General Shop Safety
It is not possible to detail all the risks involved with shop work. However, it is possible to foresee many hazards by carefully planning each job. To prevent accidents, utilize your knowledge, training, and common sense. Evaluate potential sources of injury, and attempt to eliminate hazards. Follow these guidelines for general shop safety:
- 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.
- Always wear appropriate safety gear and protective clothing.
- Ensure that there is adequate ventilation to prevent over-exposure from vapors, dust, and fumes.
- Maintain good housekeeping standards.
- Keep the work area free from slipping/tripping hazards (oil, cords, debris, etc.).
- All spills must be cleaned immediately. Contact the Office of Safety if assistance is required, 701.777.3341.
- Remove sawdust, wood chips, and metal chips regularly.
- It is recommended that electrical cords pull down from an overhead pulley rather than lying on the floor.
- Keep tool and equipment guards in place.
- Know where fire extinguishers are located and how to use them. Do not obstruct them.
- Make sure all tools and equipment are properly grounded and that cords are in good condition.
- Double-insulated tools or those with three-wire cords are essential for safety.
- Use extension cords that are large enough for the load and distance.
- Secure all compressed gas cylinders.
- Never use compressed air to clean clothing or skin.
- Always use flashback arrestors on cutting/welding torches.
- Take precautions against heat stroke and heat exhaustion.
- Wear infrared safety goggles when appropriate.
Refer any questions regarding shop safety to the Office of Safety, 701.777.3341.
A confined space can be defined as any space that meets the following criteria:
- Is large enough and so configured that an employee can bodily enter and perform assigned work; and
- Has limited or restricted means for entry or exit (for example tanks, vessels, silos, storage bins, hoppers, vaults, and pits are spaces that may have limited means of entry.); and
- Is not designed for continuous employee occupancy.
Permit-required confined spaces can be defined as those confined spaces meeting one or more of the following characteristics:
- Contains or has a potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere;
- Contains a material that has the potential for engulfing an entrant;
- Has an internal configuration such that an entrant could be trapped or asphyxiated by inwardly converging walls or by a floor which slopes downward and tapers to a smaller cross-section; or
- Contains any other recognized serious safety or health hazard.
Supervisors are responsible for surveying areas under their supervision to identify any confined spaces that might exist. They are also responsible for informing persons in their area of confined spaces through the use of signs or other effective means of notification. This will help prevent unauthorized entry.
Once either type of confined space is identified, the decision needs to be made as to whether or not employees will be expected to enter the confined space. In cases where employees are not meant to enter confined spaces, measures need to be put in place to prevent unauthorized entry.
If employees are expected to enter either type of confined spaces, departments must have a written permit-required confined space entry program. The written program will outline all of the specific requirements that must be in place prior to, and during, a permit-required confined space entry as outlined in the OSHA regulations pertaining to confined spaces. Some of the requirements that would be included in this plan include, but are not limited to:
- List of permit-required confined spaces including location and potential hazards associated with entry.
- Training for authorized entrants, entrant supervisors, and authorized attendants.
- Procedures and equipment for air monitoring prior to and during entry.
- Measures used to remove or control the hazards associated with the permit-required space.
- Procedures and equipment for rescue.
- Permit system to be utilized for safe entry.
Unless trained and authorized to do so, no person may enter a confined space on University property, or on facilities and grounds operated by the University of North Dakota.
The requirements for safe entry into permit-required confined spaces are quite comprehensive, and involve significant commitment from both management and front-line employees.
If it can be demonstrated that the only hazard associated with the entrance into a confined space is the potential for a hazardous atmosphere and that potential can be removed by artificial ventilation, the permit-required confined space can be downgraded to simply a confined space. Air sampling data must be collected to confirm that that hazard has been adequately removed. In such cases, entry into the confined space can be done with less extensive safety precautions, namely training, artificial ventilation, and pre-entry air monitoring.
For assistance in determining whether or not any confined spaces exist in your workplace, or to obtain a permit-required confined space checklist, please contact the Office of Safety at 701.777.3341.
OSHA fall protection requirements vary between general industry and construction standards. OSHA general industry standards require fall protection at four feet, while construction standards require protection at six feet.
Protection against falls must be provided when working on elevated surfaces or when adjacent to a lower level when a four foot or more fall hazard exists. Fall arresting systems are often used when fall hazards cannot be controlled by guardrails, floors, nets, and other means.
Personal fall arrest systems are used to stop someone in a fall. Personal fall arrest systems consist of an anchorage, connectors, a body harness, and may include a lanyard, deceleration device, lifeline, or suitable combinations of these items. These systems are designed to stop a free fall of up to four feet while limiting the forces imposed on the wearer.
Fall protection must be considered whenever work is performed in an area four feet above its surroundings. Fall protection must be provided through the use of guardrail systems, safety net systems, or personal fall arrest systems. Where it can be clearly demonstrated that the use of these systems is infeasible or creates a greater hazard, a fall protection program that provides for alternative fall protection measures may be implemented.
Work surfaces should be kept clear of material and debris.
Ramps, runways, and other walkways must be guarded to prevent individuals from falling four feet or more. Some ramps, runways, or walkways may require more stringent guarding as required by applicable codes.
Hand Tools/ Power Tools
Hand tools are non-powered. They include anything from axes to wrenches. The greatest hazards posed by hand tools results from misuse and improper maintenance.
When using hand tools, the following apply:
- Use the right tool to complete a job safely and efficiently.
- Wear appropriate protective equipment.
- Make sure saw blades, knives, or other tools are directed away from aisle areas and other employees working in close proximity.
- When using knives, always cut away from your body.
- Keep knives and scissors sharp; dull tools can be more hazardous than sharp ones.
- Around flammable substances, use spark-resistant tools made from brass, plastic, aluminum, or wood.
- Replace or repair all wooden handles that are loose, splintered, or cracked.
- Do not use impact tools such as chisels, wedges, or drift pins that have mushroomed heads.
- Report any tools that are defective or in unsatisfactory condition to your supervisor.
Power tools can be extremely dangerous if they are used improperly. Common accidents associated with power tools include abrasions, cuts, lacerations, amputations, burns, electrocution, and broken bones.
When working around power tools, you must wear the necessary personal protective equipment and avoid wearing loose clothing or jewelry that could catch in moving machinery. In addition to the general shop guidelines, the following apply when working with power tools:
- Use the correct tool for the job. Do not use a tool or attachment for something it was not designed to do.
- Do not rely on strength to perform an operation. If undue force is necessary, you may be using the wrong tool or have a dull cutting edge.
- Select the correct bit, blade, cutter, or grinder wheel for the material at hand.
- 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 at hand. 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.
- Before clearing jams, blockages, performing maintenance, or changing components on power tools, disconnect from power source or use appropriate lockout/tagout procedure.
- 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 exists, use a push stick to move material through a machine.
- Keep a firm grip on portable power tools. These tools tend to "get away" from operators and can be difficult to control.
- Remove chuck keys or adjusting tools prior to operation.
- Keep bystanders away from moving machinery.
- When you are sick, fatigued, or taking medication that may affect your ability to safely operate power tools, please notify your supervisor.
- When possible, secure work pieces with a clamp or vise to free the hands and minimize the chance of injury. Use a jig for pieces that are unstable or do not lie flat.
For further information, contact the Office of Safety at 701.777.3341.
When working with ladders, follow these guidelines for safe usage:
- Always inspect a ladder before you climb it. Make sure the steps or rungs are sturdy and the locking mechanisms are in good working order.
- Maintain ladders free of oil, grease, and other hazards.
- Use only for the purpose for which the ladder was designed (refer to manufacturer's labeling and recommendations).
- Carry ladders horizontally with the front end slightly higher than the back end.
- To open a stepladder, make sure the spreader is locked and the pail shelf is in position. To open an extension ladder, brace the bottom end and push the rungs or rails up.
- Place ladders on a solid, level surface to ensure safety. To prevent ladders from sinking into soft ground, use a large board or similar object under the feet of the ladder
- Watch for overhead obstructions and power lines.
- Position a straight or extension ladder so that the base of the ladder is one foot away from the vertical support for every four feet of working ladder height (ie., one foot out for every four foot up)
- Do not place the top of a ladder against a window or an uneven surface.
- When possible, tie the top of a straight or extension ladder to supports.
- An extension ladder used for access to a roof or elevated work platform, must extend at least 3 feet beyond the support point.
- Do not place a ladder in front of a door unless you barricade and post a warning sign on the opposite side of the door.
When climbing or working on ladders:
- Wear shoes with slip-resistant soles and make sure they are dry before climbing.
- Never allow more than one person on a ladder, unless designed for such use.
- Always face the ladder when ascending or descending.
- Keep your body between the rails at all times. Do not shift your weight to one side.
- Have someone steady the ladder if it cannot be secured otherwise.
- Do not stand on the top four rungs of an extension ladder or the top two steps of a stepladder.
- 3 points of contact should be maintained with the ladder (for example, 2 feet/1 hand or 2 hands/1 foot).
- Do not stand on the bucket shelf of a stepladder.
- Carry tools in a tool belt or use a rope to raise and lower them so both your hands can grasp the rungs while ascending and descending a ladder
- Use a wooden or composite ladder if you must work near electrical sources. Never use a metal ladder when you or the ladder could contact exposed electrical parts.
- Never leave a ladder unattended in an area where it could obstruct egress or present potential injury.
- Store ladders away from heat and moisture.
- Remove damaged or unsafe ladders from service
The key to protection from energy sources is a proper lockout/tagout procedure. De-energizing machines that use electricity, compressed gases, steam, hydraulics, spring tension, or other sources of energy prevents you from being exposed to serious and life threatening situations. Such accidental exposures can cause severe scalding or burns, extremities or clothing to get caught in a machine's moving parts, or fatal shock.
Do not service or perform maintenance on machines or equipment until all forms of energy are properly controlled. Departments performing lockout/tagout operations must have written lockout/tagout procedures in place.
Before beginning a lockout/tagout procedure, affected staff and equipment operators must be informed of the maintenance or repair activities that you will be doing. Be certain to include the length of time you expect the work to take. If there are shift changes, make sure others who may be affected are informed.
Only the person who places a lock and tag may remove it, unless specific procedures are utilized, providing adequate safeguards for the removal by others. Such specific removal procedures must be in writing. When more than one operation is being conducted on the same equipment, a lock must be applied for each operation. It is equally important that persons working in the area of a lockout/tagout operation understand and acknowledge the locks and tags.
For more information please consult the UND Lockout/Tagout Program, available from the Office of Safety,701.777.3341.
Machinery and Machine Guarding
Moving machine parts must be safeguarded to protect operators from serious injury.
Belts, gears, shafts, pulleys, flywheels, chains, and other moving parts must be guarded if there is a chance they could come in contact with the operator or a bystander.
Hazardous areas that must be guarded include the following:
- Point of operation: Area where the machine either cuts, bends, molds, forms, or rotates.
- Pinch/nip point: Area where moving machine parts can trap, pinch, or crush (i.e., roller feeds, intermeshing gears, etc.).
- Sharp edges
- Stored potential energy
Guards must be in place. If you notice that a guard is missing or damaged, contact your supervisor and have the guard replaced or repaired before beginning work. If a guard must be removed to perform maintenance or repairs, follow lockout/tagout procedures (See Industrial Safety - Lockout/Tagout). Replace the guard after repairs are completed.
Scaffolding is primarily used on the University campus for the construction and maintenance of buildings and structures. It is important that any personnel constructing, maintaining, or using scaffolding be familiar with the following general safety requirements:
Prior to Scaffold Erection
- The job site must be inspected to determine ground conditions or strength of the supporting floor, and for proximity of electric power lines, overhead obstructions, wind conditions, the need for overhead protection or weather protection coverings.
- Stationary scaffolds over 125 feet in height and rolling scaffolds over 60 feet in height must be designed or approved by a registered professional engineer.
- Inspect wood planks to see that they are graded for scaffold use, are in good condition, straight grained, free from saw cuts, splits, and holes. (Not all species and grades of lumber can be used as scaffold plank. Wood planks used for scaffolding must be specifically graded for scaffold use by an approved grading agency.)
- All equipment must be inspected prior to each use to see that it is in good working condition. Never use damaged or deteriorated equipment.
Erection of Fixed Scaffold
- Scaffolds must be erected, moved, or disassembled only under the supervision of qualified persons. Hard hats must be worn by all persons erecting, moving, dismantling, or using scaffolding.
- The footings or anchorage for scaffolds must be sound, rigid and capable of carrying the maximum intended load without settling or displacement. Compensate for uneven ground by using screw-jacks with base plates. Never use unstable objects, such as barrels, boxes, loose brick, or concrete blocks to support scaffolds or planks.
- Ties, guys, bracing, and/or outriggers may be necessary to assure a safe and stable scaffold assembly.
- Scaffolds and their components must be capable of supporting at least four times the maximum intended load.
- Material used for working platforms on scaffolding must be designed for such use and be in good condition. Examples of scaffolding work surfaces are laminated veneer lumber, solid sawn lumber, fabricated scaffold deck/plank, decorator plank, and metal scaffold platform.
- A safe means must be provided to gain access to the working platform level through the use of a ladder, ramp, etc. Cross-braces are never to be used as a means of access.
- Guardrails, midrails, and toeboards must be installed on all open sides and ends of platforms more than 10 feet above the ground or floor. Where persons are required to work or pass under the scaffolds, wire mesh must be installed between the toeboard and the guardrail along the entire opening.
Use of Scaffolds
- Before use, a qualified person must thoroughly inspect the completed assembly to see that nuts and bolts are tightened, that it is level and plumb, that work platforms are fully planked, that guardrails, midrails, and toeboards are in place, as required, and safe access is provided.
- Do not overload platforms with materials.
- Working heights are not to be extended by planking guardrails or by use of boxes or ladders on scaffold platforms.
- Do not remove any component of a completed scaffold assembly, except under the supervision of a qualified person. Any component that has been removed should be immediately replaced.
- Never work on scaffolds during storms or high winds, or when covered with ice or snow.
- When bringing equipment (tools, supplies, etc.) up and down scaffolding, follow the procedures for the type of access the scaffolding has. The type of access could be one of the following or a combination of; stairs, ramp, ladder, walkways, personnel hoist, etc.
Rolling Towers - all of the precautions listed above, plus:
- Do not ride manually propelled rolling scaffold. No personnel should be on the tower while it is being moved.
- Lock all casters before getting on the tower.
- Work only within the platform area.
- Do not bridge between two rolling towers with planks or stages.
- Secure all materials before moving scaffolds.
- Be sure the ground or floor surface is clear of obstructions or holes before moving scaffold.
- Be sure there are no overhead obstructions or electric power lines in the path of rolling scaffold.
- Rolling towers must only be used on level surfaces.
- Move rolling towers by pushing at the base level only. Do not pull from the top.
Welding, cutting, and brazing are forms of hot work that require special safety considerations. Departments performing hot work must develop an operating procedure and forward the completed procedure to the Office of Safety for review. If assistance is needed in developing the operating procedure, please contact the Office of Safety at 701.777.3341.
Welding, Cutting, and Brazing Guidelines
The proper selection of personal protective equipment (PPE) is very important when performing hot work. Ensure that the eye protection used is sufficient for the work being performed. The following additional PPE should be considered as well: fireproof apron, fire resistant gauntlet gloves, leather leggings, leather cape or shoulder covers, and earplugs. Respiratory protection may be necessary when engineering controls fail to provide to a safe atmosphere (see PPE-Respiratory Protection Program for details). Always take care to protect other people from the hazards of welding by using a welding curtain or other appropriate devices.
Common hazards associated with welding include the following:
- UV radiation exposure
- Oxygen depletion
- Toxic fumes
Before welding, cutting, or brazing, inspect your equipment for the following:
- Welding leads must be completely insulated and in good condition.
- Cutting tools must be leak-free and equipped with proper fittings, gauges, regulators, and flashback devices.
- Oxygen and acetylene tanks must be secured in a safe place.
- Manufacturers' manuals are a good source of additional information.
The following items are guidelines to be used in most welding, cutting, and brazing procedures:
- Conduct hot work operations in designated areas free from flammable or combustible materials.
- When hot work is necessary in an undesignated or hazardous area, specialized safety procedures must be included in the departmental hot work plan.
- Assign a crew member whose sole responsibility is fire watch when other than a minor fire may develop, or if any of the following conditions exist:
- Appreciable combustible material exists in building construction or contents that are closer than 35 feet;
- Appreciable combustibles are more than 35 feet away but are easily ignited by sparks;
- Wall or floor openings within a 35-foot radius expose combustible material in adjacent areas; or
- Combustible materials are adjacent to the opposite side of metal partitions, wall, ceilings, or roofs and there is potential for them to be ignited by construction or radiation.
- Periodically check the work area for a flammable atmosphere.
- Take care to prevent sparks from starting a fire.
- Remove unused gas cylinders from the hot work area.
- Keep hoses out of doorways and away from other people. A flattened hose can cause a flashback.
- Mark hot materials with a sign or other warning during hot work activities.
- Make sure reflective or combustible surfaces in the hot work area are removed or adequately guarded.
- Ensure that adequate ventilation and exhaust are available.
- Be aware of electrocution hazards, particularly in damp conditions. Be sure that electrical cords are properly grounded. It is advisable for cords to pull down from an overhead pulley.
Gas welding and cutting tools are often fueled by oxygen and acetylene gas cylinders. These cylinders require special safety precautions to prevent explosions and serious injuries. Follow the safety guidelines below, and refer to the Laboratory Safety section in this manual for more information on gas cylinder safety:
- Ensure that acetylene/oxygen systems are equipped with flame or flashback arrestors.
- Store oxygen and acetylene cylinders upright and secure them to a fixed object.
- Oxygen must be separated from cylinders containing flammable gases, and all other combustibles during storage.
- Keep cylinder fittings and hoses free from oil and grease.
- Repair defective hoses by proper splicing methods or replace them. Do not use tape.
- Do not tamper or attempt to repair cylinders, valves, or regulators.
- Do not interchange regulators or pressure gauges with other gas cylinders.
- Carefully purge hoses and torches before connecting a cylinder.
- Set acetylene pressure at or below 15 psig. Always use the minimum acceptable flow rate.
- To allow for rapid closing, never open the valve on an acetylene cylinder more than three-fourths of a turn.
- Never use a match to light a torch. Use an approved striker.
For additional safety information on welding, cutting and brazing, contact the Office of Safety at 701.777.3341.