Shop Safety

Safety & Health Manual – Table of Contents

  1. UT Policies on Safety and Health
  2. General Safety
  3. Safety Suggestions and Hazard Reporting
  4. Office Safety
  5. Safety and Health Inspections
  6. Motor Vehicle Safety
  7. Fire/Life Safety
  8. Electrical Safety
  9. Shop Safety
  10. Personal Protective Equipment & Respiratory Protection Program
  11. Confined Spaces


The following sections provide general guidelines and requirements for shop safety. This chapter covers the following topics:

General Shop Safety

The hazards associated with shop work require special safety considerations. Whether you work in a metal shop, wood shop, automotive shop, glass shop, or electrical shop, the potential hazards for personal injury are numerous. This chapter highlights essential safety information for working in a UTIA shop. Refer to other chapters in this manual, including General SafetyElectrical Safety and Fire/Life Safety for more information on handling many shop situations.

The linked table highlights common shop hazards.

Personal Protection

There are several measures you must take to protect yourself from shop hazards. For example, do not wear the following when working around machinery:

  • Loose fitting clothing
  • Neckties
  • Jewelry

If you must wear a long sleeved shirt, be sure the sleeves are rolled down and buttoned. Snug fitting clothes and safety shoes are essential safety equipment in the shop.

Make certain that long hair is not loose, but is pulled back away from equipment.

Always wear safety glasses with side shields when working with shop equipment. Additional protection using goggles or face shields may be necessary for the following types of work:

  • Grinding, chipping, sandblasting
  • Welding

Wear suitable gloves, preferably leather, when working with the following: 

  • Scrap metal or wood
  • Sharp-edged stock
  • Unfinished lumber

Refer to the Personal Protective Equipment chapter in this manual for more information.

Job Safety

Before beginning work in a shop, be sure you are authorized to perform the work to be done and inspect your tools and equipment. If a procedure is potentially hazardous to others in the area, warn fellow workers accordingly. Use warning signs or barriers, as necessary.

Notify your supervisor/professor if you notice any unsafe conditions such as the following:  

  • Defective tools or equipment
  • Improperly guarded machines
  • Oil, gas, or other leaks

Inform other employees if you see an unsafe work practice; however, be careful not to distract a person who is working with power tools.

Safety Guidelines

Follow these guidelines for general shop safety:

  1. Know the hazards associated with your work. Be sure you are fully educated on the proper use and operation of any tool before beginning a job
  2. Always wear appropriate safety gear and protective clothing.
  3. Wear nitrile gloves when cleaning with degreasers or ferric chloride (latex gloves do not provide adequate protection.)
  4. Ensure that there is adequate ventilation to prevent exposure from vapors of glues, lacquers, paints, and from dust and fumes.
  5. Maintain good housekeeping standards.

Keep the work area free from slipping/tripping hazards (oil, cords, debris, etc.).

Clean all spills immediately.

Remove sawdust, wood chips, and metal chips regularly.

It is recommended that electrical cords pull down from an overhead pulley rather than lying on the floor.

  1. Leave tool and equipment guards in place.
  2. Know where fire extinguishers are located and how to use them.
  3. Make sure all tools and equipment are properly grounded and that cords are in good condition. 

Double-insulated tools or those with three-wire cords are essential for safety
Use extension cords that are large enough for the load and distance  

  1. Secure all compressed gas cylinders. Never use compressed gas to clean clothing or skin.
  2. Always use flashback arresters on cutting/welding torches.
  3. Take precautions against heat stroke and heat exhaustion.
  4. Wear infrared safety goggles when appropriate.

Hand Tools

Hand tools are non-powered tools. They include axes, wrenches, hammers, chisels, screw drivers, and other hand-operated mechanisms. Even though hand tool injuries tend to be less severe than power tool injuries, hand tool injuries are more common. Because people take everyday hand tools for granted, simple precautions for safety are easily forgotten.  

The most common hand tool accidents are caused by the following:   

  • Failure to use the right tool
  • Failure to use a tool correctly
  • Failure to keep edged tools sharp
  • Failure to replace or repair a defective tool
  • Failure to safely store tools  

IMPORTANT: Use the right tool for the job to complete a job safely, quickly, and efficiently.  Follow these guidelines for general hand tool safety:   

  1. Wear safety glasses whenever you hammer or cut, especially when working with surfaces that chip or splinter.
  2. Do not use a screwdriver as a chisel. The tool can slip and cause a deep puncture wound.
  3. Do not use a chisel as a screwdriver. The tip of the chisel may break and cause an injury.
  4. Do not use a knife as a screwdriver. The blade can snap and cause an injury.
  5. Never carry a screwdriver or chisel in your pocket. If you fall, the tool could cause a serious injury. Instead, use a tool belt.
  6. Replace loose, splintered, or cracked handles. Loose hammer, axe, or maul heads can fly off defective handles.
  7. Use the proper wrench to tighten or loosen nuts. Pliers can chew the corners off a nut.
  8. When using a chisel, always chip or cut away from yourself.
  9. Do not use a wrench if the jaws are sprung.
  10. Do not use impact tools, such as chisels, wedges, or drift punches if their heads are mushroom shaped. The heads may shatter upon impact.
  11. Direct saw blades, knives, and other tools away from aisle areas and other employees.
  12. Keep knives and scissors sharp. Dull tools are more dangerous than sharp tools.
  13. Iron and steel hand tools may cause sparks, which are hazardous around flammable substances. Use spark-resistant tools made from brass, plastic, aluminum, or wood when working around flammable hazards.

Improper tool storage is responsible for many shop accidents. Follow these guidelines to ensure proper tool storage:  

  1. Have a specific place for each tool.
  2. Do not place unguarded cutting tools in a drawer. Many hand injuries are caused by rummaging through drawers that contain a jumbled assortment of sharp-edged tools.
  3. Store knives or chisels in their scabbards.
  4. Hang saws with the blades away from someone’s reach.
  5. Provide sturdy hooks to hang tools on.
  6. Store heavy tools, such as axes and sledges, with the heavy end down.

Power Tools

Power tools can be extremely dangerous if they are used improperly. Each year, thousands of people are injured or killed by power tool accidents. Common accidents associated with power tools include abrasions, cuts, lacerations, amputations, burns, electrocution, and broken bones. These accidents are often caused by the following:

  • Touching the cutting, drilling, or grinding components
  • Getting caught in moving parts
  • Suffering electrical shock due to improper grounding, equipment defects, or operator misuse
  • Being struck by particles that normally eject during operation
  • Touching hot tools or workpieces
  • Falling in the work area
  • Being struck by falling tools  

When working around power tools, you must wear personal protective equipment and avoid wearing loose clothing or jewelry that could catch in moving machinery. In addition to general shop guidelines, follow these guidelines for working with power tools: 

  1. Use the correct tool for the job. Do not use a tool or an attachment for something it was not designed to do.
  2. Select the correct bit, blade, cutter, or grinder wheel for the material at hand. This precaution will reduce the chance for an accident and improve the quality of your work.
  3. Keep all guards in place. Cover exposed belts, pulleys, gears, and shafts that could cause injury.
  4. Always operate tools at the correct speed for the job at hand. Working too slowly can cause an accident just as easily as working too fast.
  5. Watch your work when operating power tools. Stop working if something distracts you.
  6. Do not rely on strength to perform an operation. The correct tool, blade, and method should not require excessive force. If undue force is necessary, you may be using the wrong tool or have a dull blade.
  7. Before clearing jams or blockages on power tools, disconnect from power source. Do not use your hand to clear jams or blockages, use an appropriate tool.
  8. Never reach over equipment while it is running.
  9. Never disable or tamper with safety releases or other automatic switches.
  10. When the chance for operator injury is great, use a push stick to move material through a machine.
  11. Disconnect power tools before performing maintenance or changing components.
  12. Keep a firm grip on portable power tools. These tools tend to “get away” from operators and can be difficult to control.
  13. Never leave chuck key in chuck.
  14. Keep bystanders away from moving machinery.
  15. Do not operate power tools when you are sick, fatigued, or taking strong medication.
  16. When possible, secure work pieces with a clamp or vise to free the hands and minimize the chance of injury. Use a jig for pieces that are unstable or do not lie flat.


Moving machine parts must be safeguarded to protect operators from serious injury. Belts, gears, shafts, pulleys, fly wheels, chains, and other moving parts must be guarded if there is a chance they could contact an individual.

As mentioned before, the hazards associated with moving machinery can be deadly. Hazardous areas that must be guarded include the following:

  1. Point of operation. Area where the machine either cut bends, molds, or forms the material.
  2. Pinch/nip point. Area where moving machine parts can trap, pinch, or crush body parts (e.g., roller feeds, intermeshing gears, etc.)
  3. Sharp edges. 

There are three types of barrier guards that protect people from moving machinery. They consist of the following: 

  • Fixed guards
  • Interlocked guards
  • Adjustable guards 

A fixed guard is a permanent machine part that completely encases potential hazards. Fixed guards provide maximum operator protection.

Interlock guards are connected to a machine’s power source. If the guard is opened or removed, the machine automatically disengages. Interlocking guards are often preferable because they provide adequate protection to the operator, but they also allow easy machine maintenance. This is ideal for problems such as jams.

Self-adjusting guards change their position to allow materials to pass through the moving components of a power tool. These guards accommodate various types of materials, but they provide less protection to the operator.

IMPORTANT: Guards must be in place. If a guard is removed to perform maintenance or repairs, follow lockout/tagout procedures. Replace the guard after repairs are completed. Do not disable or move machine guards for any reason. If you notice that a guard is missing or damaged, contact your supervisor and have the guard replaced or repaired before beginning work.

NOTE: Hand-held power tools typically have less guarding in place than stationary power tools. Use extreme caution when working with hand-held power tools and always wear a face shield.

Tool Specific Safety Guidelines

In addition to the safety suggestions for general power tool usage, there are specific safety requirements for each type of tool. The following sections cover safety guidelines for these types of tools:

Welding and Cutting

Welding and cutting are two forms of hot metal work that require special safety considerations. Unless they are done in a designated shop area, welding and cutting are strictly prohibited without proper authorization.

Before conducting welding or cutting operations, inspect your equipment for the following:

  1. Welding leads must be completely insulated and in good condition.
  2. Cutting tools must be leak-free and equipped with proper fittings, gauges, regulators, and flashback devices.
  3. Oxygen and acetylene tanks must be secured in a safe place.

In addition, follow these guidelines for most welding and cutting procedures:

  1. Conduct welding and cutting operations in a designated area free from flammable materials. When welding or cutting is necessary in an undesignated or hazardous area, have someone nearby act as a fire attendant.
  2. Periodically check welding and cutting areas for combustible atmospheres.
  3. Take care to prevent sparks from starting a fire.
  4. Remove unused gas cylinders from the welding and cutting area.
  5. Keep hoses out of doorways and away from other people. A flattened hose can cause a flashback.
  6. Mark hot metal with a sign or other warning when welding or cutting operations are complete.

Welding Guidelines

Cutting Guidelines