There are several machine shops on UVM's campus. Machine shops come with their own unique safety hazards.

A machine shop is typically where power-driven tools are used for making, finishing, or repairing machines or machine parts.  However, at UVM, there are machine shops where machine tools are operated or where research equipment is designed and prototypes are made. Machine shops can be found in engineering, physics department and more.

Elevated Surfaces

Elevated surfaces used for storage, meeting places or other purposes such as mezzanines or loft areas, must be of an approved design and rated for load capacity.  An engineer must do the load rating and it needs to be posted in the area.

Environmental Controls

In shop environments, mechanical processes, materials and chemicals can be sources of gases, vapors and mists that drive the need for altered or enhanced environmental controls to assure air quality.  An assessment of all environmental influences within a shop area should be performed prior to using the area, on an annual basis, and any time the new materials, chemicals or mechanical processes are introduced into the working and learning environment.

Adequate lighting is also essential to shop safety and should be assessed for quantity, placement, guarding, and explosion-proof requirements.

Medical Services and First Aid

Although UVM’s proximity to emergency medical services meets basic requirements for addressing medical emergencies, the severity of some types of machine shop injuries suggests that additional resources may be in the best interest of those that use and manage machine shop areas.

Recommendations for first aid in machine shop areas include having a supervisor in that area at all times that is trained in basic first aid (classes are available through the American Red Cross), maintaining basic first aid kits monthly that have supplies only and no medication, provide training to all shop users so that they know the medical emergency protocol.


Noise in shop areas needs to be assessed and monitored for exposure levels.  The table below is taken from the OSHA standards and will serve as the guide for students as well as the requirement for faculty and staff.  Arrangements should be made with the Department of Risk Management and Safety to do an initial assessment, an annual survey, and a repeat assessment whenever new equipment that generated noise in the area is added to the shop.

Table G-16 - Permissible Noise Exposures (1)
Duration per day, hoursSound level dBA slow response
1 1/2102
1/4 or less115


Stairs and Walkways

Every flight of stairs having four or more risers needs to be equipped with standard stair railings and handrails that meet the building code based on the most recent construction or renovation requirements.  The height of handrails need to be not more than 34 inches nor less than 30 inches from upper surface of handrail to surface of tread in line with face of riser or to surface of ramp.

The floor of every building, work area, aisle, and stairway will be maintained in a clean and, so far as possible, a dry condition. Where wet processes are used, drainage will be maintained and false floors, platforms, mats, or other dry standing places should be provided where practicable.

To facilitate cleaning and risk management all walking surfaces will be kept free from protruding nails, splinters, holes, or loose boards.

Where mechanical handling equipment is used, sufficient safe clearances must be allowed for aisles, at loading docks, through doorways and wherever turns or passage must be made. Aisles and passageways will be kept clear and in good repairs, with no obstruction across or in aisles that could create a hazard.

Fire Safety & Evacuation Plans

UVM has a designated Fire Marshal within the Department of Risk Management and Safety. Information regarding fire safety, fire prevention, evacuation plans. Questions regard fire safety should be directed to the Fire Marshal.

Chemical Safety & Communication

Although at first glance a machine shop and a laboratory have little in common, when it comes to chemical safety, the two workplace areas could be considered closely related. With this in mind, the Chemical Safety is a wealth of information regarding chemical handling & storage, work with flammable & combustible materials, as well as chemical hazard recognition & risk management for materials from the time they are ordered until they are properly disposed of as hazardous waste.

While some aspects of managing chemicals in the workplace can be shared from one area to another, others are more specific to each area and need to be managed by location. The communication of chemical hazards is required in all areas where chemicals are used and must be specific to the types of chemicals and processes that are creating the hazard.

Personal Protective Equipment & Clothing

Protective equipment, including personal protective equipment for eyes, face, head, and extremities, protective clothing, respiratory devices, and protective shields and barriers, need to be provided, used, and maintained in a sanitary and reliable condition wherever it is necessary by reason of hazards of processes or environment, chemical hazards, radiological hazards, or mechanical irritants encountered in a manner capable of causing injury or impairment in the function of any part of the body through absorption, inhalation or physical contact.

Each department needs to assess shop areas in the workplace to determine what hazards are present, or are likely to be present, that necessitate the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).

The Training & Compliance Office in UVM’s Physical Plant Department has developed some excellent tools that can guide efforts in any shop environment to ensure that a safe & healthy working & learning environment is created and underpinned by compliance.

Compressed Gas & Compressed Air

The use of compressed gas and compressed air is inherent in many shop operations. UVM’s best reference for safely managing the use of these materials can be found in the lab safety compressed gases.

Electrical Safety and Lockout Tagout

Having an awareness of electrical safety is required for all faculty, staff & students to support a working and learning environment that minimized the potential for electrical injuries and fires. The Department of Risk Management & Safety, the Physical Plant Department and the UE Safety Committee worked together to compile a webpage offering safety talks on basic issues, such as general electrical safety.

When it comes to the control of hazardous energy for permanently wired equipment that requires maintenance and servicing, verses cord-powered equipment, all faculty and staff are required to be trained and in compliance with the OSHA standard for locking and tagging out hazardous energy. Physical Plant has developed UVM’s best resource for guiding departments that have the same types of exposures.

Both written program and procedure forms are available on Training and Compliance Office website.

Hand & Power Tools and Equipment

OSHA has training grants that are used for training material development. West Virginia University received one such grant.  As a result, OSHA has material developed for training on hand and power tools (PPT).

Machine Guarding

While there are many different types of machine guards, there are a few things that they all have in common. Effective guards are affixed directly to the equipment in a way that does not create any additional hazard while it protects the operator and others in the area from the physical hazards at the point of operation and along the parts of the equipment where exposure to a hazard has the potential to occur. In addition to needing effective guards, equipment also needs to be anchored so that it cannot “walk” across the surface where it is used, which could also create a hazard for the operator and others in the area.  For a complete guide to safe and effective machine guarding, see OSHA’s eTool for Machine Guarding.

Material Handling & Storage

Because the variation of materials, methods for moving them and locations for storage are so diverse across campus, the best comprehensive guide to evaluating needs departmentally and training affected faculty, staff and students is the OSHA Material Storage and Handling publication (PDF).

Welding, Cutting and Brazing

Safe work practices of welding, cutting and brazing, commonly termed hot work due to the risk for fire, are best guided collaboratively between the Fire Marshal in the Department of Risk Management & Safety and the Training and Compliance Office in Physical Plant.  Fire hazards and health hazards can be best managed by each department using the written tools found on their websites and scheduling time with the fire marshal for a consultation.


Ladder safety transcends the workplace, because this piece of equipment is used in nearly all environments both at work and at home. Taking just a few minutes to discuss ladder safety with the faculty, staff & students that are in any working and learning environment.