Shop and Maker Space Safety

Shop and maker space safety is a critical part of an accident prevention program. Employees, students and visitors may be exposed to hazardous machinery, physical hazards, hazardous materials or procedures that could result in injury.

Shops are rooms or areas where fabrication and repair activities occur, using tools and machinery that present physical hazards to occupants. Shops at the University include a broad range of uses that support teaching, research, and facility maintenance and repair. In many ways, maker spaces are like other workshops; they vary widely in their purpose and the types of equipment they have on hand. Similarly, the potential hazards reflect the equipment as well as the activities in the space.

UW departments are required to develop a health and safety plan to prevent injury and exposure to hazardous materials in their specific shops and maker spaces. It is the responsibility of the sponsoring organization and the users to ensure that that these areas and equipment are used and maintained in a safe manner.

EH&S has developed an Accident Prevention Plan that may be used by shops and maker spaces to supplement their written shop-specific plan. EH&S provides resources listed below for shops and maker spaces to help address the health and safety issues they may encounter.

Steps to develop a shop-specific accident prevention plan:

  • Develop and implement a shop-specific health and safety plan.

  • Identify a shop safety coordinator, or responsible person to provide supervision, advice, training, and enforce shop safety rules.

  • Conduct hazard and personal protective equipment (PPE) assessments.

  • Identify needs for and provide personal protective equipment (PPE).

  • Develop standard operating procedures (SOPs) for hazardous equipment, activities and substances.

  • Control access to the shop, only trained, authorized persons can use the space.

  • Develop safety rules for working alone in the shop.

  • Identify and mark hazard zones and walkways.

  • Require general shop safety training and shop specific safety training for every user before allowing access to the shop, equipment, and tools.

  • Maintain accurate inventory of hazardous substances and materials in MyChem; and providing ready access to Safety Data Sheets (SDS) in MyChem or in paper form in the shop.

  • Maintain good housekeeping.

  • Maintain tools and equipment, PPE, first aid kits and fire extinguishers so they are ready to use.

  • Conduct safety inspections at least annually to identify hazards and follow up actions; and participate with EH&S during periodic shop safety surveys.

  • Ensure equipment safety through safeguarding methods, air filters or exhaust ventilation, lockout/tagout procedures, proper securing of non-portable equipment/machinery, and regular maintenance and inspection of specialized machinery such as cranes and hoists.

  • Shops with hot work operations, such as welding and cutting with a torch, must obtain permits and implement programs to prevent fire and injury.

Report all injuries and near-misses using the Online Accident Reporting System.

What you need to know

Departments are responsible for developing and implementing health and safety plans for the individual shops and maker spaces within their organization. This includes incorporating all the plan elements described above.

  1. Use the Template Shop Safety Plan provided by EH&S.

  2. Supplement the plan with standard operating procedures for equipment such as:

      3. Share safety information on specific equipment, such as:

All personnel, students and other users of shops and maker spaces are responsible for knowing and observing the requirements of the shop health and safety plan that applies to their specific shop.

What you can do to stay safe

Employees, students and other shop users need to:

Services available

EH&S will help departments identify potential health and safety risks and provide consultation and support to improve safety procedures in their shops. Consistent with this responsibility, EH&S will also:

  • Perform periodic shop safety surveys and provide survey reports identifying safety findings
  • Provide follow up consultation and support as resources allow
  • Maintain an inventory  of shops on UW sites
  • Provide caution sign holders for shop entries
  • Perform design review of new shop facilities

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

The majority of injuries reported in Maker Spaces are from accidents related to hand tools and burns from hot 3D printer resin. Users have the responsibility to familiarize themselves with the safety features of the tools and equipment they use so they do no harm to themselves, other people or the equipment. Supervisors need to train and oversee users of their spaces.

Contact EH&S for support in designing a safe place to learn and be inventive. Other UW resources on designing a maker space are available at the DO-IT website.

More Information

Glossary

Shops are defined as a designated room or area where fabrication and repair activities occur, using tools and machinery that present physical hazards to occupants. Shops at the University include a broad range of uses that support teaching, research and facility maintenance and repair where physical hazards from tools and machinery are more prominent and would be considered hazardous to an untrained person.

Maker spaces, also known as fab labs and hacker spaces, are places to gather, exchange ideas, invent, and create. These spaces are found in libraries, dormitories, academic and other workshops, both on and off-campus. The tools and equipment often include hand tools, computers and software, and may include three dimensional (3D) printers, laser cutters, and milling machines. It is the responsibility of the sponsoring organization and the users to ensure that the spaces and equipment are used and maintained in a safe manner.