaw at work must have proper training and be competent in utilising a chainsaw for the type of work that they are expected to undertake.

Direct contact with a chainsaw has resulted in 5 deaths and many serious injuries in recent years (in forestry and arboriculture). These figures do not include the several different sorts of accidents that occur during felling, trimming, and other related operations. Consider what would happen if an inexperienced person were involved in an accident.

We also recommend reading

Top-handled Chainsaws HSE AFAG308.

Chainsaws at work Leaflet INDG317 (rev2) HSE Books 2012

Tree-climbing operations Leaflet AFAG401 (rev2) HSE Books 2013

Aerial tree rescue Leaflet AFAG402 (rev1) HSE Books 2013

Mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs) for tree work Leaflet AFAG403 (rev1) HSE Books 2013

Tree work guidance

First aid at work: Your questions answered Leaflet INDG214 (rev1)

HSE Books 2009  Safety signs and signals. The Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996. Guidance on Regulations L64 (Second edition) HSE Books 2009

Noise: Don’t lose your hearing! INDG363(rev2) HSE Books 2012

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