Safety Rules

Machine shops are inherently hazardous places. Sharp edges abound, and many machines have enough power to do serious damage to the machine, the work piece, or the person operating them. Spinning work pieces on the lathes or cutting tools can entangle anything that gets near them to slice and dice like a Cuisinart! Chuck keys left in place may be sent flying across the shop while grinding wheels can shatter into many small projectiles. Common sense and vigilance are the best defense for these types of problems. One should consistently ask, ‘What could go wrong with this set up”? Is the work piece secure and well clamped? Is the tool secure and tight in the tool holder or spindle?’ Adopting this approach before machine operation will significantly reduce the chances of injury to yourself and others around you.

Primary Rules

The following items are the most basic and primary safety rules for the student shop, with more clarification following this list.

  • Eye protection in the form of Safety Glasses, must be worn at all times.
  • Safety Goggles with side protection shall be worn when working with liquids.
  • In order to operate a machine, there must be another person present…period. No one may operate any machine while alone. NO EXCEPTIONS
  • Never leave a machine running unattended… the shop is a noisy place, and someone else might not realize a machine is running.
  • Never start or stop a machine for someone else, and never crank a handle for someone else. One person only is to operate a machine. NO EXCEPTIONS
  • Never take your hand off a chuck key or spindle wrench… ever. You must get into the habit of taking the chuck key or wrench out and putting it in a secure location.
  • Securely clamp work before machining.
  • Do not use tools for anything other than their intended purpose.
  • Return all tools to their designated place, and never remove them from the shop.
  • Clean each machine after use with brushes. Do not use your hands to clear away debris.
  • Proper dress is required… Appropriate attire includes long sleeved shirts, pants, shoes and eye protection. No sandals, no shorts, no ties, no scarves, necklaces or bracelets and no loose clothing. Anything that can be caught in a machine probably will be caught, and will injure you.

Avoidance of Hazards

  • Many injuries in a shop occur to either the hands, or the eyes. While it is almost impossible to avoid small nicks, cuts, or bruises, it is possible to avoid stitches or loss of a finger. The simplest way to accomplish this is to avoid direct contact with moving machine parts, rotating pieces, and sharp edges.
  • Always wear approved safety glasses, with side shields, even if you are not working on a machine. A chip from someone else’s work could still find its way to your eye.
  • Remove bracelets, rings, or other jewelry. This will ensure both your safety and prevent damage to the jewelry.Tie up long hair or put it under a cap.
  • Never touch a work piece or cutting tool while it is still in motion.
  • Do not try to stop a machine with your hands or body. Let the machine come to a stop naturally, and/or use the brake. Acknowledge the temptation to speed up the process by using your hands to slow the spindle or chuck down to a stop, but know this is a dangerous practice.
  • Never use a rag near moving machinery.
  • Do not wear gloves while using a milling machine or lathe.
  • Pick up cutting tools by their shanks only, or with a rag around their sharp cutting edge.
  • Be aware that after machining, work pieces often have sharp or sharper edges than the tools themselves.
  • As soon as possible, de-burr parts.
  • De-burr all stock returned to the storage rack.
  • Recently worked tools and stock can become very hot. Avoid accidental burns through visual inspection or “remote sensing” before grabbing that tool or work piece.
  • Ensure tooling and work pieces are properly supported and tightly clamped. Starting a spindle with loose tooling, or a machine with a loosely clamped work piece, can produce very dramatic flying hazards. Chuck keys left in chucks become dangerous missiles.
  • Be sure that all work pieces are securely clamped before any operation and all wrenches and chuck keys are removed.
  • The moment before you turn a machine on, pause…… Make a mental check of where your hands are. Think about any direction the cutter, parts of the machine or work, may move to upon start up.
  • Work at a comfortable pace. Rushing compromises safe work and product quality. It also may damage equipment.
  • Listen to the machine. If something does not sound right, shut it down. If it sounds abnormal, it may not be operating properly.
  • Sharp tools are much safer and more efficient than dull tools, and require less effort to accomplish a given task.
  • Concentrate on what you are doing, and be aware of what other people are doing around you.
  • Do not leave any machine running and unattended. Co-workers may not notice the machine is running and be injured.
  • Never remove a machine guard.
  • Never perform work on a machine that is missing a guard.
  • Use a crane, hoist or get help if the job you are doing involves lifting and moving heavy objects. The machine shop is no place for demonstrations of strength. Work smart, and use equipment available.
  • Never let any part of your body be below any object or part of an object lifted or moved by overhead cranes.
  • Use a broom, brush, or vacuum to clean dust or chips. Do not handle or brush chips with your hands. Stainless steel splinters are much worse than aluminum splinters, and often cannot be seen. Periodically, during machining operations, stop the machine to remove long chips.
  • Never use compressed air to clean clothes. Dust or fine chips may blow into eyes.
  • After each use, machine cleaning and maintenance are everyone’s responsibility.
  • All users of the shop equipment shall be familiar with the location of the emergency stop button for each machine, eye wash station, first aid kit, phone, and, every fire extinguisher.
  • OSHA regulations do not allow food or drinks in the shop. A designated drinking and eating area shall be assigned.
  • Avoid having to rely upon instincts and assumptions. Plan your machine operations before performing any work. Resolve problems prior to the start of a process.
  • When planning a procedure that you are unsure about or suspect it may be unsafe, stop and ask if there may be a safer way to accomplish the task. If you are unsure, ask for assistance.
  • Do not be shy about asking for advice or opinions from shop staff, particularly the Student Shop Manager. An early simple question can avoid disaster.
  • Above all, work safe, think safe, and try to be aware of what could happen. These are powerful machines; do not become complacent, because they can and will cause serious injuries. However, they can be used safely and efficiently with the application of common sense and a cautious awareness of what can happen. Remember, you are responsible for your own safety, and the safety of those around you.