Shop Safety Guidelines

Northwestern University's shop safety guidelines outline a comprehensive program for shop safety developed by a Provost-appointed committee of senior faculty and staff members with experience in the wide range of shops at Northwestern. These guidelines cover the sciences, theater and Facilities Management shops.

Shop and fabrication activities play an important role in education and research at Northwestern University. Safety is a shared responsibility that involves the institution, the user, faculty and staff. Comprehensive safety emerges only when all aspects are considered: the tools and environment, the individuals, as well as the devices and materials being used and fabricated. Collectively and individually, the focus must be on establishing, supporting and maintaining a University-wide culture of safety.

For purposes of these guidelines a shop is defined as any area where one or more of the following pieces of equipment are used by students and/or employees: lathes, surface grinders, milling machines, table saws, radial arm saws and/or nail guns.

The following shops and responsible parties have been identified and are subject to these guidelines:

  • Biomedical Engineering Machine Shop - Tech EB53 - Mark Johnson, Safety Officer
  • Theater Interpretation Center Shop - 1949 Campus Drive - Santosha Chantal, Master Carpenter
  • Physics and Astronomy Student Shop - Tech NG-36 - James Hahn
  • Facilities Management Shop(s) - 910 University Place - Vincent Geraci, Manager of Maintenance Trades
  • Segal Design Institute - Ford B-300 - Robert Taglia and Scott Simpson, Senior Design and Prototyping Specialists
  • Scientific Instrument Shop - Tech NG-40 - Jeffrey Sundwall, Manager
  • Physiology Shop - 5th Floor Morton - Jim Baker, Professor, Physiology

Each shop shall develop and implement a written safety policy. The safety policy must address various topics, including but not limited to: shop access, hours of operation, training, shop and safety equipment, rules of conduct, safety postings, emergency telephone numbers and incident reporting guidelines.

The following rules are common to all shops and shall be incorporated into each shop's written safety policy.

  1. Prominently post at the shop door a primary and secondary shop contact with phone numbers.
  2. Post the requirements for authorized shop access at the door.
  3. Post emergency communication procedures in the shop.
  4. Make provisions to control shop access to authorized persons and mandate a supervisor or in-person buddy system when using equipment identified in the shop definition. Equipment cannot be used unless there is someone else present in the shop within eyesight of the equipment operator.
  5. Certify authorized shop users through training and skill's assessments and keep a record of certifications.
  6. Make provisions for personal protective equipment and hearing protection.
  7. Mandate a dress code including a mandate on safety glasses, closed toed shoes, removal of rings, watches and jewelry and the tie back of long or medium length hair.
  8. Make the manufacturers' tool manuals accessible to users and enforce machine operating, cleaning, and adjustment procedures.
  9. Provide machine guards and point of operation guarding in accordance with OSHA regulations.
  10. Inspect equipment regularly. Make provisions for tool repairs of equipment identified in the shop definition. Mandate the lock-out or tag-out of equipment that is taken out of service ensuring that the equipment is not used.
  11. Establish and post in the shop a written code of conduct including provisions for enforcement.

Each shop will annually review its safety policy and update it as necessary. Manuals shall be revised as necessary based on any lessons learned from training drills or exercises and after an incident occurs.

The Office of Risk Management will conduct semi-annual safety audits of each of the shops on campus and will follow up by ensuring that any necessary remediation work is accomplished. The audit will consist of a physical review of the shop room infrastructure. The audit will also include verification of signage and postings, requisite safety supplies and personal protective equipment, and housekeeping and waste management. Training histories for employees and students will also be reviewed, as will the room and tool access policies. The audit also will include verification of tool condition and safeguarding. The Director of Risk Management shall provide a report of the audit findings to the Vice President for Research and the Provost.

These guidelines shall be reviewed periodically by the Shop Safety Committee appointed by the Provost.