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1.11 Visual Arts

Vice President of Business Affairs

Office of Environmental, Health, Safety & Hazardous Waste

Posted On: July 24, 2013 |


  1. To provide basic information for working safely with chemicals and operations in Visual Arts.


  1. The department head has responsibility for oversight of health and safety within the department and is principal contact for faculty, staff and students to address health and safety issues or concerns.
  2.   Faculty / staff are responsible for ensuring that students:
    1.   Understand the potential health and physical hazards of the chemicals and equipment used.
    2.   Know proper and safe procedures for handling and storing hazardous substances used.
    3.   Are provided with appropriate equipment to allow safe work.
  3.   Faculty / staff are responsible for ensuring that students:
    1.   Follow safe practices and procedures.
    2.   Report all accidents, incidents to the department head.

Prudent Practices

  1. Food, drink, tobacco products and cosmetic usage are prohibited in the workshops, studios, and dark rooms.
  2.   Wear protective clothing and follow Safety Data Sheets (SDS), as appropriate.
  3.   Use non-toxic or less toxic solvents and chemicals when possible.
  4.   Eliminate toxic metals.
  5.   Use water-based instead of solvent-based materials.
    1.   Use liquid materials to replace powder.
    2.   Use wet techniques instead of dry techniques..
    3.   Apply coatings by brushing or dipping instead of spraying.
  6.   Mouth pipetting is prohibited.
  7.   Smoking shall not be permitted in any area containing flammable materials.
  8.   Solvent soaked towels, rags shall be placed in approved waste containers and disposed of on a regular basis.
  9.   Solvents shall be kept in safety containers for storage.
  10.   Label all containers clearly as to their contents and special hazards.

Special Concerns

  1. Safety Data Sheets (SDS)
    1.   Before using any chemical, read the container label and the appropriate MSDS.
    2.   An SDS will inform as to the safe handling, use and storage of the chemical.
  2.   Solvents
    1.   Most organic solvents are poisonous if swallowed or inhaled in sufficient quantities.
    2.   Solvents can also cause dermatitis and narcosis.
    3.   Use the least toxic solvent possible.
  3.   Aerosol Sprays
    1.   Fine mists produced by sprays may be a health, as well as, a flammable hazard.
    2.   Use aerosol sprays in a well-ventilated area.
    3.   Wear a dust/vapor mask to protect from health effects.
  4.   Acids/Alkalis
    1.   Acids and alkalis can be very caustic to the skin, eyes, respiratory system and gastrointestinal system.
      1.   Wear appropriate personal protective equipment as required by the SDS
  5.   Paints and Pigments
    1.   Many paints and color pigments contain hazardous compounds.
    2.   Read and follow the SDS on the use of the paint or pigment.
  6.   Photography
    1.   Many chemicals used for photographic processing can cause severe skin and/or lung problems.
      1.   Never touch chemicals or solutions with unprotected hands.
      2.   Take care not to stir up and inhale chemical dusts.
    2.   Good ventilation is essential when working with photographic chemicals.
  7.   Plastics, Acrylics, Epoxy Resins
    1.   Hazards associated with the use of plastics, acrylics, and epoxy resins come from the monomers, solvents, fillers, catalysts, and hardeners that are commonly toxic.
    2.   Some components can be flammable and/or explosive.
    3.   Some ingredients can be skin irritants, sensitizers, and/or cancer-causing agents.
  8.   Pottery and Ceramics
    1.   Pottery clay contains silicates that can be hazardous if inhaled.
      1.   Long-term inhalation can cause various respiratory diseases and/or cancer.
      2.   Read the SDS and wear appropriate PPE.
    2.   Spray glazes only in well-ventilated areas.
    3.   Ensure that all kilns are ventilated.
      1.   Toxic fumes/gases are often produced during “firing.”
    4.   Proper eye protection, i.e., infrared goggles/shields should be used to look in the kiln peephole.
  9.   Woodworking
    1.   Know proper care and use of all shop tools.
    2.   Appropriate protective gear should be worn for the job.
    3.   Absorption, inhalation, and ingestion hazards can be associated with woodworking.
  10.   Ventilation
    1.   Plan for ventilation to eliminate dusts, mists, fumes, and vapors.
      1.   Natural ventilation.
      2.   Exhaust ventilation.
  11.   Emergency Equipment
    1.   Know the location/use of:
      1.   Fire alarms.
      2.   Fire extinguishers.
      3.   Emergency eyewash/shower.
      4.   First aid kit.
  12.   Storage
    1.   Acquire and use appropriate storage cabinets and/or cans.
  13.   Chemical Waste Disposal
    1.   The Office of Environmental, Health, Safety and Hazardous Waste shall be contacted for proper disposal of chemical waste.
      1.   A Request Form for the Collection of Hazardous Waste/Materials (Section 7:Forms) must be submitted prior to collection and disposal.
  14.   Housekeeping
    1.   Cleaning up after work and keeping work areas clean of hazardous materials is essential to prevent needless exposure to chemical and/or physical hazards.
    2.   Daily housekeeping is needed to provide a safe and healthy working environment.


  1.   Frequency
    1.   Workshops, studios, and dark rooms should be inspected on a quarterly basis.
      1.   Safety of the assigned area is the responsibility of the faculty/staff utilizing that area.
      2.   The use of the Safety Inspection Checklist and Hazard Control Log (Section 7: Forms) is encouraged.
  2.   Discrepancies
    1.   Discrepancies should be reported to the department head.
    2.   The department head is responsible to keep checklists and hazard logs on file for each area.
    3.   The department head should notify Physical Plant personnel of discrepancies so that corrective action can occur as soon as possible.

Document Details

Issue Date: 03/17/04
Review Date: 11/04/2021
Revision NO: 1.0
Revision Date: 11/04/2021
Revision Note: Revise reference to Safety Data Sheets