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

Date: 12/03/2009 Status: Final
Last Revised: 01/07/2019
Policy Type: Executive Vice President & Provost
Oversight Executive: Executive Vice President and Provost
Applies To:

Academic Division.

Reason for Policy:

Students who are compensated are afforded protection under federal and Virginia occupational safety and health workplace regulations; however, students may also participate in equivalent activities without compensation. University faculty and staff must be aware of their role in minimizing risk of injury or illness to unpaid students engaged in University supported instructional environments.

Definition of Terms in Statement:
  • Hazardous Equipment:

    Powerful equipment which presents risk of injury through mechanical or physical forces such as but not limited to: high speed cutting blades, drills, lathes, computer numerical control milling and routing machines, plasma cutters, systems involving high pressure or vacuum, etc.

  • Hazardous Materials (1):

    Hazardous chemical, biological, or radiological materials. A hazardous chemical is any chemical that can cause a physical and/or a health hazard. Hazardous chemicals include, but are not limited to, cancer- causing agents (carcinogens), reproductive toxins (teratogen, mutagen), acute toxins, corrosives, irritants, sensitizers, and flammables.

  • Instructional Environments:

    Shops, studios, makerspaces, laboratories, classrooms or other areas where education, hands-on instruction, training, research or student-supported activities are conducted, in both on- and off-grounds facilities.

Policy Statement:

Faculty and staff must take measures to minimize recognizable risks to students who may encounter hazardous equipment or materials in instructional environments (including laboratories, makerspaces, shops, studios, etc.) under their supervision, oversight, advisement, or support. Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) is a University resource available to assist in the evaluation of risk and identification of measures to achieve safety and compliance goals.

Faculty and staff who oversee instructional environments are responsible for adhering to the written safety program for shops, studios, and makerspaces. Responsibilities include but are not limited to:

  • Identifying, evaluating, and controlling recognized hazards with the assistance of EHS.
  • Limiting student access to hours when proper oversight is present.
  • Ensuring that students complete appropriate safety training modules, user agreements, and other prerequisite measures such as demonstration of proficiency prior to using hazardous equipment or materials.
  • Ensuring that emergency plans are posted.

Compliance with Policy:
Non-compliance with safety and health regulations may be subject to enforcement and penalties as defined by Code of Virginia § 40.1-49.4.


Procedural information is available on the EHS website.

Related Information:

EHS website for a range of valuable safety and health resources, including:

Safety Program for Shops, Studios and Makerspaces
Chemical Safety Plans

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

Major Category: Executive Vice President & Provost Policies
Next Scheduled Review: 01/07/2022
Approved by, Date: Executive Vice President and Provost, 12/03/2009
Revision History: Updated links 8/11/21; Updated 1/7/19; 12/13/2017, 9/16/14, 3/7/14.