PROV-007: Safety of Students Working in Laboratories, Shops, and Studios

Date: 12/03/2009 Status: Final
Last Revised: 12/13/2017
Policy Type: Executive Vice President & Provost
Oversight Executive: Executive Vice President and Provost
Applies To: University faculty who supervise laboratories, shops, studios or instructional environments where students may encounter hazardous conditions or equipment.
Reason for Policy:

University faculty must be aware of their role in minimizing risks encountered by students engaged in University sponsored instructional environments; and the guidelines and resources available for risk minimization.

Policy Summary:

This policy defines faculty responsibilities and provides guidelines and resources available to faculty for minimizing risks to students engaged in instructional environments under their supervision.

Definition of Terms in Statement:
  • Hazardous Equipment:

    Powerful equipment such as but not limited to: high speed cutting blades, drills, lathes, state of the art CNC milling machines and plasma cutters, etc., made available to University students. Note: These types of equipment may have a larger focus within this policy but should not occlude similar considerations for other types used in the learning and research laboratory (e.g., hydraulic pumps, vacuum systems and high pressure gases to list a few).

  • Instructional Environments:

    Include, but are not limited to, classrooms, laboratories, shops and other on- and off-Grounds facilities where instructional or research activities are conducted.

Policy Statement:

Faculty are responsible for taking measures to minimize recognizable and foreseeable hazards that may exist in instructional environments under their supervision. Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) is a University resource to offer guidance and assistance to faculty in achieving these goals.


Guidelines/Best Safety Practices:

  1. Hazard Evaluation: Faculty are advised to evaluate instructional environments for recognized or potential safety and health hazards and consult with EHS to assist with hazard evaluation. See Hazard Classifications for Shop Equipment (Tools) and Injury Prevention Measures. See Related Information below for other available resources.

  2. Student Oversight: Faculty are advised to address and discourage students from working alone in instructional environments; this is particularly applicable in shop and studios areas where hazardous equipment is used. Suggested alternatives for providing access to these instructional areas to students include:

    • Limit access to designated hours when faculty are present;
    • Limit access to designated hours when designated staff or students are present to provide instructional oversight.   Designated staff or student(s) have sufficient training, skills and knowledge of the activity to oversee the safety of students as well as provide hands-on assistance as needed by the students.
  3. Training: Go to the EHS homepage and select Shop &Studio Safety from the alphabetical menu on the left hand margin. This webpage, Shop &Studio Safety, is supplementary to this policy and has a host of helpful and relevant safety topics. Required and recommended online training modules can be accessed at this site to assist faculty with training. These modules were developed to enhance awareness of risks and precautionary measures:

    • Shop & Studio Safety Orientation (this module was developed for students),
    • Eye Protectionn,
    • Physical Hazards,
    • Housekeeping Practices in Research Labs (also applicable for shop and studio environments),
    • Glove Selectionn,
    • Compressed Gas Cylinder and Regulator Safety, and
    • Chemical Storage.

    Faculty, lab managers and supervisors are encouraged to assign these modules as deemed applicable for the working environment. Please see our new Safety Tracking and Recording Keeping (STAR) on the EHS homepage. STAR is an online application which will help faculty and staff to manage documentation of Federally required training and research related compliance data at the University of Virginia. In addition, the application will also help faculty and staff to manage documentation of any specialized training that they provide locally.

Additionally, faculty are encouraged to provide training that addresses risks that may be encountered in their specific, supervised instructional environment. The following may be considered: Hands-on learning to become proficient on equipment, processes or activities that will be accessible to the students; recognition of protective measures such as machine guards and warning labels posted onto equipment; personal protective equipment assigned or made available to students to avoid injuries and other pertinent training deemed appropriate by the faculty.

  1. Emergency Plans: Faculty are encouraged to have a plan in place for emergencies, injuries or incidents. Emergency Contact information for Police, Fire and Rescue department (911), the Principal Investigator, Lab Manger and/or Supervisor should be posted. The building address should be included with the contact information to quickly direct emergency responders to the site.

Students should be aware of where to report if they have a serious injury that needs medical attention. In the case of a non-life threatening injury during normal business hours, undergraduate students should contact the Elson Student Health Center for treatment. Graduate students or other compensated students should contact UVA Work Med for treatment After hours, students with an urgent medical problem should visit the UVa Hospital Emergency Room.

In an emergency or life-threatening situation, call 911.

Faculty can consult with EHS to re-evaluate the hazard that may have led to an injury or incident. EHS will assist with recommendations on how to prevent a re-occurrence.

Related Information:

Consult University Health & Safety Policies contained in the Policy Directory that may be relevant for the faculty’s specific laboratory, experiment, process or project. Search by Policy Category - Safety, Security and Environmental Quality.   

Other Related Information: Consult the EHS website for a range of valuable safety and health resources, particularly its page dedicated to Shop and Studio Safety.

Major Category: Executive Vice President & Provost Policies
Next Scheduled Review: 09/18/2017
Approved by, Date: Executive Vice President and Provost, 12/03/2009
Revision History: Updated 12/13/2017, 9/16/14, 3/7/14.