Health Hazards in the Arts

Health hazards are inherent in some art-making processes. 

Students should be aware of the health hazards involved in the use of certain art materials and take measures to protect themselves from hazardous materials. Additional information on this subject can be found in the library and the Student Affairs Office. SFAI Area Managers will also have resources and information on health hazards in the arts.

Under SFAI’s Hazard Communications Program, Area Managers and studio coordinators and technicians maintain and update Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) for substances and materials commonly used in each department and for all substances and materials that the department provides. For all other substances and any that the student brings on campus, students must provide the area manager with an MSDS. These sheets describe the health hazards as well as recommended safety precautions for each substance. Some hazardous/toxic materials cannot be used at the 800 Chestnut Street campus, Fort Mason Campus, or the SFAI residence halls due to special ventilation and cleanup requirements. Students must consult with  Area Managers and studio coordinators or technicians prior to bringing hazardous or toxic materials on campus.

Students must follow the safety guidelines and procedures in each studio including, but not limited to, wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE); proper labeling, storage, and disposal of materials; and safe handling and use of materials. Students are responsible for purchasing their own PPE. Students who disregard safety precautions are subject to disciplinary action. If students have concerns about safety in the studio, they should speak with the faculty member teaching the class or the studio coordinator or technician in charge of that department. If necessary, students can address their concerns to SFAI’s Health and Safety Committee directly or through the student representative to that committee.  Area Managers and studio coordinators and technicians also post safety notices, precautions, and instructions for handling hazardous substances in each department. The following safety guidelines must be followed:

Sculpture Area

Power tools in the woodshop and welding shop are to be used only during the hours when the area manager, trained faculty, or trained monitor is present. The hours are posted near the tool room and the power will be turned off at other times. All persons using the area must have a safety training/orientation session and must pass the accompanying safety test. Students must also sign a release of liability form to be kept on file in the sculpture office. Students are not permitted to bring their own tools, or any other unauthorized tools, to use on campus.

Other Departments

Students must attend discipline-specific safety training and orientations prior to use of some or all of specified department’s facilities and equipment. Interdisciplinary students must be properly trained in each area in which they plan to work. See department staff for orientation training schedules or to make an appointment.

Injury and Illness Prevention Program

SFAI is committed to maintaining a safe and healthy working environment for all employees, including student employees, and has developed an Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) to prevent workplace accidents, injuries, and illnesses. The program identifies workplace hazards, safety rules, emergency response procedures, training responsibilities, and protocols for documenting safety training. A summary of the program, including a description of hazards and a list of safety rules, is available from the HR coordinator. A complete description of the program is maintained by the Facilities Office. The Vice President for Operations and Facilities has overall responsibility for implementation and maintenance of the Injury and Illness Prevention Program. The Facilities Managers have responsibility for identification of hazards and correcting or monitoring correction of identified hazards. Area Managers are responsible for maintaining a safe work environment in their departments; for training new employees, including student employees, in safe work practices; for documenting such training; and for reporting and correcting unsafe conditions in a timely manner.

All employees, including student employees, have a responsibility to:

  1. Be familiar with the hazards of their job;
  2. Perform their duties in a safe manner, exercising due caution, following safety instructions, and using safety equipment as required;
  3. Maintain a safe and healthy work environment;
  4. Report all accidents immediately to their supervisor and get prompt first aid for all injuries no matter how minor;
  5. Report all unsafe conditions without delay to their supervisor or appropriate administrator;
  6. Be familiar with emergency procedures and participate in all emergency drills and safety training; and
  7. Abide by SFAI drug and alcohol policies.