PHY3840L/6905 Building Scientific Equipment - Fall 2015

Shop Safety

Read this article first!

Working with machine tools carries inherent risks. Even skilled machinists have been known to retire with missing fingers, or worse. In working with machine tools, the potential exists for injury, loss of sight, limb, or life. While training and careful operating practices can minimize such risk, the danger of injury is always present. In some cases, such danger may even come from flying parts ejected from an adjacent machine.The use of the shop is restricted to those who agree to follow procedures that minimize the chance of injury to self and others.

Never work alone in the shop!

After completing this course, you will be allowed to work in the student shop, with a consent of your research advisor or a faculty member (must be an experimentalist) for whom you work. But working alone in the shop is strictly prohibited. During regular business hours of the main shop (7:00 AM - 3:30 PM weekdays), leave the double door to the main shop open, so that the staff members can see you and respond in case of an accident. At other times, a person who has completed this or an equivalent course on machining and knows how to turn off the machines on emergency must be present with you.

Wear saftey glasses all the time in the shop!

Everyone must wear safety glasses in the shop. Even when you are not working on a machine, you must wear them. A chip from a machine someone else is working on could fly into your eye.

Check your clothes and hair before you enter the shop!

  1. If you have long hair, tie it up and wear a net over it. If you have a long beard, also tie it up. If your hair is caught in spinning machinery, it will be pulled out if you are lucky. If you are unlucky, you will be pulled into the machine, and serious injury or asphyxiation will result.
  2. No loose clothing. Ties, scarves, loose sleeves, are prohibited.
  3. No gloves.
  4. Remove jewelry.
  5. Wear appropriate shoes. No open-toed sandals. Wear shoes that give a sure footing. If you are working with heavy objects, steel toes are recommended.

Safe conduct in the shop:

  • Be aware of what's going on around you. For example, be careful not to bump into someone while they are cutting with a band saw--they could lose a finger!
  • Concentrate on what you are doing. If you are tired, leave.
  • Don't hurry. If you catch yourself rushing, slow down.
  • Don't attempt to measure a part that is moving. Don't remove chips while parts are still moving.
  • Don't let someone talk you into doing something dangerous.


  • If you don't know how to do something--Ask!
  • Before you start the machine, study it. Know which parts move, which are stationary, and which are sharp.Double check that your work piece is securely held. Remove chuck keys and wrenches.
  • Don't leave a machine running unattended.
  • Don't rush speeds and feeds, or else you will end up damaging your part, the tools, and maybe the machine itself.
  • Listen to the machine. If something does not sound right, turn off the machine. Check for what is wrong, and fix it.
  • Clean up machines after your use. Clean your work area when done. A dirty work area is unsafe and uncomfortable to work in.
  • Be careful using compressed air to blow machine clean. This endangers people's eyes and can force dirt into machine bearings. Avoid blowing near bearings and bearing surfaces.

Originally written by previous instructors and modified by Y. Lee.

Updated: 7/14/2015