Lab Safety

How to be Safe and Responsible in the AIAA Lab


UAS@UCLA manufactures the entire airframe by hand, using tools found in the AIAA lab. These tools, if used improperly, can lead to serious injury or even death. It is also our responsibility to keep the lab clean and fully stocked in order to complete our fabrication in time for competition. This page goes over some basic, general lab safety points and should ALWAYS be followed while using the lab. Keep in mind that this is just general lab policies- fabrication techniques differ for each material. For more information on specific materials, see the following links:

AIAA as an organization has come together and agreed on a list of policies to keep the SCC (Student Creativity Center, Boelter Hall 2730D) safe and clean. Please review the following page to see all of the policies, standards, and penalties while working in this space.

AIAA SCC Policies, Standards, & Penalties

UAS@UCLA Policies

These policies are the ones most relevant for UAS@UCLA. Some of them are the same as the AIAA policies, others are different. Read through the following policies to learn more in-depth information.

  1. Don't use the shop under the influence of drugs or alcohol- Seems pretty obvious, but just something that we need to reiterate. Just don't do it.

  2. Safety Glasses required when using any tool- Glasses are not required at all times in the lab, but do need to be worn whenever someone else is using a power tool or you are using any sort of tool. If you are about to use a tool and people in the lab do not have glasses on, kindly remind them to put them on or leave the lab while you are using the tool.

  3. Wear the proper clothing- Avoid wearing loose clothing that can get caught in the machine and tie back any loose clothes or long hair. Remove excess jewelry that can get caught in a machine. Wear closed-toed shoes at all times and long pants when using chemicals. Use ear plugs when using loud tools and face masks when necessary.

  4. Clean up your mess!- This one also seems pretty obvious, but the AIAA lab has really struggled with this in the past. Put back back all tools in the correct place when finished, use the shop vacuum to clean up sawdust, metal shavings, etc. Wipe down any surface if you were using chemicals. Properly store projects out of the way over working spaces and secure all items that could fall if disturbed (we live in California, think about earthquakes). Throw away your trash in the proper receptacle and empty the cans when they get full.

  5. Keep the aisles, exits, and access to emergency equipment clear- Don't leave things that could prevent someone from exiting the lab in an emergency or getting to the first aid kit or fire extinguisher when needed.

  6. No food or drink in the lab- The only exception to this is water sealed in a bottle (hopefully a reusable bottle, if I see any plastic bottles I will bitch at you for being wasteful). Eat before you come to the lab and if you really get hungry, move to the central SCC area or go outside.

  7. Know how to properly use the tools- Never use a tool if you have not been previously trained on its operation. If you have any questions, please talk to a returning member or one of the team leads and they can show you how to safely use the tool. Know where the shutoff switches are and how to quickly turn off the machine in case of emergency.

  8. Use the Safety Guards and keep them in place- The safety guards exist for a reason and not using them can lead to serious injury. Make sure they are adjusted before turning on the machine and they stay that way until the machine stops running. Never attempt to adjust the guard while the machines are running. True story- my friend in 9th grade didn't use the band saw blade guard properly and cut a 1/2 inch into his pointer finger.

  9. Don't leave a machine running unattended- Don't ever leave a machine while it is still running. Just shut it off! If you really can't shut it down, get someone else to watch it while you're gone.

  10. Avoid Distractions and Distracting others- Don't try to talk to someone while they are using a machine and never touch someone while they are using tools. Never wear headphones/ear buds while working in the lab. There are speakers in the lab and I love to listen to music while I work. Make sure the volume isn't too loud and if it is, kindly let the person playing music know. Don't use electronic devices while machines are running.

  11. Notify Leadership when a tool is broken- Tools wear down break with periodic use and need to be replaced. Always let leadership know when something breaks or needs replacing and don't try to hide it. Doing so could cause serious harm to someone who tries to use the tool later. Never fix a tool or replace a part unless you know what you are doing and if you do, let leadership know that you replaced the part.

  12. Dispose of Flammable Items in a fire can- Make sure that all flammable waste, including rags, empty containers, etc are placed in a flame-resistant fire can before leaving the lab.

  13. Properly dispose of materials- UAS@UCLA doesn't use too many chemicals, but in the rare case that we do make sure to follow the proper disposal procedures. NEVER dump something down the drain unless you 100% know it is okay to so.

  14. Turn off the lights and lock the doors if you are the last one to leave the lab- Our lab contains very expensive equipment- the raw cost of materials for Spinny is over $3500. Please make sure that the doors are shut and locked before leaving the lab to make sure nothing is damaged or stolen. Make sure to turn out the lights as well for Mother Earth.

Machine Operation Guides

There are a number of different tools that we use in the AIAA Lab. Please review the following links for the specific rules and safety for each machine.

Power Sander
Drill Press
Power Drill


This list covers most of the basics but is by no means 100% comprehensive. As mentioned previously, certain tools and materials have procedures and policies beyond those listed above. It is your responsiblity as a UAS@UCLA member to know how to properly use the tools required. If you don't know what to do or how to operate a machine, always reach out to leadership or a returning member. Failure to follow these policies can result in suspension or removal from the club. There also (hopefully) will be a camera set up in the lab sometime during Fall Quarter to ensure that these policies are followed and the lab stays clean and safe. If you have any questions, reach out to me (Tom) or any of the airframe directors.

Written by: T. Kantner
Last Edit: 10/15/2018 by T. Kantner