Shop Safety at Work and Home

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Here are some key points.

  • Electrical and fire hazards may be present in a shop.
  • Good housekeeping is a way to help keep a shop safe.
  • Dress appropriately, and wear the appropriate PPE.

The importance of a safe shop

  • Working in a shop, whether here or at home, may not seem to present many dangers.
  • But whether you’re repairing agricultural equipment, welding, or just using the shop for storage, there are certain potential hazards to watch out for. Among them are:
    • electrical hazards
    • fire hazards
    • poor lighting
    • inadequate ventilation
    • messy or slippery floors
    • blocked exits or walkways
    • missing machinery guards or shields

Fire and electrical hazards

  • It’s important to regularly check the shop for any fire hazards.
  • Fires or explosions can result from the use of power tools or other electrical equipment that overheats or sparks; welding too close to combustible materials; storing oily rags, flammable liquids or other combustible materials in the shop; smoking while painting or operating electrical equipment; painting or welding in an area with inadequate ventilation; or failing to clean up a chemical spill.
  • Additional electrical hazards that may result in a fire include overloaded outlets; sparks from electric motors; loose connections; frayed cords; the failure to ground electrical equipment; or using a household-grade extension cord to operate power tools.
  • Be sure the shop has a multipurpose fire extinguisher that is regularly inspected and charged. Also, be sure the electrical equipment you operate is double insulated or grounded.
  • Know where our first aid kits are located, and what phone number to call in an emergency.

Good housekeeping

Paying close attention to good housekeeping will help keep a shop safe. Be sure that you:
  • remove any trash, packing materials, or other items that shouldn’t be on the floor
  • immediately clean up spills, and make sure the floor is dry (See your supervisor if you have not been specifically trained in cleaning up chemical spills.)
  • pick up tools and other equipment after each use
  • make sure entrances and exits are not blocked
  • thoroughly clean your own work area, and sweep the floor before you leave

Other important safety tips

  1. Use ground fault circuit interrupters when operating power washers or when using tools in damp or wet areas.
  2. Make sure safety guards and shields are in good repair and in place on all machinery and tools. Don’t use machinery if unguarded.
  3. Make sure any portable ladders are properly stored and in good repair.
  4. Dress appropriately, and use personal protective equipment (PPE) when painting, welding or operating other electrical equipment. Appropriate clothes to wear when working in a shop include a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, and sturdy shoes with non-slip soles. (Steel-toed shoes or boots may be required for some jobs.) PPE may include shielded safety glasses or goggles, earmuffs or earplugs, a face shield, a dust/mist respirator, chemical-resistant gloves, a protective apron, and/or welding shields.
  5. Make sure any welding is done far away from combustibles and in an area with adequate ventilation.
  6. Make sure jack stands or blocks are available to safely block equipment.
  7. Store any chemicals in proper containers with proper labels. Paints and other flammables should be stored in locked chemical storage cabinets.
  8. Check lighting. Make sure all lights have lens covers.

Shop Safety Do’s and Don’ts


  • Keep the shop organized. Make sure everything is in its correct place.
  • Inspect chain hoists before each use to make sure they are secure and don’t have cracked links.
  • Turn off and unplug electrical equipment when not in use.
  • Smoke while working in a shop.
  • Store items on steps or on fixed ladders.
  • Let children or other unauthorized people in the shop.

When you’re ready to work safely, you’re ready to work. See our full line of safety supplies, including respirators, eye and ear protection, coveralls, first aid and more.

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