Shop Safety

image of a crowded workshop

If it pushes, pulls, spins or moves, info for staying safe is here.

Topics on this page

Shop Safety Sub-pages

Individuals who work outside should refer to the Extreme Temperatures section of the Occupational Health & Safety page for safety information.

Important Shop Safety Reminder

Ladder Safety

Falls from ladders are one of the leading causes of occupational injury and fatalities. Every day 2,000 people are injured while using a ladder and at least one of those injuries will result in death. These injuries happen both on and off the job. Take time to familiarize yourself with proper ladder safety, and remember to inspect your ladder before each use. 

Washington State Labor & Industries has the following 10 tips for ladder safety:

  1. Carefully inspect the ladder for defects, checking for crack, corrosion and that the bolts and rivets are secure. Tag and remove unsafe ladders from service.
  2. Make sure the ladder’s feet work properly and have slip-resistant pads.
  3. Use a fiberglass ladder if there is any chance of contact with electricity.
  4. When setting the ladder, look for a safe location with firm, level footing and rigid support for the top of the ladder. Be sure to set it an an angle per the manufacturer’s guidance.
  5. When climbing off a ladder at an upper level, make sure the ladder extends three feet above the landing.
  6. When climbing the ladder, use three points of contact – keep one hand and both feet or both hands and one foot in contact with the ladder at all times.
  7. Never carry any load that could cause you to loose balance.
  8. Never stand on the top of a ladder.
  9. Don’t pull, lean, stretch or make any sudden moves on a ladder that could cause you to tip over. A scaffold or other safe working surface may be a better choice for your task.
  10. Avoid setting the ladder near exit doors, near the path of pedestrian or vehicular traffic.

Ladder Safety Training

Werner Do’s and Don’ts of Ladder Climbing

A quick overview of the right and wrong way to use a ladder from Werner.

The Ladder Inspection Form on the right is a PDF that can be used to walk through a proper ladder inspection. Ladders should be inspected before each use for safety.

Featherlite Ladder Safety Guide

Save this Featherlite Industrial Ladders PDF and use it to review ladder selection and safe ladder use.

Little Giant Ladder Safety

Little Giant’s ladder safety page has information about common ladder problems, some instructional videos, and articles about recent safety issues.

Asbestos Awareness


Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral.  There are two types of asbestos minerals (serpentine & amphiboles) which are then divided into six different forms of the mineral (see table below). There are important distinctions to be made between different types of asbestos minerals due to the differences in their chemical composition and their degree of potency as a health hazard when inhaled.

NameFiber TypeNotes
Amositeamphibolebrown asbestos, hydrophobic
Chrysotileserpentineaccounts for more than 90% of asbestos in use
Crocidolitebarbed amphiboleblue asbestos, this is the most hazardous for health

Asbestos fibers are virtually indestructible. They are resistant to chemicals and heat, and are very stable in the environment. They do not evaporate into air or dissolve in water, and are not broken down over time. Asbestos is probably the best insulator known to man. Because asbestos has so many useful properties, it has been used in over 3,000 different products.

Three categories of asbestos materials exist:

  1. Thermal Systems Insulation; for heat systems including piping, boilers, steam systems, etc.
  2. Miscellaneous; the largest category, these materials usually have asbestos incorporated into a substrate for application use
  3. Surfacing; application of asbestos over an area by spray-on, troweling, or other means, for heat or resilience purposes

Asbestos Hazards

Asbestos is a respirable inhalation hazard resulting in diseases such as: Asbestosis, Mesothelioma, and various cancers, especially various form of lung cancer. Penetration of fibers in body tissues can result in transference damage in the esophagus, colon, stomach, kidneys, and other body organs.

Asbestos is most dangerous when friable: Asbestos-containing material that, when dry, can be crumbled, pulverized, or reduced to powder by hand pressure or by forces expected to act upon the material.

Asbestos Regulation

Regulation of asbestos is based upon emission releases and worker safety. Current standards apply to content of materials containing <1% or more asbestos content. Asbestos fibers are defined as: A ratio minimum of 3:1 in length to width, with average width ~ 5 micrometers. A human hair is around 80 micrometers. The exposure limit for employees in the State of Washington is <0.1 fibers per cubic centimeter for an 8 TWA or a Maximum Use Concentration of 1.0 fiber per cubic centimeter within 30 days.

Asbestos Training

Asbestos workers are required to receive annual training according to the Washington State Administrative Codes (WAC) and OSHA.

In accordance with WAC 296-62-07722, EH&S offers training for employees who may contact, but do not disturb asbestos containing materials (ACM). Employees whose work involves the disturbance of ACM are required to have training from an outside source.

Lead Awareness

Lead is a natural occurring mineral found in many materials. From ancient to current times, lead has been incorporated into cosmetics, metallurgy, art and hobby items, jewelry, inking, hair dyes, paints, various medicinal products, and many industrial applications.

Lead derivatives provides resilience that allows products not to crack through, wear, or with temperature variations can expand and contract in unison with the base metal to which it is attached. In addition, the chemical nature of lead causes it to provide corrosion resistance as well.

Lead Hazards

Research in the early 1900’s revealed exposures to lead containing materials resulted in first-year infant defects/deaths, infertility, and stillbirths. Older children’s exposures were correlated to household dusts and lead-containing paints, toys, and polluted air from fuels and smelters.  Activities. Like nail-biting, thumb-sucking, and eating with contaminated fingers and hands elevated blood lead content.

Lead can enter the body by inhalation-breathing; ingestion-eating; and absorption-bodily contact. Effects can be acute-short term resulting in metallic tastes in the mouth, stomach pain and vomiting, diarrhea. Extreme exposures result in nervous systems damage, respiratory arrest, comas, and even death.

Additionally, chronic exposures to lead show signs of a loss of appetite, excessive tiredness, yellowing of the skin, insomnia, headaches, tremors, hyperactivity, kidney failure, and a loss of cognitive function, hair, and weight. When handling lead products: do not create any dusts, damage the product substrate if possible, or consume any food/drink items until clear of the lead work area and hygienic washing has occurred.

Lead is stored in the bones, blood, fatty tissues, and the organs of the body for long periods of time past exposure. Tests for lead levels in the body are measured by lead circulating within the blood. Current standards for adults, limit lead to 50 micrograms per deciliter, as Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL). Effects to children are extremely dangerous at this level, contributing to restricted development of the body and cognitive functions as maturation progresses over time.

Lead hazards were brought into the spotlight in the last few years by the Flint, Michigan water crisis. When the city switched their water source in an effort to save money the untreated water brought in from the Flint River corroded the protective layer on the water pipes and resulted in high levels of lead leaching into the city’s water supply.

EH&S currently samples paints and building materials for occupational work exposures, release prevention, and waste stream designations. Suspect materials are wiped or captured for analysis by a certified laboratory. Determination of lead content determine means of work on campus for abatement, enclosure/encapsulation, stabilization of building material as to limit exposure to all University personnel, students, and visitors.

Lead awareness is taught along with asbestos awareness to employees whose work may cause them to encounter lead containing materials.

Silica Awareness

Information about silica and the new Washington State regulations regarding work with silica is coming soon.