Studio Safety Evaluation

This article lists some tips on conducting your own studio safety evaluation. Just as a professional would do, it may be a good idea to conduct a walk-through of your shop.

The kind of things you would look for and comment on include:

  1. Availability and condition of safety equipment
  2. Signs for emergency and safety equipment.
  3. Process flow: that is, how materials are treated, travel throughout the working processes and are made into articles
  4. Plans for fire, chemical spill, accident incidents
  5. Fire safety equipment, condition and accessibility
  6. Electrical safety, wiring, loading, grounding etc.
  7. Hazard type listing (chemical, dust, physical, ergonomic, biological etc.)
  8. Layout of workshop and analysis in terms of safety and reducing hazard
  9. Signage for safety (safety goggles, etc.)
  10. Ergonomic issues in layout and jobs performed
  11. Psychological stress problems identified from the workspace and jobs
  12. Temperature and humidity comfort levels
  13. Studio condition and maintenance
  14. Clothing, shoes etc. in safety terms, work clothing available
  15. Lighting type and adequacy
  16. Electromagnetic issues (induction crucibles etc.)
  17. Ventilation (local and general)
  18. Ventilation make-up air intake safety
  19. Housekeeping and cleanliness
  20. Sanitary facilities (sink, toilet etc.)
  21. Background noise and vibration issues
  22. Clear signage and labeling of materials, areas and hazards
  23. Chemical storage methods, containers and handling areas
  24. Chemical handling methods and equipment condition and adequacy
  25. Confined space issues
  26. Storage areas and issues
  27. First aid kit: contents and maintenance
  28. Machine and tool maintenance and condition
  29. Machine guard condition and adequacy
  30. Waste storage and disposal
  31. Worker behavior (that could mean you in a one-person shop)
  32. Worker (that could mean you)-identified safety, irritant and hazard issues
    (Kornberg 70-73) (Labour Canada 7)

Your Own Studio Evaluation

Besides inspecting your workshop as described above, it can help to make a plan of the workshop, like an architect’s plan view of a floor. Make it a fairly big one to have room to make notes on it. Then draw in walls for the rooms and list the various kinds of jobs that are done in different areas (plating, buffing etc.). Label the major equipment on the drawing. Draw in arrows to show how workpieces proceed through the shop from entry to exit. Do some cross-hatching on it to identify areas where hazardous materials are stored and some different kind of marking to show where hazardous noise is encountered. Then add to your blossoming drawing little triangles to indicate where there are airborne hazards. Finally, make little circles where accidents or near accidents have occurred in the past. Now look at your plan and see if you can rearrange jobs or equipment to make things a little safer. Think about access, confined spaces, fire and all the issues that are listed above (Labour Canada 13).

Richard Wagner points out that a problem with OSHA inspectors is their frequent lack of familiarity with a specific working process. It should be a requirement to have knowledgeable people conduct safety reviews of any work process to verify that you are not missing something obvious at the edges of your perception. One way to do a procedure analysis is to have several experienced people work together and look for what can go wrong at every step. Look for leftover issues from previous steps. Look for the effects of being left handed, or wearing glasses as well as what is obvious in a task.

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Procedure Evaluation

  1. Describe the procedure in total: what happens, what tools are used, chemicals, movements, ventilation, relationship to other procedures and work sequences in the shop Are chemicals involved?
  2. What are they?
  3. What are the chemical hazards?
  4. What will you do to prevent or avoid these chemical exposure hazards?
  5. What are the physical demands of doing the procedure?
  6. What are the physical hazards likely to occur as a result of the procedure? Name the hazard (i.e. noise, vibration, radiation, temperatures, tripping, pinching, cutting, crushing etc.)
  7. What will you do to eliminate or prevent these physical hazards? (protective equipment for instance)
  8. What machines and equipment are used in this procedure?
  9. What are the hazards of using these machines?
  10. Are machine guards needed and in place?
  11. Are machines maintained and checked for proper function?
  12. What will you do to use these machines safely?
  13. Are there any biological hazards in the procedure? (for example, legionnaires’ disease can be harbored in stagnant water from lapidary cutting)
  14. What will you do to eliminate any biological hazards?
  15. What are the ergonomic hazards that result from this procedure?
  16. What will you do to eliminate and avoid the ergonomic hazards you identified?
  17. What are any other safety hazards related to this procedure?
  18. What possible emergencies can result from doing this procedure?
  19. What are the plans for dealing with these possible emergencies?
Petersen writes that job safety analysis can be broken down to four basic steps:
  1. Select the job.
  2. Break the job down into its successive steps.
  3. Identify hazards and code violations.
  4. Eliminate or control hazards. (Petersen ASP 35)

A procedure evaluation form follows. You can use it to begin to analyze a given procedure you use in your shop. Add your own questions to improve the form.

Safety procedue Form

It may be a good idea to analyze a tasks in different ways. You can begin to identify areas where trouble lies by listing health problems that workers encounter when doing a given job. Concerns include:

Job: Problems Observed:
Where work-related injury or illness has happened __________________________________________
Where workers can no longer do a given job after an injury or an illness __________________________________________
Where workers have quit because they disliked the job __________________________________________
Where older, smaller or female workers have trouble __________________________________________
Where workers have problems maintaining quality __________________________________________
Where it takes more than three months to become skilled (hmm-that sounds like many jewelry jobs) (Rodgers 682) __________________________________________

Rodgers also suggests finding out which body parts are in danger in ergonomic and other terms by noting which ones are placed under medium to heavy stress when working. Her list includes: head, eyes, ears (hearing), neck, shoulders, chest, upper back, lower back, hips/groin, legs, knees, ankles, feet, arms, wrists, hands and fingers (Rodgers 683).

Interested in obtaining the Brain Press book on safety in the jewelry studio? The Jewelry Workshop Safety Report

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