Discussion of Machine Shop Safety Partition

So during Saturday’s Committee meeting, to which the minutes will posted later today, we opened discussion for our safety partition.

A couple ideas that have been thrown around in the past,
Using plywood as a backer & poles for support.
Using sheet metal with a plexiglass upper 2 ft to allow for folks to still see in but be protected from chips & debris.

Another mention was curtains, Now I did manage to find a source for NFPA approved curtains, they are actually cheaper than the previous 2 mentioned.

This is the website I ran across

Not only can we get them clear but also opaque(Blue is an option) with a clear panel.

What other ideas do you guys have? I think we should have input from those who could not make the meeting.


I think the sheet metal/plexi would probably look sharper than wood or curtains if done well, but it all depends on constraints. Are there any fire code issue we’ll need to worry about (egress paths, etc)?

And while I think it’d look sharper, if the curtains are significantly cheaper I’d just go with those.

Since I was not there, what problem is this partition supposed to solve?

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It’s meant as a safety barrier to keep the chips in Machine Shop. When the walkway behind the Bridgeports & lathes become more active, to protect those who are not wearing safety glasses who are walking by.


well, there’s your problem, right there…

Flagging myself for not being helpful to this discussion.


We might want to check on fire code implications for acrylic vs polycarbonate and the number of SF to be deployed.

I would love this for tours! I can see us politely asking tours to stay outside the shop and then we can have them watch us machine killing the two birds of:

  • We can’t machine and show them running because they aren’t wearing proper PPE
  • We can’t get anything (personal) done on tour nights because of looky-loos.

A big problem with the prior Machine Shop space is people cutting through or walking through with having the proper PPE. The goal was to restrict it so anyone entering would pass through a point that became aware they were now in a mandatory safety glasses and shoes that enclose the foot. There would signage and safety glasses kept there. It would end the “I just going through”, “I’ll be just minute” “Just need to grab a tool from the chest”.

If there is a fire code issue for egress, there could be points that allow for additional emergency exit. These would not have to be like alarmed doors - simple alarms that sound if opened.

You are right. I wish more people would take their safety seriously. I would venture to guess most don’t work in an environment were they are required.

Work wise for me, normal PPE required daily

  • Safety glasses
  • Hard hat or Bumpcap
  • Safety toe shoes
  • Cut Resistant gloves

As Needed, which is often

  • FR shirt & Pants
  • Ear Plugs
  • Arc flash gear, Recently wearing a 40 cal arc flash suit during Medium Voltage testing.
  • Occasionally Fall protection harness
  • Occasionally Safety Orange vest.

Said 40 cal suit


Yeah, we are checking into all applicable codes.

I gotta say, that’s one good thing about the curtains. They are already NFPA approved, however I don’t think they would look as great as a sheetmetal backer with a 2ft polycarb or acrylic sections.


The other curtain consideration is height. I’m concerned about impeding air flow and creating a hot pocket in the machine shop if the curtains are too high. AFAIK, there aren’t any A/C ducts in the Machine shop area. The closest HVAC unit, RTU-6, has bullhorn-like broadcast output but nothing to bring it specifically into Machine Shop.


I was going to suggest the possibility of making the bottom couple of feet of metal mesh of some sort. ( Screen wire or expanded metal.

Something to allow airflow.

We might be able to make provisions for a few box fans if we did that too. Either inflow or exhaust.

Be helpful to keep the air circulating a little in any case.


Something like these would also work well and be out of the way. Shops I’ve been in that have these have worked well. All kinds of sizes

How about rather than a static wall we place a moveable partition that wraps around 3 sides. 2 would be a likely number of the max needed and it would be much less of a ingress/egress issue.

I was thinking literal box fans myself. Maybe with a added sheet metal box to fit a thin HVAC filter for dust and such.

It was suggested that fixed posts be installed, and panels, removable for access, be attached to them.
The movable part is a problem in the space.

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Can the server racks that we’re using for machine-side tooling somehow do double duty as the support posts for partitions?

I am not sure how many of those steel posts we have available. They just need to be anchored to the floor and have some panel attachments welded to them. I nice straight line of posts along that hallway with removable plexi-glass panels would solve a lot of the problems mentioned. Start with using the posts we have and we can always purchase additional posts as we need them.

Keep two openings to the Machine Shop, one from the main aisle down by the HAAS, and the other opening by Plastics. Two openings should provide emergency exits if needed.


You know what would be really cool for the bottom of partitions:

Chain Maille

But, to make that many miles of maille would require a lot of people with pliers and jump rings a pretty long time…


seems completely sensible to make this bad boy, rather than any of these other ideas…