Safety Program for Shops, Studios & Makerspaces

Mission Statement

Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) and the UVA Maker Grounds Safety Committee, , envisions an incident free learning experience in our instructional environments, where students are educated and equipped to work safely. The University's instructional environments are diversified, from the traditional machine, woodworking and fabrication shops, to multi-media art studios and the emergent makerspaces. Labs may have various industrial tools and equipment to support research. All of these types of spaces can pose a hazardous environment for the student. In recognition of these hazards, EHS and the committee collaborates to develop and promote safe and effective work practices and a safety culture. Committee members and EHS help onboard new managers into the Maker Grounds Community and advises in setting up new spaces and implementing program responsibilities.

Purpose of the Safety Program for Shops, Studios & Makerspaces

The Safety Program provides current information for safety measures and best safety practices to eliminate or minimize risks. It is an evolving work in progress to meet the demands of changing technology, compliance and the needs of individuals responsible for managing the spaces. The program's success strongly depends on the Maker Grounds community's active participation to share ideas and promote a safety culture.

Roles & Responsibilities

Faculty and staff (frontline supervision)

Faculty and staff are responsible for minimizing risks of injury and illness to students in instructional environments under their supervision, oversight, advisement or support. The personnel serving in this front line of supervision are professionally trained; such as academic faculty or instructor, engineering technician, machinist, tools & equipment generalist, or trades specialist and have been designated to serve in this role by their department. Their responsibilities include:

  • Overseeing the day to day operations and overall safety of the instructional environment,
  • Overseeing the students and other users' safety working in the space,
  • Providing users with instruction on tools and equipment and the safety expectations of the space.

Using Assistants in Instructional Environments (compensated individuals)

Faculty and staff may designate Assistants (i.e. student teaching assistants/monitors or staff) to assist them with these responsibilities. In doing so they will assume the responsibility for the assistant's training relevant to the instructional environments' equipment, tools, and processes; specific procedures or safety rules beyond those outlined in UVA's User Agreement for UVA Shop, Studio, & Makerspace; and all noted safety topics included in the training section.

Faculty and staff are responsible to ensure an Assistant's working knowledge and skills are sufficient to carry out assigned responsibilities and oversee activities in the space.

Volunteers in Instructional Environments (unpaid individuals)

Faculty and staff who designate students as volunteers, to fulfill some or all of the aforementioned responsibilities, must be sure to follow the University's Policy for Volunteers here: Authorization of Volunteers in the Work Place, and complete the Volunteer Document.

Students and other Users in Instructional Environments

Students and users must complete UVA's User Agreement for UVA Shop, Studio, & Makerspace before using equipment or tools with a Hazard Category Level (HCL) greater than 1 (one). In addition, students and users must meet any additional responsibilities, assigned by faculty or staff who oversee the instructional environment.

Environmental Health & Safety (EHS)

EHS assists faculty and staff to achieve compliance with University, local, state and federal policies and regulations. We monitor University compliance through periodic inspections, consultations, program development and education. EHS staff stay abreast of emergent safety and regulatory issues through professional development and networking with other institutions; and information is readily shared with the Maker Grounds community.

Deans, Directors and Department Heads

Deans, Directors and Department Heads are responsible to provide support for a safe and compliant instructional environment for students and; will act to correct safety or regulatory deficiencies when brought to their attention by managers, supervisors or EHS.

Faculty and staff are responsible to evaluate the following areas

Hazard Evaluation

What are the steps to identify risks in my instructional environment?

A hazard evaluation is strongly recommended for new instructional environments that will have hazardous equipment or hazardous materials. The purpose of the evaluation is to recognize and assess any risks of injury or illnesses and; implement safety measures to minimize them. The hazard evaluation is a collaborative process between faculty and staff, and EHS. The evaluation may determine that additional safety measures are necessary to assure compliance with applicable codes, policies and regulations. EHS will assist with documenting the hazard evaluation and advising on implementation of identified safety measures.

Faculty and staff should contact EHS when adding new equipment, processes or materials to an existing space. EHS will review conditions in the space to determine if additional control measures may be required or recommended.

Contact EHS at 434.982.4911 for assistance with your Hazard Evaluation.


What safety training do I need to provide for students working in my instructional environments?

Faculty and staff are responsible for developing, providing and documenting specific training for all of the equipment or processes the student will use or be exposed to.

Designated and qualified staff, assistants or volunteers must receive sufficient training, and are expected to possess skills and knowledge of expected activities sufficient to oversee the students (other users) safety; and provide hands-on assistance as needed.

Communication of Equipment Operations and Hazards

  • Consult the equipment manufacturers' operation manuals to ensure equipment and tools are used, serviced and maintained as required by the manufacturer.
  • Review the machine guarding, safety enclosures and interlocks on equipment; they must not be compromised or removed.
  • Manufacturers' and UVA specific instructions and warning labels, if posted onto the equipment, must be reviewed.
  • Maintain safety, warning and operation information in a good and legible condition and replace any damaged signs or labels.

Hands-on Learning

  • Faculty and staff need to consider and plan for the students' hands-on learning to become proficient on equipment, processes or activities that will be made accessible for their use.
  • Faculty and staff are responsible to review the following safety topics with students prior to letting them work in the instructional environment: assigned personal protective equipment, the location of the Emergency Plan and emergency equipment (i.e. emergency shutoffs, fire extinguisher, first aid kits, emergency eyewash & shower and how to use it), and any other safety operational procedures that need to be followed.
  • Faculty and staff will ensure students and users complete UVA's User Agreement for UVA Shop, Studio, & Makerspace, before using equipment meeting a Hazard Category Level (HCL) greater than 1. Refer to the Equipment Hazard Classification for more information.

Online Safety Training Modules

EHS develops online safety training modules to satisfy regulatory requirements, and to enhance awareness of risks and precautionary measures for the lab, shop, studio and maker space environments (i.e. chemical safety, fall protection, personal protective equipment, etc.).

  • Chemical Safety and Waste training is required for all faculty, staff and students who meet any of the following criteria.
    1. The person works with or around chemicals or chemical products such as but not limited to: oils, lubricants, fuels, corrosives (i.e. dissolution baths for 3D support materials), paints, glues, adhesives, foams, etc
    2. The person generates hazardous waste at the University.
  • All personnel with student oversight responsibilities, including designated student volunteers, are strongly encouraged to complete the online modules Shop & Studio Safety Orientation, Fire Safety in Labs, Shops, & Studios; and to participate in hands-on, in-person, Fire Extinguisher Training. Contact EHS to schedule Fire Extinguisher training at 434.982.4911 or fire-safety@virginia.edu.
  • Faculty and staff are encouraged to use the online Safety Training and Recordkeeping (STAR) application maintained by EHS. STAR is an online application designed to help faculty and staff manage documentation of required or recommended training. When you log in through Netbadge, you will be able to select and assign various training modules created by EHS. In addition, the application allows faculty and staff to manage documentation of any specialized training that they provide locally, such as equipment and processes training. Safety training records can also be searched for here.

Student Oversight

What needs to be considered for student oversight in my instructional environment?

One very important area of reducing risks of injury and illness is to provide the appropriate level of student oversight. Faculty and staff need to evaluate equipment or processes for significant risk of injury or harm in order to determine when it is not safe for a student to work alone. Working in teams is always encouraged, even in lowest level risk spaces. Consult the Equipment Hazard Classification for categories of expected student oversight based on the inherent risk levels of equipment, or processes such as welding. Faculty and staff who are not present to provide direct student supervision in the instructional environment can facilitate students' access as follows:

  • Limit access to hours when designated staff or; designated and qualified assistants or volunteers, are present to provide instructional and monitoring oversight.
  • Instructional environments that include both lower and higher hazard category levels of equipment and tools, may consider restricting access to higher hazard category level equipment when supervision will not be available.

Implementing Safety Equipment and Infrastructure Needs

Faculty and staff are responsible for ensuring that required safety equipment and infrastructure needs, identified during a hazard evaluation of the space, are implemented in order to minimize safety and health risks to students, personnel and building occupants in the facility.

Safety equipment that may be identified include: chemical and flammable storage cabinets; fire extinguishing media; emergency eyewash and shower equipment (for immediately injurious processes such as handling corrosive materials); personal protective equipment, or engineering controls to exhaust hazardous airborne contaminants, such as chemical fume hoods or local exhaust ventilation.

Contact EHS at 434.982.4911 for assistance with your Hazard Evaluation which will help identify and recommend appropriate safety equipment.

How do I implement identified safety equipment?

Most standard safety equipment will be identified after an evaluation of: chemicals used, processes or equipment that create a health or physical hazard, high levels of noise, electrical and fire hazards, etc.

EHS is available to advise on the most appropriate equipment to purchase. Some equipment needs may require a service request with Facilities Management (e.g. eyewash installation), or additional collaboration with EHS (e.g. respiratory protection equipment).

How do I implement UVA exhaust requirements for equipment and processes that generate hazardous air contaminants?

In order to ensure that all building occupants are protected from hazardous air contaminants generated by the operation of equipment or certain processes, it is important to install a properly designed local exhaust ventilation (LEV) system. A LEV system will remove air contaminants at the source and effectively remove them away from the breathing zone of the equipment operator and outside to a safe location. In order for the system to meet local safety, environmental and building code requirements, it must be designed and reviewed through the University's permitting process.

First, contact EHS at 434.982.4911 for a Hazard Evaluation to determine the need for a LEV system. If EHS determines that an exhaust system is required, proceed to request service through Facilities Management.

Incident Investigation and Reporting

Faculty and staff are encouraged to investigate all incidents, (near misses and accidents), as a means to prevent future incidents from occurring.

Incident investigation is a formal process to determine the root cause of what led to a near miss or accident. The process does not have to be a complicated one, rather it should employ the simplest methods that will satisfactorily determine what happened and what must be implemented to prevent any future incident. Causal factors can be an individual's lack of awareness or incorrectly doing an operation, indicating training should be reevaluated. Other factors can be equipment failure or conditions of the work space.

Faculty and staff and other designated personnel who assist in the instructional environment, have the responsibility to initiate this process. It is also important to communicate "Lessons learned" to other affected individuals, the students and other users.

Assistance is available from:

Safety Self-Assessment

Are safety checklists available to help me determine if the set up in my instructional environment meets expectations of the Safety Program?

Yes! We have the following Shop, Studio & Makerspace checklists available:

Please contact EHS at 434.982.4911 if you need any assistance.

Service Satisfaction Survey
Please complete this brief survey and give us your opinion about the services Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) has provided to you. All completed surveys are sent to the Director of EHS.