Safety when working with metal

The process of metalworking can create risks to personal safety and health. Therefore, it is important to ensure that the safety of everyone involved in these processes is adequately protected. Risks include burns, cuts, fumes, fatigue, and lifting injuries, among others.


All standard Fab Lab Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and safety protocols must be observed when working with metal. These include but are not limited to tying back long hair, removing jewellery, and wearing long-sleeved garments including full-length pants.



Handling steel

Eye protection, gloves

Angle Grinding

Disposable P3 respirator (Preferably dual filter respirator), gloves, full face shield, ear muffs, long sleeves, leather apron


Disposable P3 respirator, leather gloves, face shield, ear muffs, long sleeves

Cleaning (acetone)

Butyl Rubber Gloves, Disposable P3 respirator, eye protection


Eye protection, ear muffs/plugs , strictly no gloves

Welding (assisting)

UV shielded welding helmet, Disposable P3 respirator, leather garments and glovesves


While specialist leather garments are available for the welding process, normal clothing requires consideration. Of particular note is the combustible nature of plastic fibres. Also synthetic fibres, in the event of an accidental fire, tend to melt and stick to the skin making it extremely differcult to treat a burn and increases its severity.

When welding or otherwise working with metal students should:

  • Never wear synthetic fibres, including but not limited to polyester, acrylic, and rayon.

  • Preferably wear full length cotton, such as denim, in areas not covered by leather PPE.

  • Remove any scarves, beanies or unnecessary clothing accessories (these items are commonly made of Acrylic fibre).


Closed toes shoes are the minimum footwear requirement in the Fab Lab. Although, it is advisable that students who are working with metal are wearing leather shoes, and where possible, leather work boots with steel caps. The steel caps are incorporated to prevent crush injuries from heavy objects. This is especially important when working with heavier or larger pieces. If a student does not have access to steel caps, they should ask for a technician's advice when dealing with heavy objects.

Particle filters

Nearly all processes involved with metalwork present some form of risk to the respiratory system. Examples are fumes when welding, dust and particles when grinding, and fumes when cleaning. Some processes will require a minimum of a P2 filtered dust or fume mask. When cleaning with acetone, an organic compound and fume filter is required.


The use of leather gloves is a necessary safety precaution in most metalworking processes. However, it is important to remember that gloves should not be used with certain spinning tools such as a drill press – the use of gloves should be at the discretion of the tool being used.

Welding Helmets

Welding Helmets and protective eye wear are necessary to protect eyes from the UV produced by the welding arc. Ensure anyone exposed to the arc has the necessary eye protection. Avoid looking directly at the arc whenever possible.

Welding screens

The welding screens protect others from ultra violet light created by a welding arc, and helps create a border as a sign that a staff member is in the process of welding.

If you are unsure about PPE requirements for your specific task, check with Workshop technicians before proceeding.

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