A set of rules for using the scene shop, prominently posted and easy to read, can help avoid misunderstandings and arguments, and ensure that everyone is using the scene shop properly and safely. This is especially important in the case of new hires, or if your organization uses a lot of volunteers who may not have worked in a scene shop before. The list can also be issued to scene shop users, and some shops even issue two copies and ask that a signed one be returned for the shop’s files.
Since the whole point of a set of rules is to get people to understand and adhere to them, the list “should” be short, clear, and easy to read. The most effective ones I’ve seen over the years have been printed on one sheet of 8 1/2 x 11 paper using a large font (14 pt or 16 pt), and the individual items have been either bullet points or very short paragraphs.
Below are some sample rules to include in your list. Rather than just copying them, however, you’ll want to see them in the perspective of your own organization and adjust as needed. I’m using the title Technical Director here, but you can certainly use a different label.
Sample Scene Shop Rules
The following rules apply any time the shop is open or in use.
No exceptions will be made for any reason.
- The shop may only be used when the Technical Director (TD), or a designated representative, is in attendance.
- Do not use any tools or equipment for which you have not been trained.
- Wear comfortable clothing but keep in mind that you may get glue or paint on it. Old clothes are best.
- Tools love to grab loose hair, jewelry, sleeves, and similar items. Tie hair back, remove jewelry, and avoid loose clothing.
- Footwear must be fully enclosed: no open-toed shoes or sandals.
- Food, drinks, or gum are not allowed. Water in a spill-proof container is OK.
- Use eye and/or hearing protection on tools that are marked as requiring them, or as directed by the TD.
- Use dust masks or respirators as required or as directed by the TD.
- Keep your work area clean. Scraps and cutoffs belong in trash or recycle containers, not on the floor. The TD will instruct you on what to keep and what to throw away.
- Never leave an unattended machine running. Turn it off.
- Do not force or attempt to fix broken or malfunctioning equipment. Report it to the TD immediately.
- Report any injuries (no matter how minor) immediately to the TD.
- Keeping the shop clean and safe is everyone’s responsibility. Put your tools and equipment away at the end of a work session or as directed by the TD. He or she will tell you when to stop working and start cleaning up.
No horseplay will be tolerated at any time.
The tone of the list can take various forms: autocratic, informational, or even humorous, or any combination of these. For instance, a YouTube video prepared by a model shop has taken their list of shop rules to new heights by presenting it in a humorous manner while at the same time using it to define the company culture to new hires. You can watch it at Ten Bullets.
To keep things simple, you may want to prepare a separate list for the paint area, noting things like washing brushes and rollers, covering paint cans, and so forth. That will also give the paint area its own identity.