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General Shop Safety Rules

Columbia University EH&S has developed these guidelines for those who currently, or might in the future, use power tools and heavy machinery in laboratories and shops. These guidelines DO NOT serve as a replacement for formal training in lab techniques or shop safety. Only trained personnel should use shop equipment after they have been trained by their supervisor. Failure to follow proper handling precautions can result in serious injury or death.

1. Never Use a Machine If You Are NOT Trained – Always Get Training Before Operating Any Machinery.
You must attend general safety training and specific training on the machine you intend to use.  If you are unfamiliar with a particular tool or instrument, do not use it until you are properly trained on its usage.

2. Never Work Alone – Always Use “Buddy System”.
At least two adults must be in the shop when power tools are being used. You must get permission from your Supervisor for off hours and weekend work if the shop permits off hour work.

3. Never Use Machine When Impaired - Be Sober and Smart.
This includes when you are sick, too tired, stressed or hurried to work carefully or on medication that could make you drowsy.

4. Never Start Work If You Cannot Do The Job Safely- Just Don’t Do It.
There are limits to what we can build here, and how safely you can do it in hurry.

5. Never Wear Open Toe Shoes -Use Closed-Toe Shoes in the Shop.
Tools, chips and fixtures are sharp, and often hot. Shoes will help protect your feet from injury. Leather shoes are preferred when welding.

6. Never Work Without Proper Eye Protection -Always Wear Appropriate Safety Glasses or Goggles When Working or Cleaning Tools.
Prescription glasses with plastic lenses must meet ANSI Standard Z87.1 for safety.

7. Never Work With Loose Hair, Jewelry, etc. –Always Remove or Secure Anything That Might Get Caught in Moving Machinery.
Long hair, necklaces, ties, dangling ID badge, jewelry, loose clothes, watch or Rings, may get caught in tools can drag you along resulting in serious injury or death. .

8. Never Bring Hands Close to Sharp Objects – Always Keep Your Hands At a Safe Distance From Sharp Tools.
Make sure that nothing that you do will cause you to be cut.

9. Never Create a Dusty and Smoky Environment - Dust, Chemicals and Smoke Can Be Dangerous to Your Health, so Work in Well-Ventilated Areas, Minimize Contamination and Use Appropriate Protective Equipment (PPE).
Ensure the shop is well ventilated and appropriate PPE is used when working with machines.

10. Never Be Shy To Seek Help –Always AskIf You’re Unsure About The Safe Operation of a Tool or Any Aspect of a Job – Have Shop Staff Check The Tool or Work With Which You Are Unfamiliar.
Exercise common sense and clarify before starting work

11. Never Leave Your Work Area in Mess – Always Clean Up After Yourself.
Before you leave your work site all tools must be returned to the toolbox, the machine cleaned and wiped down and the floor swept. Leave 10-15 minutes for cleanup at the end of your shift.

12. Never Remove Safety Guards – They are Present For Reason
You must ensure that safety guards are in place on moving parts before you start working.

13. Never Use Gloves While Using Rotating Equipment – Remove Them Before Starting Work.
Gloves can get entangled in rotating machine parts resulting in serious injuries.

14. Never Leave Broken or Damaged Tools or Abnormal Equipment Unreported – Always Inform Your Supervisor to Remove That from Service and Get It Repaired.
Broken parts or equipment can result in serious injuries and delays. Make sure you tag the broken or damaged equipment and inform your supervisor or shop manager to get it repaired before next use.

15. Never Make any Adjustments to a Machine When it is in Operation. Before Making Adjustments Always Talk to Your Supervisor For Permission.
Make sure you are competent and have permission from your supervisor. Ensure power is off, equipment is properly locked out and safety devices are in place.