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FABlab Safety, Use, and Procedures

The safety of students, faculty, staff, and visitors is a primary consideration in every activity.  The success of this program depends upon the cooperation and support of everyone.

In order to use the FABLAB, everyone must complete and successfully pass a safety module for each piece of equipment and be certified by the staff before operating any of the machines on their own.

General Shop Safety
The hazards associated with shop work require special safety considerations.  Whether you work with metal, wood, or any other piece of equipment the potential hazards for injury can be numerous.

In case of an emergency call 2-5666 from the lab phone, located on the desk.  The FABLAB is located in the RTC, room 1112.

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Anyone entering the FABLAB will be required to register with the FABLAB staff.

Personal Protection
There are several measures one must take to protect themselves from shop hazards.

  • Do not wear loose fitting clothing
  • Do not wear long sleeve shirts/sweaters
  • Do not wear neckties
  • No jewelry should be worn in the FABLAB
  • Make certain long hair is not loose, but pulled back away from equipment
  • Always wear safety glasses and ear protection where required, such as woodworking, welding, grinding, chiseling, or chipping

Follow these guidelines for general lab safety:
  • Each user will be required to pass a safety module which will be located on each piece of major equipment 
  • Always wear appropriate safety gear and protective clothing, including closed toes shoes
  • Eye and ear protection is required while operating any machine
  • Know where the fire extinguishers are located and how to use them
  • Never work impaired.  This also does not mean impaired by drugs or alcohol, but also from sleep deprivation
  • Know the hazards associated with your work.  Be sure you are fully educated on the proper use and operation of any tool before beginning a job.  If you cannot do a job safely in the FABLAB, don’t do it.  Think through the entire job before starting
  • If you are unsure about how to safely execute the operation of a tool, ask for help.  Have the lab technician assist, demonstrate, and observe to help you become familiar and comfortable
  • If you have not worked with a specific material before, consult with the lab technician for precautions, methods, and instructions prior to beginning work
  • Do not work in the lab if you are in a hurry, this most always ruins the work and often results in injury
  • Leave tool and equipment guards in place.  This is especially true with the table saw, ShopBot, and Torchmate
  • Before starting any machine, be sure it is set up correctly and fully operational
  • Check power cords and plugs on portable tools before using them
  • Use a brush or special tool for removing chips, shavings, and debris.  Do not use your hands to clean shavings or cuttings – they may be sharp
  • When doing heavy sanding, face masks or respirators should always be worn
  • Keep your fingers clear from the point of operation of machines by using special tools and devices such as push sticks and paddles.  Never use a rag near a moving machine
  • Keep the work area free of debris, clean spills immediately and remove all sawdust and wood chips.  Do not bring food or drink into the FABLAB
  • Clean up after yourself.  Before you leave the lab, be sure all tools are returned to their appropriate position and all the machines are clean and the floor is swept.  Always allow enough time for your cleanup procedure

Hand tools are non-powered tools.  They include wrenches, hammers, chisels, screw drivers, and other hand-operated mechanisms.  Even though hand tool injuries tend to be less severe than power tool injuries, hand tool injuries are more common.  Because people take everyday hand tools for granted, simple precautions for safety are easily forgotten.

The most common hand tool accidents are caused by the following:

  • Failure to use the correct tool for the job
  • Failure to use a tool correctly
  • Failure to keep edged tools sharp
  • Failure to replace or repair a defective tool
  • Failure to safely store tools

IMPORTANT: Use the correct tool for the job to complete a job safely, quickly, and efficiently 

Follow these guidelines for general had tool safety:

  • Wear safety glasses whenever you hammer or cut, especially when working with surfaces that chip or splinter
  • Do not use a screwdriver as a chisel.  The tool can slip and cause a deep puncture wound
  • Do not use a chisel as a screwdriver.  The tip of the chisel may break and cause an injury
  • Do not use a knife as a screwdriver.  The blade can snap and cause an injury
  • Never carry a screwdriver or chisel in your pocket.  If you fall, the tool could cause a serious injury.  Instead, use a tool belt
  • Use the proper wrench to tighten or loosen nuts.  Pliers can chew the corners off a nut and the pliers can become damaged
  • When using a chisel, always chip or cut away from yourself
  • Direct saw blades, knives and other tools away from aisle areas, students, and employees
  • Keep knives and scissors sharp.  Dull tools are as dangerous as sharp ones

Improper tool storage is responsible for many shop accidents.  Return each tool to its marked location for proper tool storage

Power tools can be extremely dangerous if they are used improperly.  Common accidents associated with power tools include abrasions, cuts, lacerations, amputations, burns, electrocutions, and broken bones.  These accidents are often caused by the following:

  • Touching the cutting, drilling, or grinding components
  • Getting caught in moving parts
  • Suffering electrical shock due to improper grounding, equipment defects, or operator misuse
  • Being struck by particles that normally eject during operation
  • Touching hot tools or work pieces
  • Falling in the work area
  • Being struck by falling tools

When working around power tools, one must wear personal protective equipment and avoid wearing loose clothing or jewelry that could catch in moving machinery.  In addition to general lab guidelines, follow these guidelines for working with power tools:

  • No one is to turn on, use, repair, or operate any machine, tool, or equipment unless authorized by the lab technician
  • Use the correct tool for the job.  Do not use a tool or an attachment for something it was not designed to do
  • Select the correct bit, blade, cutter, or grinding wheel for the material at hand.  This precaution will reduce the chance for an accident and improve the quality of your work
  • Keep all guards in place.  Cover exposed belts, pulleys, gears, and shafts that could cause injury
  • Always operate tools at the correct speed for the job.  Working too slowly can cause an accident just as easily as working too fast
  • Watch your work when operating power tools.  Stop working if something distracts you
  • Do not rely on strength to perform an operation.  The correct tool, blade, and method should not require excessive force.  If undue force is necessary, you may be using the wrong tool or have a dull blade
  • Before clearing jams or blockages on power tools, disconnect from the power source.  Do not use  your hand to clear jams or blockages, use an appropriate tool
  • Never reach over equipment while it is running
  • Never disable or tamper with safety releases or other automatic switches
  • When the chance for operator injury is great, use a push stick to move material through a machine
  • Disconnect power tools before performing maintenance or changing components
  • Keep a firm grip on portable power tools.  These tools tend to “get away” from operators and can be difficult to control
  • Never leave chuck key in chuck
  • Keep bystanders away from moving machinery
  • Do not operate power tools when you are sick, fatigued, or taking strong medication
  • When possible, secure work pieces with a clamp or vise to free hands and minimize the chance for injury.  Use a jig for pieces that are unstable or do not lie flat



Failure to follow these guidelines, procedures, and instructions of the FABLAB will result in the loss of privileges to the lab.

March 26, 2019
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