Meganiese en Megatroniese Ingenieurswese – Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering
Safety procedures for laboratory setups
These safety procedures are applicable to Mechanical and Mechatronic Projects, as well as all
postgraduate students. The safety procedures that must be followed for each new laboratory setup
(or a change to a setup), are described below:
1. Determine the potential risks the setup holds for:
• The health and safety of the people who are going to use the setup.
• The health and safety of the people who are in close proximity to the setup.
• The equipment itself, the environment and surrounding buildings.
Examples of risks that must be considered are:
• uncontrolled accumulation of flammable gases;
• inadequate protection from fast rotating masses, such as shafts and fans; and
• inadequate insulation of electrical equipment, especially when working with water.
2. Determine the steps that can be reasonably accomplished to minimise the risks, taking the
following into account:
• Seriousness and scope of the risk.
• Availability of knowledge regarding the risk, and methods to minimise/remove the risk.
• Availability and appropriateness of methods to minimise/remove the risk.
• The costs involved to minimise/remove the risk with respect to the associated
• The project must be stopped if funding is not available to minimise/remove significant
3. Design the laboratory setup with the above-mentioned factors in mind. Examples of
measures that can be taken are:
• use personal protective equipment;
• protective screens on rotating machinery;
• adequate ventilation to avoid accumulation of gases;
• adequate insulation of electrical equipment, as well as an emergency stop; and
• maintaining good housekeeping at all times.
4. Compile safety and operating instructions with the above-mentioned in mind.
5. Compile housekeeping instructions with the above-mentioned in mind.
6. Present the design, safety instructions and housekeeping instructions to your project
supervisor. The supervisor must approve the design and safety procedures by signing your
document, after which the technician responsible for the laboratory, must also approve it by
signing it. The original singed document must then be handed over to the laboratory
manager (Cobus Zietsman), and a copy of the signed document must be displayed next to
Departement Meganiese en Megatroniese Department of Mechanical and Mechatronic
Ingenieurswese Tel: +27 (0) 21 808 4376 Engineering
Privaatsak X1 Faks/Fax: +27 (0) 21 808 4958 Private Bax X1
7602 MATIELAND E-pos/E-mail: email@example.com 7602 MATIELAND
Suid-Afrika South Africa
the laboratory setup. Experiments will not be allowed if these steps have not been taken.
7. Table 1 lists examples of typical risks, their impact on design and operating instructions. It
may be used as a guideline.
Table 1: Examples of risks, their impact and operating instructions
Risk Design impact Operating instructions
Moving equipment • Provide emergency stop (large, • Ensure that screens are in
red switch, easily accessible). position before equipment is
• Protective screens over moving switched on.
parts (compulsory for V-belts, • Disconnect power before
chains and shafts). working on equipment.
Flammable liquids and • Provide purging of equipment • Ventilate before switching on.
gases where flammable liquids or gases • Stop fuel first, then air flow
are being used. during shutdown.
• Provide drainage holes that can
prevent accumulation of liquids.
Gases that can accumulate • Ensure adequate ventilation by • Ventilate adequately before
leading to asphyxiation supplying e.g. fans. use/entry.
Structure that can fail • Take accidental transverse • Screen environment.
causing heavy objects to forces and stability into account. • Wear safety shoes.
fall • Wear a hard-hat.
People working on • Provide safety ladders and • Use safety harness.
scaffoldings from where handrails.
they can fall
High noise levels • Screen off the noisy • Wear ear protection.
High temperatures • Screen and prevent people from • Ensure screens are in position
accidentally accessing the warm before use.
area. • Ensure that coolant is flowing.
• Conduct warm gases to an area
where it can mix safely with cold
Intense light (lasers) • Screen the environment. • Wear safety glasses.
Electric shock • Provide emergency stop. • Ensure that emergency stops
• Use fuses. are easily accessible.
• Visual feedback that power is • Ensure that screens are in
switched on (e.g. LEDs). position.
• Insulate live wires.
High pressure gas or • Provide pressure regulators and • Ensure that pressure relief
liquids pressure relief valves. valves are working properly.
• Screen piping to ensure that • Ensure that couplings are
leaks cannot cause firmly connected.
damage/injuries. • Examine pipes for external