190 WPI & Mass Academy
971 Spartan Robotics

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Evan is a Junior at Worcester Polytechnic Institute majoring in Mechanical Engineering. He has been involved in FIRST since 2005, and is currently a mentor for Team 190 and Team 971. Evan was president of Team 971 in 2006, and is the current Chief of Tactics on Team 190.

Basic Shop Safety

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Outlines basic shop safety rules applicable to any shop. Includes a sample safety exam to test students on proper shop rules and hand tool usage.

Basic Safety Instructions

General Safety

  • Ask the instructor to approve all work that you plan to do.
  • Report all injuries, even though slight, to the instructor.
  • Wear suitable eye protection when engaged in any activity where eye hazards may exist.
  • Be sure your clothes are safe and suitable for shop work. Remove or fasten any loose clothing. Roll loose sleeves up above your elbows. Keep your hair away from equipment while it is in operation.
  • Observe rules pertaining to the operators' safety zones.
  • Caution any other student you see violating a safety rule.
  • Report, to the instructor or shop foreman, any equipment that does not seem to be working properly.
  • Keep tools and materials from projecting over the edge of the benches whenever possible.
  • Use a brush or piece of wood to clear away dry chips and use a rag to clean oily areas.
  • Keep-the floor clear of scraps and litter.
  • Immediately wipe up any liquids spilled on the floor.
  • Place oily rags and other combustible materials in a covered metal container.
  • Keep the bench and cabinet drawers and locker doors closed.
  • Exercise care in your handling of large, heavy and long pieces of material.
  • Practice the procedure to follow in case of an earthquake, fire or other disaster.
  • Be sure that your hands are free as possible of dirt, grease and oil when using tools in the shop.
  • Always use the proper type and size of hand tool.
  • Make sure that tools you are going to use are sharp and in good working condition before using them.
  • Handle edged or pointed tools with care.
  • Make sure that when you are using a sharp-edged tool that the point is a way from you and your teammates.
  • Clamp small projects to the bench or secure them in a vise.
  • Control chisels, gouges and carving tools with one hand while using the other hand to supply the power.
  • Always pass tools to teammates with the handles first.
  • Always obtain training from the instructor before using any of the power equipment in the shop.
  • Always check adjustments on the machines before turning on the power (rotate moving cutters, blades, etc., one revolution by hand whenever and wherever possible without danger to the operator).
  • Make sure that everyone is clear of the machines before turning the power on to the machines.
  • It is mandatory that you keep all machine safety guards on the machines in their correct position.
  • Start your own machine and remain with it until you have turned it off and it has come to a complete stop.
  • Stay clear of machines being operated by other students or instructors.
  • Do not talk to a person while he or she is operating a power machine.
  • Keep your eyes on your work at all times while operating the power machines.
  • Wait to clear scrap stock from the machines until it has come to a complete stop.
  • Wait for a machine to come to a dead stop before attempting to oil, clean or adjust it.
  • Do not engage in any form of "horse play" while in the shop.
  • Think Safety at All Times

Hand Tool Safety

  • Never use a power tool until it is at full speed and never use it while it is coasting
  • Do not use a power tool as a workbench.
  • Never use a tool that is dull or improperly set.
  • Make no adjustments on a tool while it is in motion.
  • Stand on a dry place while using all portable power tools.
  • All portable tools should be grounded.
  • Before using any power tool, turn on power, stand to one side, and be alert for dangerous irregularities of sound or sight.
  • When it becomes necessary to touch moving parts the main-switch should first be turned off or the plug should be pulled.
  • Fingers should not come closer than two inches to a blade while cutting.
  • Determine the proper cutting procedure by keeping in mind that all turns must be made gradually, as short, sudden twists might break the blade.
  • If the blade should break, shut off the power and notify the instructor.
  • See that no part of you is in line with the blade.
  • Line up cut before turning on power.
  • Never leave a chuck wrench or key in the chuck.
  • Drill cuts should be slow and cautious, particularly when they are breaking through the stock.
  • Never grind on side of a wheel.
  • Be sure drill is chucked tightly.
  • Never insert anything in vent holes.
  • Do not crowd the feed or force a bit.
  • Avoid placing any type of power tool on a bench while it is running.
  • Do not slow down a tool by hand.

Machine Tool Safety

Portable Saber Saw

  • The electrical power cord must be unplugged while making all adjustments.
  • The blade must be securely fastened.
  • Loose clothing and/or long hair must be secured.
  • Keep fingers away from the blade.
  • Hold saw firmly against work.
  • Do not lift the saw from the work while it is running.
  • Feed the saw toward the stock using both hands.
  • Make sure the stock is held securely.

Portable Electric Drill

  • Always remove the chuck key before turning on the drill.
  • Make sure to keep the electric drill plug and cord out of the working area.
  • As the drift breaks through the stock, decrease the pressure.
  • When you have finished with the drill, always remove bits and put drill in proper place.

Jig Saw (Scroll Saw)

  • Make certain that the teeth on the blade point downward.
  • Make sure the blade is correctly fastened in the upper and lower chuck.
  • Use the correct blade for the stock.
  • Adjust the guide assembly so the hold down clamp exerts a slight pressure on the top of the piece being cut.
  • If possible rotate the motor shaft by hand a few turns to assure correct operation.
  • Use both hands on the material being cut.
  • Keep your fingers on each side of the blade, not directly in front.
  • Turn the switch off before backing the blade out.

Horizontal / Vertical Band Saw

  • Make adjustments with the power off, except for blade speed.
  • Use both hands and keep fingers at least 4" away from the blade.
  • Keep upper guide within1/4" from the material being cut.
  • Saw curves gradually. Sudden may break the blade. (Make relief cuts if necessary)
  • If the blade breaks, turn the power off and step back.
  • Avoid backing out of cuts with the power on.
  • Do not cut cylindrical stock without a “v” block clamp.
  • Remove scrap pieces from the table only after the blade has stopped.
  • Do not leave the machine until the blade has stopped.

Sanding Machines

  • Only one person should use the sanding machine at a time.
  • Keep fingers and hands away from the sanding belt or disk.
  • Use both hands to hold the stock.
  • Always sand on the side of the disk that is rotating down toward the table.
  • Always keep the work piece moving across the surface area.
  • Do not put a lot of pressure on the sander.
  • Work to be sanded by a portable belt sander must be securely fastened.
  • Using both hands to hold a portable belt sander.
  • Keep electrical cord away from sanding belt.
  • Choose the right belt for the job. (course, medium, or fine)
  • Small, thin work should always be sanded by hand.
  • Never touch the rotating sanding spindle
  • Stand to one side of the machine when it is in operation.
  • Check wood for nails, loose knots and other defects.
  • Do not take cuts over 1/16" deep.

Drill Press

  • Make all adjustments or setups with the power off.
  • Select the proper bit for the material to be drilled.
  • Fasten the bit in the chuck securely before using the machine.
  • Always remove the key from the chuck before turning on the power.
  • Be sure the speed is not too fast for larger bits.
  • Clamp all objects with a vise or clamps.
  • When possible use a block of wood for a 'back-up' so that you do not drill into the table.
  • Do not leave the machine until the drift has stopped.
  • Do not stop the spindle by hand.

Radial Arm / Cutoff Saw

  • Hold the stock firmly against the table fence.
  • Be sure the blade is sharp and mounted properly.
  • Keep the safety guard and anti-kickback device in place.
  • Always keep your hands away from the saw blade's path and at least 6" away from the blade.
  • Stand to one side of the saw.
  • When ripping narrow stock, always use a push stick.
  • Make all adjustments and setups with power off.


  • Never grind on the side of a grinding wheel.
  • Stand to one side when grinding.
  • Never grind on a grinding wheel that has cracks or defects.
  • The tool rest should never be more than 1/8” from grinding wheel


  • Do not touch live electrical parts.
  • Work in a dry area.
  • Turn off all equipment when not in use.
  • Keep fumes and gases away from your body.
  • ARC rays can burn eyes and skin.
  • Welding can cause fire or explosion.
  • Always wear eye protection with protective welding helmet.
  • Be careful of hot welded parts.
  • Wear protective clothing of flame-resistant material when welding.
  • Always use equipment that is well maintained.

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