Safety question #3: Know your locations

Hey Makers - I’m posting up lots of safety questions to the forum this month leading up to our general meeting which will be about safety.

Hit reply on this topic to answer and discuss the question, or take this survey if you want to be anonymous:

Today’s question is sort of a boring almost yes or no thing but here goes:
Do you know the location of our safety equipment? Especially PPE, fire extinguishers, first aid kits and AEDs? When’s the last time you walked around and made sure for your own knowledge that you could find these things, and is there anything else we need to make sure everyone is able to locate? Quiz a friend this week, it’ll be fun!


When we did the walk through with the fireman, it made me realize I need to pay more attention and we need to do a safety check quarterly. now that we know what to look for.

Hi Malissa I’m a newbie. You may of already shared with the group but what are some of the things the fire dept advised you to look for?

The letter below is from Mike Barushok on the Admin list. The admin list is for any member who wants to be informed of everything at the maker space. I didn’t go on the entire walk, I was needed elsewhere.

I did notice while taking notes that I was missing some of what he was
saying. So, others may need to add to this anything I did not write

Some of the deficiencies were things he noticed while in a particular
area, but that definitely apply everywhere. So, for instance I wrote
down a few times his mentions of a particular extension cord being a
problem, but he stated more than once that they are a problem almost
everywhere. Specifically, extension cords on or near the floor are
trip hazards, they are not a good permanent substitute for locating
equipment near an outlet or adding an outlet near the equipment. Exit
paths need better marked.

Lit exit signs need to be visible from anywhere there are multiple
possible looking ways to get to an exit.

Exit route maps need to be posted for each area within that area (near
light switches are good places) and the overall floor plan needs to be
available, visible from each entrance and also ideally in a format
that a responder can take with them as they navigate the building.
Near the alarm panel was suggested for locating laminated copies of
the floor plan. The floor plan should identify power panels and heat
producing appliances like the furnace and water heaters.
The trauma bag(s) and AED should be identified on all floor plan and
exit route maps.

Emergency contact phone numbers should be posted outside near each door.

Extension cords can NEVER be plugged into power strips.

Both power panels and both water heaters need a minimum three foot
clear zone all the way down to the floor.

In Ceramics, besides the above concerning the water heater, the fire
extinguisher needs to be on a hanger, with a clear zone and with a
sign above and preferred to be near the door. Re position the wheels
closer to outlets, or put longer permanent cords on them and put cord
protection on top of cords to eliminate trip hazard. Power cord to
exhaust fan needs to be supported with separation from metal shelves.

In Wood shop, besides clear zone around breaker panel all the way to
the floor, the unoccupied spaces in the panel need blank close outs.
Clear the space in front of the fire extinguisher (all the way down to
the floor).

In Metal shop, clear space around fire extinguisher all the way to the
floor. Suggested moving trauma bag near the AED, or getting a second
one to locate there. Arrows on floors in aisles pointing to exits
would be a big help. Clear the aisle leading to the side door. Move
the lit exit sign back to the wall above the door. Clean up and
enclose all wiring at the side door interface to the alarm/door
system. Emergency stop button for CNC plasma cutter needs moved where
not blocked by anything. Extension cord draped over welding curtain
should not be left there or left plugged in when not in actual use.
Plug or cap unconnected gas line where forge was provisioned, valves
are not long term leak proof. Consider placing a ‘704’ placard outside
because of oxidant and pressurized inflammable gas cylinders.

Classroom needs visible exit signage. Consider asking landlord for
outward opening door(s) in West wall.

Textiles need to eliminate extension cords plugged into power strips.

Storage closed off classroom relocate fire extinguisher outside of doorway.

Jewelry find out about propane, butane, map gas, oxygen cylinder
safety. [My personal feeling is that small bottles need to have
designated holding area where they can’t fall over and roll around].

Cleaning product shelves outside of north restroom, separate
incompatible products (like those with chlorine away from those with
ammonia). Make sure everything is well labeled. Provide MSDS’s and a
list of products physically separated from products preferably near
outside doors.

Studios need floors clear of everything. (Everything stored on
shelves). No areas hidden from easy view when someone with a face
mask, helmet, using a flashlight is looking for victims.

Administrative closet (office), close out power panels, even if power
is shut off to them. No storage on floor.

Lounge power cord cannot be run over ceiling for TV/Video/Game area.
Provide an outlet where the power is needed. Electrical outlet at
cardboard rocket needs moved or covered with blank plate.

Water heater closet, no storage on floor. Provide three foot minimum
clearance around water heater.

Furnace closet, no storage near furnace. No storage on floor. Unblock
doors. Sign stating furnace at eye level on door.

Print shop clever way of hanging extension cord off the floor. Too
clever, provide outlet(s) where needed.

Hallway around classroom, move fire extinguisher to adjacent wall, and
add signs. Suggested painting exit arrows on floor.

Front area (Co-working, Fab lab, Gallery. Provide alarm panel
instruction on wall near alarm panel. Unblock fire pull handle area
and alarm panel area.

Note that the person doing the informal inspection was looking from
the perspective of what a fire or EMS responder would like or need to
see to be able to respond safely, quickly, and effectively to an
emergency call. He was not inspecting to and claimed not to know much
about actual code requirements. So, there may almost certainly be
things he did not look for that reduce the chance of an emergency
occurring in the first place, if those things don’t matter much to the
response to the emergency. One example of this is that he could not
address what kind of limits to numbers of occupants we would have with
the current floor plan and egress points.

Hopefully I did not leave too much out. I did remember some things he
said while typing this that I had not written in my notes.

Mike B

Two additional long term concerns not covered in these comments:

  1. Rear exit door should open outward and have crash bar or similar,

  2. Need usable window exit as a second exit from ceramics studio area.


Almost sorry I asked. It looks as if some of these could eventually involve fines our worst case senerio, closure. I’m not an electrician but would be more than happy to assist with whatever needs to be done if given the proper instruction. Please let me know if there is something I can help with.


Just a side note - I think Mike was referring to the very small, handheld propane bottles being stored where they cannot fall over in Jewelry. The O2 and Propane cylinders under the work surface are chained.

I do try to walk people around, show them light switches, fire extinguishers, first aid kits, etc. when I issue a key. It will help to have signage additionally.

David is correct, the concern with small hand torches is when they are not in use, they need to be where they aren’t rolling around on the bench or falling onto the floor, but also, remember, if there were a fire, they need to not become missiles.

First let me say this wasn’t an official visit, it was an experienced friend of ours who generously agreed to give some advice. And we got advice for sure, this is quite a laundry list, but don’t be sorry you asked. We will chip away at it :slight_smile:

The extension cord advice was eye-opening and I’ve been looking all over the place now at the way I use extension cords at home, work, and the space. I knew not to cut the dang grounds off to make it fit a two-plug outlet but I figured after that, safe! But no. There are good resources to find everywhere:

Extension cords should never be used permanently. Pay attention to ratings. Cords have a tag on them with their rating, if they don’t they are printed with gage and you can use the length to find their rating - there’s charts. Lots of power strips will have an easier to find rating. But this rating advice can really get complicated if you’re plugging extension cords into power strips into outlet dividers so hey, don’t do that!

“outlet adding” needs to be high on our to-do list. It’s not that hard, and we’re talking about a few ways to attack it, but we need to spread awareness first to every member who’s setting up equipment for permanent use.

I did notice the water dispenser has the ground prong removed.

Re: Water dispenser cord.

It looks like a standard IEC cord that has been modified, so it can be replaced with an unmodified one, once the receptacle is a grounded three wire receptacle (or once the water dispenser is moved to be within reach of another receptacle).