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Student Shop Safety

UTK Environmental Health & Safety Guide GS-005

The purpose of this program is to provide a basic overview of the common hazards associated with the use of hand and power tools and equipment that are found in machine shops in laboratories or otherwise, to establish fundamental shop safety rules and to outline the use of safe work practices and use of proper personal protective equipment.

Effective Date: 08/01/2012
Revision Date: 06/07/2017

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Machine shops are present in many departments and academic laboratories that are used by the faculty, staff and students. Shop equipment and tools are routinely used to complete various projects that, if not handled properly, may result in a serious injury or death. The purpose of this program is to provide a basic overview of the common hazards associated with the use of hand and power tools and equipment that are found in machine shops in laboratories or otherwise, to establish fundamental shop safety rules and to outline the use of safe work practices and use of proper personal protective equipment. Each user of a machine shop is required to attend general shop safety training. However, this training is not a substitute for a machine-specific safety training that should be provided by your Shop Supervisor. Employee awareness of potential hazards combined with the following proper safety procedures can reduce accidents and injuries significantly. It is therefore, of vital importance that supervisors become familiar with those sections and standards in this policy that pertain to the operation(s) under their control. The success of this program depends upon the cooperation and support of everyone, including: students, staff, faculty and the shop supervisor.

It should be understood that these are minimum standards that apply to all University academic shops, present on all campus.  More detailed shop specific rules may be developed by Shop Supervisors and Departments, must also be followed.

This document identifies the requirements for University machine shops to operate safely and educate students on safe techniques to use the equipment.

Scope and Applicability

This guideline applies to all machine shops and other areas on University property where power tools are typically operated. These tools include, but are not limited to lathes, milling machines, table saws and drill presses.

Definitions and Abbreviations


EHS: Environmental Health and Safety

OSHA: Occupational Health and Safety Administration


Machine Shop: A workshop or area where power-driven tools are used for making, finishing, or repairing machines or machine parts. Machining processes include, but are not limited to turning, drilling, milling, shaping, planing, boring, broaching and sawing. Advanced machining techniques include electrical discharge machining (EDM), electro-chemical erosion, laser cutting, or water jet cutting to shape work pieces. These machines might have automatic capability but might not be equipped with automatic part handling or bar-feed mechanisms nor automatic tool changing systems.

Safety data sheet (SDS): Detailed information bulletin prepared by the manufacturer or importer of a chemical that describes the physical and chemical properties, physical and health hazards, routes of exposure, precautions for safe handling and use, emergency and first aid procedures, and control measures.

Roles and Responsibilities

Students, Staff, Facility (Shop Workers):

  1. Must never work alone in the shop.
  2. Must complete general shop safety training and machine-specific training before using any machine.
  • Must observe all shop safety rules in this policy when working in the machine shop.
  1. Must observe all shop-specific rules beyond the scope of this policy.
  2. Must report all injuries to a Shop Supervisor promptly, regardless of seriousness.
  3. Must promptly report unsafe conditions, actions or near-miss incidents to Shop Supervisor.

Shop Supervisors who have employees and students under their control:

  1. Shall ensure that all users of shop are familiar with general and shop-specific safety rules.
  2. Shall enforce all safety rules and make all users aware of the consequences of rule violations.
  • Shall ensure that all users of shop have attended general shop safety and machine-specific training before starting their work in the shop.
  1. Shall provide tool/equipment specific training to each user of the equipment they will be using.
  2. Must report all accidents and near-miss incidents and ensure timely correction of unsafe conditions.
  3. Must give full support to all safety procedures, activities and programs.
  • Must maintain all training records
  • Must maintain access to Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for all chemicals used in the shop.
  1. Must clearly display Shop Safety Rules signs and shop hours on the shop door.

EHS shall:

  1. Review and update this policy and training.
  2. Conduct periodic audits of various shops and provide technical assistance and consultation when requested.
  • Provide general shop training when requested
  1. Provide respirator fit testing when requested.
  2. Conduct accident investigations in shops in cases of accidents and near-miss incidents.

Departments/Responsible Units:

  1. Must ensure that adequate supervision is provided for the shop staff.
  2. Must provide adequate resources for maintenance, repairs and safe guarding equipment.
  • Must inform all shop users to follow University policy and safety rules.


Both general and machine specific shop safety training is required before students can work in the shop.  General shop training can be provided by the department or EHS and should be completed before machine specific training. Specific training should involve instructions and hands-on demonstration.


Machine Specific Training should include the following components:

  1. Description and identification of the hazards associated with a particular machine;
  2. Proper safety precautions when working with a particular machine;
  • Limitations of the tools/equipment and when and what NOT to use;
  1. Safeguards, protection they provide, and ensuring their presence before using a machine;
  2. Proper personal protective equipment and how to use it.
  3. What to do (e.g., contact supervisor, tag the machine) if a damaged guard, missing part unusual noise, etc., is noticed.
  • How to use emergency buttons and other measures, when needed.
  • Maintenance and cleaning procedures


OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.22 General requirements

OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.35. Means of Egress

OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.133. Eye and Face Protection

OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.134. Respiratory Protection

OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.135. Hand Protection

OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.136. Foot Protection

OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.178. Powered Industrial Trucks

OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.212.General Requirements for all Machines

OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.242. Hand and Power Tools and Equipment, General

OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.243. Guarding of Portable powered Tools.

OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.252. General requirements for Welding


The information provided in these guidelines is designed for educational use only and is not a substitute for specific training or experience.

The University of Tennessee Knoxville and the authors of these guidelines assume no liability for any individual’s use of or reliance upon any material contained or referenced herein. The material contained in these guidelines may not be the most current.

This material may be freely distributed for nonprofit educational use. However, if included in publications, written or electronic, attributions must be made to the author. Commercial use of this material is prohibited without express written permission from the author.


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