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Lab, Shop and Studio Safety

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Art, Lab and Studio Safety Policy

Art, lab and studio safety policy

It shall be the policy of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Department of Art that a safe, healthy environment shall be maintained at all times within Department of Art facilities. We recognize that some techniques, materials and practices used within the Department of Art have inherent risk.

If those risks cannot be adequately minimized and controlled through proper training, equipment and use of appropriate precautions, those techniques and materials may not be used within the department. Furthermore, ignoring proper procedures, precautions and restrictions is not acceptable and will not be allowed.

All faculty, staff and students must be especially diligent in following safety rules that apply to the different areas within the Department of Art. The galleries and the different art studios have unique health and safety requirements.

Failure to follow the appropriate safety rules may result in injury. Therefore, failure to follow required safety rules may result in immediate temporary and possibly permanent removal from a given activity or class.

In addition to these general guidelines, the instructors of courses in Studio Foundations, 2D Studio, 3D Studio, Design and Art Education will provide the appropriate media specific training to students working in each discipline specific area. The Gallery Director and/or faculty/staff supervising gallery related activities are responsible for proper safety training related to those gallery activities.

Handling Safety Issues
It is the policy of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Department of Art that no safety concern is unimportant. All personnel and students within the Department are encouraged to bring such concerns to the attention of the faculty and staff.

In no way will doing so reflect badly on or be held against the person making the report. Rather contributing to the health and safety of all personnel is everyone’s responsibility.

Any perceived safety concerns or hazards, large or small, should be reported to the faculty or staff in charge of the area or directly to the Department Chair.  Steps will be taken to correct the problem or to report the problem to the appropriate University authorities for action.

Access to Studios and Galleries
No one is allowed access to a studio area unless they have been properly trained to use the tools and materials in that area. No unauthorized personnel are allowed to work in the studio or gallery areas.

Access to some studios is restricted to times when lab assistants are available, staffing the studio during non-class times. No one shall be permitted to work in or operate any of the power tools in the Department Woodshop without successfully completing Woodshop training.

First Aid, Accidents and Reporting
A First Aid Kit is maintained in each studio area. The faculty/staff member(s) who teach in that studio are responsible for maintaining the kit and keeping it stocked. All kits are easily accessible; the location of the First Aid Kit within the studio is part of the general studio health and safety introduction of each class.

The First Aid Kit is intended for First Aid only. In the event of anything other than minor incidents, accidents are to be reported immediately to the faculty/staff in charge of the area, if they are not present, contact the Department Office 424-2222 or after hours, contact University Police at 424-1212, who is authorized to contact the proper emergency services.

If the incident is serious or life threatening, you should call 911 immediately. University Police should then be contacted as soon as practical. Render whatever first aid can be applied until emergency services arrive to relieve you. All incidents must also be reported to the Department of Art Chair, as soon as possible, after the incident.

General Department Studio Safety Rules

All required safety rules must be followed at all times.

The following should be considered as guidelines for working in the studio areas in the Department of Art. They have been written and are enforced for your safety, and as such should be followed at all times.

If you have any questions regarding the safe operation of any tool or use of any material, please feel free to ask the faculty/staff. You are responsible to know and understand the following:

1. All persons working in the studios shall be properly attired. The following studios need to wear closed-toe shoes: functional design, sculpture, ceramics, printmaking, metals, 3D Design, and woodshop).  At no time will anyone wearing sandals be allowed to work in the studios as they do not give sufficient protection to the wearer. Also, long hair is to be tied back to avoid any chance of getting it caught in moving machinery.

2. Ear and eye protection (safety glasses and/or goggles) is required in several studios. In general, when operating any power tool, safety glasses are to be worn. Safety goggles are required when using certain chemicals and machines. Also when participating in any amount abrasive sanding or spray painting, respirators are also to be used in addition to safety glasses.

3. Gloves and other protective clothing such as aprons may be required when working with certain chemicals.

4. Every attempt should be made to keep your work area clean and organized. This means periodically sweeping up excessive waste and returning tools to their proper places. Consumption of food or drink in most studio areas should be avoided.

5. No person shall work in the studios while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Prescribed drugs that cause drowsiness, lightheadedness or disorientation should also not be used. Any student using such prescribed medications should notify the faculty/staff in charge.

6. Any time that you have a problem with any tool or machine, bring it to the attention of the faculty/staff in charge so they may assist you. Never attempt to repair or adjust any machines. If a machine or tool is accidentally damaged, bring it to the attention of the instructor. Please do not try to hide or cover up any damages.

7. At no time shall any student operate or attempt to operate any of the power equipment in the department without proper training and permission. This includes but is not limited to: the table, radial arm, circular, band and sabre saws; the drill press and any pneumatic power tools. Before operating any power tools, make sure all hand tools, chuck keys or other foreign materials are clear of the machine’s work area.

8. Dangling necklaces or large rings, long loose scarves or loose sleeves should not be worn in some of the studios, as they may become entangled in moving machinery.

9. Always make sure that all power tools are turned off and the electrical power disconnected before leaving the machine. Never leave an unattended machine running, even for “one second”. Always unplug or disconnect from the power source all power tools before changing blades, bits or attachments.

Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for chemicals and other supplies/materials used in the studios are maintained and stored by the university in an electronic system. In addition, copies of SDS for each studio area can also be found in the studio.

If you have questions about anything in any SDS, or about any process, see the instructor for clarification.

Ventilation Systems
The studios in the Department of Art are equipped with media/technique specific ventilation systems, which must be used at all appropriate times. The use of spray paint, varnishes, adhesives and/or fixatives is permitted only in a properly working spray booth.

There is a general access spray booth located on the second floor of the AC. Training will include directions on the use of the spray booth ventilation system.

The dust collection system in the Woodshop must be operating when table saw, band saw, or radial arm saw is in use. Welding/soldering shall be allowed only in the designated studio areas with the appropriate ventilation.

The use of solvents, acids and some powders will also only be allowed in areas designated for their use and those with proper ventilation. Training in the proper use of these tools and materials will include training on the ventilation system.

General Lab Safety Guidelines

General Lab Safety Guidelines

  • Never bring food or drink into lab spaces. If a room serves multiple functions, clearly delineate lab areas from those used for other purposes. Do not cross-contaminate the areas.
  • Never smoke in lab spaces.
  • Wear appropriate clothing. Loose clothing should be confined. Shorts and sandals should not be worn.
  • Keep hair restrained.
  • Keep lab areas clean and organized.
  • Properly label and store all materials, following the globally harmonized system of classification and labeling, where appropriate.
  • Know the MSDS information for the materials being used.
  • Follow all posted safety signs/instructions.
  • Read all labels carefully.
  • Properly store all materials.
  • Avoid working alone.
  • Utilize personal protective equipment (PPE) when appropriate.
  • Ensure machine safety features are properly utilized.
  • Ensure sharps and biohazard waste are properly disposed.
  • Use correct lifting technique. Grab a partner if you are unable to lift a load safely.
  • Know where eyewash, safety shower stations, fire extinguishers, spill control kits, and other safety equipment are located.
  • Know evacuation procedures for the lab space.
  • Use GFCI outlets where appropriate.
  • Use fume hoods when appropriate.
Electrical Safety

Electrical Safety

All employees use electric powered equipment and systems throughout the campus. Whether in an office, lab or workshop, electricity is used continuously, usually without incident.

Electrical voltages as low as 12 volts, can be dangerous to people and cause injury. When working with or around electrical equipment, one may inadvertently become part of an electrical circuit. Only trained and authorized or qualified individuals should do any repair or work on electrical equipment.

General Precautions for All Staff

  • Never work on “hot” or energized equipment unless it is necessary to conduct equipment troubleshooting
  • Use extension cords only as temporary power sources.
  • Do not connect too many pieces of equipment to the same circuit or outlet as the circuit or outlet could become overloaded.
  • Be sure that ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) are used in high-risk areas such as wet locations (GFCI’s are designed to shut off electrical power within as little as 1/40 of a second).
  • Plug strips, such as those used on computers, should be plugged directly into outlets and not into extension cords or other plug strips.
  • Inspect all equipment periodically for defects or damage.
  • All cords that are worn, frayed, abraded, corroded or otherwise damaged must be replaced.
  • Grasp the plug to remove it from a socket – never pull the cord.
  • Keep all cords away from heat, oil and sharp edges.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use and maintenance of all electrical tools and appliances.
  • Keep equipment operating instructions on file.
  • Never touch an electrical appliance and plumbing at the same time.
  • Always unplug electrical appliances before attempting any repair or maintenance.
  • All electrical devices must be properly grounded with approved three wire plugs unless they are “double insulated”. Grounding provides a safe path for electricity to the ground, preventing leakage of current in circuits or equipment.
  • All electrical equipment used on campus should be UL or FM approved.
  • Keep cords out of the way of foot traffic so they don’t become tripping hazards or become damaged by traffic.
  • Never use electrical equipment in wet areas or run cords across wet floors.
  • Ensure energized parts of electrical equipment operating at 50 volts or more are guarded against accidental contact.
  • Only properly trained employees should work on electrical equipment.
  • Know how to respond to emergencies such as electric shock incidents or fires.

Localized Electrical Outage

  • All Staff should immediately report electric outages to Facilities Management.
  • If possible, identify the defective equipment or the cause of the failure and remove it from service.
  • Report this information to Facilities Management personnel upon their arrival.

Labs and Facilities Management

  • NEVER work with electricity greater than 600 volts without specific permission, training and written procedures. Notify your supervisor immediately if you have any questions.
  • Be able to recognize electrical safety hazards in your work area.
  • Ensure that all authorized or qualified persons have received appropriate training in order to operate or repair equipment.
  • Keep equipment in good working order to help prevent electrical accidents.
  • Maintain a three-foot clearance around electrical panels.
  • Electrically operated equipment must be deenergized before work may commence.
  • Always follow lockout/tag-out procedures when working on electrical equipment and wear appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as safety glasses, rated rubber gloves, rated rubber sleeves, insulated boots, or face shield.
  • Never override safety devices such as electrical interlocks.
  • Remove all rings, key chains or other metal objects when working around electricity.
  • Wear appropriate personal protective equipment, such as eye protection or insulated gloves, as needed.
  • Never use metal ladders when working near energized wiring.
  • Damp or wet environments may be dangerous when working with electricity.
  • Never plug in cords that are wet or touch electrical equipment with wet hands.
  • Employees working with lasers, performing hardware or software testing, or other activities that do not require direct contact with electrical components, should be aware of electrical safety issues and be alert to the possibility of other employees conducting energized work in the area.

Damaged or Defective Electrical Equipment
Report malfunctioning equipment or devices to your supervisor or Facilities Management at (920) 424-3466. Typical issues include:

  • Damaged cords, plugs or outlets;
  • Receiving a shock when touching the equipment; and
  • Arcing, sparking, smoking, or otherwise malfunctioning equipment.
  • Any electrical equipment not operating properly should be:
  • Taken out of service immediately.
  • Tagged or labeled as “Do Not Use”.
  • Reported to the appropriate department or individual for repair.
  • Do not attempt to repair any electrical equipment yourself unless you are properly trained and authorized to do so.
Fume Hood Safety



Laboratory fume hoods serve to control exposure to toxic, offensive, or flammable vapors, gases, and aerosols. Fume hoods are the primary method of exposure control in the laboratory.

Use the right hood for the job.

  • General purpose hoods:
  • Standard fume hood
  • Bypass hood, or constant volume hood
  • Variable air volume (VAV) hood
  • Auxiliary air supplied hood
  • Radioisotope hood – use for volatile radioactive materials
  • Biosafety cabinet – specialized hoods to prevent or minimize the exposure of humans or the environment to biohazardous agents or materials
  • Perchloric acid hoods – MUST be used when working with PCA (e.g., acid digestion procedures). These hoods prevent the formation of perchlorates which could lead to explosions. They are constructed with special materials and have water-wash capability.

•    Place apparatus and equipment as far back as possible in hood for safety and optimal performance. Equipment should be placed a minimum of 8 inches inside the hood. Keep electrical connections outside of hood.
•    Ensure that equipment or materials do not block the baffle vents in the back of the hood.
•    When using a large apparatus inside the hood, place the equipment on blocks, when safe and practical, to allow air flow beneath it.
•    Do not place electrical apparatus or other ignition sources inside the hood when flammable liquids or gases are present. Keep in mind that liquids with low flash points may ignite if they are near heat sources such as hot plates or steam lines.

•    When using the fume hood, keep your face outside the plane of the hood sash and remain alert to changes in air flow.
•    Work at least 6 inches back from the face of the hood. A stripe on the bench surface is a good reminder.
•    Always use splash goggles, and wear a full face shield if there is possibility of an explosion or eruption.
•    Wear gloves appropriate for the materials being used.
•    Do not use porous materials (paper, pencils, etc.).
•    Do not make quick motions into or out of the hood, use fans, or walk quickly by the hood opening. All will cause airflow disturbances which reduce the effectiveness of the hood.
•    Substitute less hazardous or less volatile chemicals where possible.
•    Look for process changes that improve safety and reduce losses to the environment (e.g., more accurate chemical delivery systems vs. pouring volatile chemicals from bottles).
•    Develop a process to evaluate research proposals ahead of time for potential emissions and look for opportunities to reduce them.

Do not use the hood as a waste disposal mechanism. Apparatus used in a hood should be fitted with condensers, traps, or scrubbers to contain and collect waste solvents, toxic vapors or dust. Please contact Greg Potratz ( for additional information on waste disposal or refer to the following Hazardous Waste Disposal portion of this web site.

•    Limit chemical storage in fume hoods. Keep the smallest amount of chemicals in the hood needed to conduct the procedure at hand.
•    Store hazardous chemicals such as flammable liquids in an approved safety cabinet.
•    Keep caps on chemical reagent bottles tight and check fitting on laboratory glassware to minimize vapor loss.
•    Keep the exhaust duct clear of debris.

Always use good housekeeping techniques to maintain the hood at optimal performance levels. Excessive storage of materials or equipment can cause eddy currents or reverse flow, resulting in contaminants escaping from the hood.

•    Do not remove sashes from sliding sash hoods. The hood should be kept closed, except when working within the hood is necessary.
•    Use sliding sash for partial protection during hazardous work.
•    Do not remove the sash or panels except when necessary for apparatus set-up. Replace sash or panels before operating.
•    Keep the slots of the hood baffles free of obstruction by apparatus or containers.
•    Keep the hood sash closed as much as possible to maximize the hood’s performance. Keep the sash closed when not in use to maximize energy conservation.

Hoods should be evaluated by the user before each use to ensure adequate face velocities and the absence of excessive turbulence.

In case of exhaust system failure while using a hood, shut off all services and accessories and lower the sash completely. Leave the area immediately.

The required face velocity is 100 feet per minute (0.5m/sec). This velocity is capable of controlling most low-velocity cross drafts and turbulence created by normal working practices at the face of the hood. All hoods should have a sticker designating the maximum safe sash height. Keep the sash at the appropriate level to ensure optimal face velocity.

Regular testing of the fume hood should be done by Facilities Management to ensure that it is operating properly. Hoods are labeled to indicate the last inspection date. If your hood has not been tested within the past year, please  contact Facilities Management (-3466) or your department office.

State of Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services states:

SPS 332.24
1.    General.
1.    Except as provided in par. (b), laboratory fume hoods during use shall be operated with a minimum average 100 feet per minute face velocity at full open sash or sash stop position. When determining the minimum flow rate through the fume hood, the sash stop position may not be lower than 18 inches above the work surface.

NOTE: When operating the fume hood, the sash should be positioned to maximize protection to the user.

2.    Vertical sash fume hoods operated at sash stop positions shall have an alarm that gives a warning when the sash is raised above the sash stop position. Combination vertical/horizontal sash fume hoods shall have an alarm that gives a warning when the sash is vertically raised from the fully lowered position.

2.     Alternate Operation.
1.     Fume hoods operating at minimum average face velocities less than 100 feet per minute shall achieve a spillage rate less than 0.1 ppm at 4.0 liters per minute gas release for an “as used” condition in accordance with the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) standard 110 – Method of Testing Laboratory Fume Hoods. The minimum allowable average face velocity for fume hoods achieving the ASHRAE 110 containment criteria shall be 40 feet per minute at full open sash.

2.    Fume hoods operating at minimum average face velocities less than 100 feet per minute shall have a continuous flow meter with an alarm.

NOTE: For further information regarding fume hood operation, see ANSI/AIHA standard Z9.5 – Laboratory Ventilation.

3.    Testing.
Operable fume hoods shall be tested annually for minimum average face velocity.

History: Cr. Register, February, 1999, No. 518, eff. 3-1-99; am. (2) (a), (4) (c), (5) (a) and (c) 2., r. (2) (b) and Figure 32.24, renum. (2) (c) and (d) to be (2) (b) and (c) and am. (c), cr. (5) (d) and (6), Register, June, 2000, No. 534, eff. 7-1-00; CR 01-139: am. (5) (c) 1.
Register June 2002 No. 558, eff. 7-1-02.

The OSHA Laboratory Standard (link 29 CFR 1910.1450) does not specify safe hood operation, flows or face velocities. However, it does mandate a chemical hygiene plan and lists requirements for the plan, including “a requirement that fume hoods and other protective equipment are functioning properly and specific measures that shall be taken to ensure proper and adequate performance of such equipment.”

The Proper Use of a Fisher Hamilton Pioneer Fume Hood

Laser Safety


Laser is an acronym for “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation”. Radiation in this case occurs in the portions of the electromagnetic field with insufficient energy to induce ionization or breaking up of the atom (i.e., it is non-ionizing). Non-ionizing radiation occurs in the radio frequency, microwave, infrared visible and ultraviolet ranges.

Lasers operate in two modes: pulsed (e.g. Q-switched lasers) and continuous wave (CW). Generally, pulsed lasers are more hazardous than CW lasers. Lasers using CO2 and certain other materials emit beams that are not visible to the eye, hence they are particularly hazardous.

Biological damage caused by lasers includes thermal burns, photochemical burns, and retinal injury. Electrical safety and fire are also important concerns.

In the use of a laser, safety procedures must be established and followed so that protection is provided for students, teachers, workers, visitors, bystanders, and passersby.

Hazards may include:
•    Vaporized target material from high-energy laser cutting, drilling, and welding operations
•    Gases from lasers
•    Gases from cryogenic coolants
•    Ultraviolet infrared radiation
•    Electrical hazards – cables between the power supply and laser head must be properly selected and placed and the capacitor system safeguarded

All electrical equipment must be well-maintained to prevent shocks and burns. Energy sources for lasers are essentially high-voltage equipment. Capacitors must be de-energized before cleaning or any repairing. All voltage on capacitors must be removed before leaving equipment. Interlocks must be provided to prevent access to components of high-voltage currents. Fire buttons must be remote from the charge and hold buttons to prevent accidental discharge of a laser. All ultraviolet and infrared radiation must be shielded.

Hazard controls in the operation of lasers are:
•    Do not look into the primary beam or at reflections of the beam
•    Avoid aiming the laser with the eye to prevent looking along the axis because of the hazard of reflection
•    If possible, work with lasers should be done in areas of high general illumination to keep pupils constricted
•    Proper safety glasses should be worn to filter out specific injurious frequencies of the unit
•    Terminate the laser beam with material that is non-reflective and fire resistant
•    Provide adequate clear space around the laser path
•    Provide protection from electrical shock from the potentially dangerous electrical sources of high and low voltage
•    High-voltage rectifiers may generate x-rays and require protection

There are many special precautions that must be taken from the particular lasers as high-powered pulsing lasers and low-powered gas and semi-conducted systems. Carbon dioxide and nitrogen lasers are fire hazards.

Any room where a laser is located must be adequately marked on the entering door and in the room so that everyone (students, faculty, staff, and visitors) is aware of its presence.

Security of the equipment against inadvertent intrusion must always be considered when operating a laser.

At least two people should be present at all times when lasers are in operation. Under no circumstances should a room containing an active laser be left unattended or unlocked.

Ventilation of the room must be considered to remove any accumulation of hazardous gases or fumes that are generated in the operation of the laser.

All personnel in the laser area should be informed about the potential eye hazard of accidental exposure to the beam. It is the responsibility of the project supervisor to give each person concerned a copy of these rules and ensures that all safety precautions are observed.

More detailed information is given in the American National Standard for the safe use of lasers (ANSI Z136.1-1973) and OSHA 29 CFR 1910.32 for eye protection; 21 CFR 1040 (U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s control of commercial devices); and OSHA’s 29 CFR 1926.54 construction uses. These standards cover facilities, program requirements, and safety measures. It is strongly recommended these standards be reviewed as supplementary information to be followed.

UWM’s site has the following resources:
•    Draft Laser Audit Form
•    Laser Safety Training (PPT)
•    Laser Safety Exam

Links to other resources:
• Hazards)
• Hazards)

Radiation Safety

Radiation Safety

In the past, the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh has been licensed by the State of Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to use radioactive materials (radioisotopes) for research in Halsey Science Center.  However, we terminated our license in 2010 because no faculty members were using or had a need to use such materials.

Currently, we do not have a license and no radioactive materials are present or in use on campus. We do not foresee obtaining radioactive materials licenses again in the future, but it would be possible to do so if new faculty members or new research directions required it.

The DHS and NRC both require that the use of radiation and radionuclide be strictly controlled to ensure that both the people using the materials and members of the general population receive as little radiation exposure as possible.

At UW Oshkosh, we also have a diffractometer, housed in the Department of Geology, which is used by appropriately trained geologists, physicists and chemists for X-ray diffraction studies of naturally occurring minerals as well as synthetic materials. The Radiation Safety Program oversees the safe use of this instrument and provides personal dosimetry for authorized users.

If you would like additional information on radiation safety or other radiation-related topics, please contact the Radiation Safety Officer (Dr. Nenad Stojilovic) at 920-424-4431 or email

Vacuum Safety


Many laboratory spaces require the use of vacuum systems. Several buildings have centralized vacuum systems. Vacuum may be used for:

  • Evacuating glass vessels, Dewar flasks, desiccators, cold traps, and other chambers
  • Separation procedures involving distillation and extraction

Your building’s central vacuum system is not intended and must not be used to eliminate chemical wastes. Using the system for chemical waste disposal is in violation of good environmental stewardship and applicable regulations. Improper use of the system will result in reduced service life of the system and increased maintenance costs for your department.

Prior to set-up and operation, you need to perform a risk assessment regarding potential hazards.

Vacuum work can result in an implosion, creating the hazard of flying glass and spilled chemicals. Systems at reduced pressure, which are subject to rapid pressure changes, may result in the possibility of liquids being pushed into unwanted locations.

Water-sealed or carbon rotary vane pumps can generate significant heat and friction. Therefore, when pulling a vacuum on a system that generates flammable vapors, care must be taken to ensure hazardous concentrations are not generated in the system.

Please consult with the safety committee for additional safe lab practices involving vacuum systems. Please be sure to document these procedures in your chemical hygiene plan. You need to consider:

  • How will you prevent liquids and corrosive gases from being drawn into other laboratory components or the building’s central vacuum systems? Traps (Kjeldahl) and condensers should be used to insure these chemicals do not enter the vacuum system.
  • Are relief valves are necessary for your vacuum work?
  • What methods are necessary to protect vacuum pumps?
  • What maintenance schedules are necessary, including changing the vacuum pump oil? Pump oil needs to be disposed as a chemical waste.
  • How to properly vent the vacuum pump exhaust in a safe and environmentally acceptable way? In most cases, vacuum procedures shall be performed in a fume hood.

Other laboratory safety considerations involving vacuum systems may include:

  • Glassware suitable for vacuum work
  • Inspect glassware prior to use – no cracked, etched, or scratched glassware
  • Methods used to protect from implosion
  • Wrap vessels and other glassware to reduce fragmentation upon implosion
  • Methods and safe work practices to perform distillations that involve flammable or toxic materials
  • Instructions and monitoring of lab personnel on safe and proper procedures for work involving vacuum systems