Shop Safety

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Shop Rules and Guidelines (18 May 2012)

This is an outline/draft to get us started. Future versions will have proper wiki formatting, this is just a cut-n-paste from Omni.

Shop safety rules are in place to protect everyone. What is safe in your studio or at your job might not be safe at Hack PGH, our rules apply at the shop. All HackPGH members are required to do a safety tour after joining. Some tools and equipment have separate training and safe use instruction that new members must complete prior to using them. See the Tools and Equipment pages for details.

Rules mean 'You MUST do it this way.'

Guidelines mean 'You should probably do it this way, but there are exceptions.'

General Operations

  • Anyone can ask anyone else to stop and verify that what they are doing is safe.
  • Only HackPGH members can use shop tools and equipment (Certain classes offered by HackPgh may allow exceptions for this)
  • Visitors and individuals attending classes must follow all rules and guidelines
  • No one under the age of 18 is allowed in the shop unless accompanied by an adult parent or guardian
  • First aid kit must always be available and not stored in an unsafe or restricted area
  • Fire extinguishers must always be available and not stored in unsafe or inaccessible areas
  • All manuals must be printed and on wiki (in progress)
  • Commonly used materials must be listed in the MSDS binder, find/print new ones as needed
  • No food or drinks in the tool area
  • Do not work alone when using any power/machine tools. Use the buddy system!
  • Guideline: Try to avoid working alone in general, if possible.
  • No fire art, pyrotechnics, or other dangerous/flammable projects inside the building. (Heat-based tools are ok)
   Example: no fire spinning or fireworks, but a hand torch for soldering copper is fine as long as it is done properly.
  • No illegal projects
  • No RF jammers, pirate radio transmitters
  • Nothing that would get you arrested if someone complained, such as realistic looking airguns or fake bombs.


  • When in doubt, wear eye protection
  • No long sleeves, loose hair, jewelry, gloves, or other snag-able items on the lathe, mill, or power tools
  • Shirts and shoes must be worn at all times.
  • Guideline: No long sleeves, necklaces or jewelry, or loose clothing at all
  • No gloves or rags on equipment with moving parts: lathe, drill press, mill, saws
  • No open-toed shoes, sandals, or bare feet in the shop

Shop work

  • Clean/inspect tools before plugging them in
  • Tag out any suspect tools with a warning sign on the switch, unplug the tool, send an email to the list.
  • and put away tools after you finish using them
   * Clean up the waste after you work. Vacuum, sweep, dust, etc


  • No dangerous materials - use common sense
  • No working on radioactive or regulated materials, including using thorium electrodes
  • Guideline: Test sources for geiger counters are ok as long as they are clearly marked and stored safely.
  • Galvanized steel is ok to drill, but is not ok to weld
  • No fireworks, explosives, gunpowder, black powder or similar flammables
  • Nothing that generates toxic fumes
  • Wood is not always safe, plywood and MDF have glues, walnut and some hardwoods have residual oils. Control the dust generated when cutting wood. If in doubt, look up the MSDS for what you're working with

Tools-specific rules

  • Lathe - Classes will be offered on this periodically. Check the Calendar for dates.
  • Drill press - Takes 5-10 minutes, can be done after any meeting or safety tour.
  • Mill - Classes will be offered on this periodically. Check the Calendar for dates.
  • Locked out machines cannot be used, they are marked for repair or inspection
  • Do not use compressed air to clean chips from a cutting tool
  • Use clamps to hold material on drill presses, the lathe, mill, etc.
  • Use clamps with hand tools when possible


  • Guideline: use lead-free solder
  • If using leaded solder:

- Verify ventilation -Warn people nearby -Do not touch your face, eat or drink while working -Wash up yourself and clean the area you worked when done

  • Eye protection is encouraged for anyone soldering or working near someone who is soldering
  • All soldering irons are always considered hot. Use caution.

Welding, glass, and hot work

  • Ensure work area is properly ventilated
  • Verify that everyone within indirect line of sight has appropriate visual and physical protection
  • Hand torches for brazing and soldering copper are considered welding in terms of safety
  • This section in progress...