Art Department


Safety Guidelines: Ceramics

  1. Always wear the recommended mask (see #21 below) and turn on the ventilation system when mixing clay and glazes. Paper dust masks are inadequate to protect against silicosis.
  2. Always wear gloves when mixing glazes. Many people will develop allergies to latex gloves. Nitrile rubber is preferred.
  3. Open footwear (sandals, and so on) is inadequate to protect your feet. Wear shoes.
  4. Floors should be kept clean. Immediately clean up spilled clay, slip, water, and other materials. Do NOT sweep or vacuum the studio: hose down or damp mop. Sweeping and vacuuming will spread silica.
  5. Loose clothing and long hair, which may accidentally find its way into operating machinery, are prohibited. Tie hair back or wear a hat; wear tight-fitting clothing.
  6. Do not put your hand into operating clay mixers. Unplug the clay mixer to clean it.
  7. Keep extension cords away from water. Extension cords are for temporary use only, and in the ceramics area are required to have a built in Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI).
  8. Never turn on electrical appliances with wet hands.
  9. Areas set aside for plaster work should be cleaned thoroughly after each use. Buckets and other equipment used for this work are to be used for plaster only. Plaster and clay DO NOT MIX!
  10. Consumption of food and drink in the studio is prohibited. Eat outside.
  11. Wear long sleeves, welding goggles, and appropriate gloves when you are firing the kilns. The goggles are necessary to protect your eyes from infrared (IR) radiation.
  12. Never brush a kiln shelf with your bare hands. Jagged pieces of glaze and grog can easily tear skin.
  13. Never ignite a gas kiln without FIRST opening the door. Gas could accumulate and explode.
  14. Never completely close a kiln damper during a firing. You could extinguish the fire and cause gas to accumulate.
  15. To avoid injury to your back, use your legs to lift heavy loads such as bags of clay.
  16. Antimony, barium, cobalt, lithium, manganese, and vanadium are toxic materials. See #22, below. Use extreme caution when working with these materials. (gloves, mask [see #21 below], ventilation system). These are not food safe materials: they must NOT be used on ware that will be used for food service.
  17. Respirator-type masks are required to be worn during any type of spraying operation, and the ventilation system must be turned on.
  18. Wear gloves and safety glasses when chipping glaze off of kilns.
  19. There is an emergency phone located near the kick-wheels. All you have to do is pick it up: it is a direct connection to the University Police. Your instructor will explain emergency call procedures. See the Hazardous Materials Orientation document.
  20. There is an emergency phone and eyewash station located in the Foundry.
  21. See the UNCG Health and Safety Manual online from a campus computer at for the Respiratory Protection Program and requirements for masks.
  22. See the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) for the materials we use, online from a campus computer, at

For further reference, see: and

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