Scene Shop handbook & safety guidelines

UWL Theatre Program Named Best in Wisconsin!

Click the link above to read about OnStage Blog choosing UWL as
one of the best theatre programs in the United States.  The listing of
all 50 programs can be found here.

Ticketing Information for the 2021-2022 Season

The Department of Theatre Arts will not be offering season ticket packages this year out of caution of the university having to shut down due to COVID-19.  Due to a technical issue with our new online ticketing system (AudienceView), patrons will not be able to purchase tickets online for Severe Clear or Love/Sick.  Tickets may be purchase via the phone (608-785-6696) or in person (Center for the Arts Box Office) beginning the Monday prior to opening night for each production.

Welcome to the Scene Shop

The Toland Theatre scene shop is run by Department of Theatre Arts, at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse. The labor (you) is provided by a mix of students fulfilling requirements for course study in the Theater department and student employees of University Productions. We usually provide support for four productions a year, generally for the Theater Department.

During your time in the shop we hope to introduce you to the tools, procedures and techniques used in scenic construction. Our shop is set up very closely to that of a basic repertory theater which you may encounter in the world outside academia. Therefore your experience will be very similar to being employed in a regional shop and should be of some educational value to you as a student of the theater arts.

In this reading you will find some of the important safety guidelines to be followed that help ensure a continued safe working environment for all.  Theater work, by nature, is physical, and the use of power equipment is more dangerous than general classroom work. However, if you use common sense and follow these safety procedures, working in the shop and on stage will be fun and safe for you and your classmates/fellow workers.

Please feel free to ask questions at any time. We are here to teach you as well as support UW La Crosse productions.  Again, welcome. We hope you enjoy your experience in the shop.

Safety Policies:

Enforcement/Disciplinary Statement:  Violations of policies contained in this document shall be subject to review by the Scene Shop Supervisor and Faculty Technical Director for disciplinary actions. 

Minor violations will be subject to the following disciplinary actions:

First offense:               Verbal Warning
Second offense:          Written Warning
Third offense:              1-Day Suspension
Fourth offense:            Dismissal

Major violations such as reporting to work under the influence of alcohol may result in immediate termination, disciplinary action will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

OSHA 1910.132(a)-General Requirements

“Protective equipment, including personal protective equipment for eyes, face, head and extremities, protective clothing, respiratory devices and protective shields and barriers, shall be provided, used and maintained in a sanitary and reliable condition wherever it is necessary by reason of hazards of processes or environmental, chemical hazards, radiological hazards, or mechanical irritants encountered in a manner capable of causing injury or impairment in the function of any part of the body through absorption, inhalation or physical contact.”

Eye Protection:  Safety glasses meeting ANSI standard Z87.1-2003 shall be worn at all times by all persons, employee, students, or guests when work is being performed in the Scene Shop.  Willful violation of this policy shall be cause for dismissal for employees; students will receive a letter grade of “F”.

Hearing Protection:  Hearing protection is provided and employees/students are encouraged to wear whenever required or desired.  Hearing protection shall be strongly encouraged when using a router, cutting or grinding steel, or using the Radial Arm Saw.  Hearing protection is recommended when using all electric power tools.

Respiratory Protection:  Respirators are permitted only through arrangement with the Faculty Technical Director.  Respirator fit-testing and training are required prior to use of a respirator.  Disposable respirators and nuisance dust masks are available; students and employees shall be trained in their proper use.

Hand Protection:  Latex, Neoprene and Nitrile gloves are provided for use with paints and other chemicals.  Leather gloves are provided to prevent abrasions when handling materials and scenery.  Refer to SDS sheets in shop office or on-line for specific instructions when handling chemicals.

Face Protection:  Full Face Shields are provided and may be worn anytime.  Face Shields shall be worn when cutting or grinding steel.

Foot Protection:  No open toed shoes allowed.  Preferred footwear is steel-toed hard soled boots or shoes.

Welding Protection:  Welding helmet, gloves and protective jacket shall be worn when welding.  Safety glasses shall be worn under the welding helmet.

Clothing policy:  Students and employees must dress appropriately for the work being performed.  Suggested dress includes short sleeve t-shirt or button down shirt, sweat shirt for cooler days, long pants (preferably natural fiber), and appropriate shoes as designated in the Foot Protection policy.

Lock out/Tag out:  Any tool or machine that is in need of repair/maintenance shall be taken out of service and have a tag placed on it stating the type of repair/maintenance needed.  Always make sure power supply is turned off before servicing equipment.  Out-of-weight Line-Sets shall be securely tied off with a tag noting who to contact before attempting to move.

Sharps Disposal Policy:  Sharp objects such as utility knife blades and glass shall be disposed of in containers marked “Sharps Disposal.”

Walking and Working Surfaces:  All places of employment, passageways, storerooms, and service rooms shall be kept clean and orderly and in a sanitary condition.

General Housekeeping Policy:  The Scene Shop shall be maintained in a neat and organized manner.  Shop floor and working surfaces are to be swept and cleared of debris, tools and materials put away, work arranged in an orderly fashion, and trash receptacles are to be emptied on a daily basis. 

Substance Abuse Policy:  The Theater Department will not tolerate substance abuse or use that imperils the health and well being of its employees or students, or threatens its service to the university.  Furthermore, employees have a right to work in an environment free of substance abuse and with persons free from the effects of drug or alcohol abuse.  It shall therefore be the policy of the UWL Scene Shop to maintain a workforce free of substance abuse.  Reporting to work or performing work while impaired by or under the influence of controlled substances or alcohol is prohibited.  The unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensing, possession or use of a controlled substance is prohibited in the workplace, or while the employee is at work.

Injury Reporting and Record Keeping Policies:  All injuries incurred by students or employees shall be reported to the Scene Shop Supervisor, who shall complete an Incident Report Form to be submitted to the university.

Training Policy:  All Scene Shop employees and students shall receive training as determined by the Faculty Technical Director prior to operating any equipment associated with UWL Theater.  Training sessions for employee and students shall take place during the first 2 weeks of every semester and are mandatory before beginning work.  A training record shall be kept and maintained by the Faculty Technical Director and Scene Shop Supervisor.  Employees and students shall be retrained when 1) changes in the workplace render previous training obsolete; 2) changes in the types of hazards render previous training obsolete or 3) there are observed inadequacies in an employee’s knowledge or behavior.

General Safety Practices

  • Report all accidents, injuries, or unsafe working conditions to your supervisor.
  • Never engage in stunts, horseplay, pranks, or scuffling.
  • Never operate a piece of equipment unless you are familiar with it and are authorized to do so.
  • Never obstruct or restrict access to emergency exits, evacuation routes, exit signs, fire hoses, fire extinguishers, sprinkler heads, sprinkler valve controls, fire curtain, and fire control annunciation panels.
  • Never alter or defeat a smoke or heat detector, or other fire protection device.
  • Fire doors must not be propped open.
  • Never get on or off moving equipment. This includes the orchestra lift.
  • Never use makeshift ladders such as boxes or chairs.
  • Never toss or throw tools or materials to another worker.
  • Do not defeat the grounding circuit of electrical equipment.
  • Do not repair electrical equipment or wiring unless you are qualified to do so.
  • Objects with sharp edges such as mat knife blades and broken glass should not be discarded loose in wastebaskets.
  • Do not use toxic or flammable materials without proper supervision and training.
  • Shop and all ancillary spaces must be kept in a neat and workmanlike manner.
  • Never store materials above the height of fire suppression system.
  • Keep floor clear of loose objects and free of water, paint, and oil.
  • When a worker is welding, do not look at the arc.
  • Never point a pneumatic tool or any other power tool at anyone.
  • The use, sale, possession, or being under the influence of drugs or alcohol during working hours can result in immediate dismissal.
  • Always check to ensure you will not spray sparks, sawdust, or paint on other employees/students, tools, or on scenery.

Clothing and PPE

  • Always wear clothing suitable for the work being done.
  • Always wear appropriate PPE.
  • Never use respirator with out prior training and certification.
  • Do not wear dangling jewelry.
  • Long hair must be tied back out of the way.


  • All containers must be clearly labeled with the identity of the contents and appropriate hazard warnings.
  • Copies of Safety Data Sheets for all materials, chemical or otherwise, in a work area shall be readily accessible to all employees and students

Lifting and lowering

  • Use proper procedures when lifting or lowering heavy objects. Get a good footing, bend at the knees, keep back straight, and lift with your legs.
  • Get help to lift or carry anything that you cannot move safely by yourself.

Tools and Machines

  • Do not use tools with cracks, broken or loose handles.
  • Disconnect power before changing accessories, adjusting, or performing maintenance.
  • Do not perform any maintenance on a machine or tool without proper training and supervision.
  • All protective guards shall be in place when machine or tool is operated.
  • Never leave a machine running unattended.

Fire Prevention

  • Keep combustible materials such as paper, fabric, and solvents away from heat or spark producing objects such as welders, heaters, radiators, lights and motors.
  • Do not allow hot metal from welding or soldering to contact combustible materials.
  • Always have a fire extinguisher nearby when welding.
  • Do not store reserve stocks of oxygen next to reserve stocks of combustible gases.
  • Gas cylinders must be stored secure to a wall or cage to prevent them from falling.
  • Report to supervisor any fire extinguisher that requires recharging.

UWL Police and Emergency Services

  • For immediate threat to life, call 911 from your cell or any other phone. The University Police will be notified right away if appropriate.
  • For all other emergency situations, call 608.785.9999
  • Non-emergency situations, call 608.785.9000 (Request for Assistance or Dispatch)

Medical Emergency Procedures

  1. Call 911 if injury is potentially life threatening.
    • Following are some examples of symptoms of life threatening injuries:
      1. Chest pain
      2. Difficulty breathing
      3. Severe bleeding
      4. Severe pain
  2. Students requiring minor medical treatment should be treated at the Student Health Center, located at 13th and Badger in the Health Science Center. Hours are as follows (except when closed for University Holidays):
              Appointment Hours
             Mon, Wed, Fri: 8:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
             Tues: 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
             Thurs: 8:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m. (appts. only from 4:00-7:00 p.m.)
              Urgent Care
            Mon, Wed, Thurs, Fri: 8:00-11:30 a.m. 
            Tues: 9:00-11:30 a.m. 
    Mon-Fri: 1:00-3:30 p.m.
  3. Students and employees requiring non-life-threatening emergency medical treatment should be taken to the Emergency room at either Mayo Clinic or Gundersen by an employee such as the Faculty Technical Director, Scene Shop Supervisor, or a Shop Staff employee.
  4. If injury is result of chemical contact, locate appropriate SDS and make available to medical personnel.
  5. All injuries requiring medical attention must be reported as soon as possible to the Scene Shop Supervisor so that an Incident Report Form may be completed and submitted to the University.
  6. All injuries requiring first aid treatment must be reported to the Shop Supervisor.

 First Aid Procedures

  1. First Aid box shall be kept unlocked whenever the shop is in use.
  2. Never attempt to administer First Aid without proper training.
  3. Currently enrolled students requiring non-emergency medical treatment should be taken to Student Health Center.
  4. Employees are covered by Worker’s Compensation Insurance.
  5. Students are covered by _____ - finding out.
  6. Employees/Students shall immediately report all injuries to the Scene Shop Supervisor or appropriate supervisor.
  7. All injuries requiring medical treatment must be reported as soon as possible to the Departmental Office.
  8. Consult SDS for proper treatment of injuries and ailments.

Personnel Lift

  1. All Faculty, Staff, and Students shall be trained before using this lift.
  2. Outriggers must be installed; Green lights must be on for lift to operate.
  3. E-stop is on base unit and in bucket.
  4. Bubble level on base unit to ensure base is level.
  5. Unit will not work without electricity.
  6. Unit may be lowered without electricity by using red lever on base unit.
  7. Do not
    1. Carry loose tools or hardware.
    2. Roll lift when outriggers not in place.
    3. Roll lift when someone is in the bucket and lift is extended.
    4. Stand on rails in bucket.
    5. Defeat any safety devices.
    6. Leave tools/hardware in bucket.
    7. Get paint overspray on lift.

Orchestra Pit Lift

  1. Do not get on/off lift while moving.
  2. Safety Line must be extended across proscenium and in front of HL and HR backstage doors and on cross over between audience and stage before moving
  3. Must announce “lift moving” in a loud clear voice prior to moving lift
  4. Always inspect perimeter to make sure all scenery, equipment and personnel are clear.
  5. Ensure all safeties and interlocks are functioning.

Line Set System

  1. Announce in a clear, loud voice “Line Set # (appropriate line set) Moving” in a clear, loud voice. Wait for acknowledgement for all others working on stage.
  2. Do not unlock rope lock without securing purchase line by hand or other means.
  3. Do not leave line set unattended when rope lock is not engaged.
  4. Do not alter any hardware or connections on line set without permission from Faculty Technical Director.
  5. Do not overload line sets beyond arbor capacity without permission from the Faculty Technical Director.
  6. Clearly label (Tag) and tie off (Lock-out) any line set that is out of balance. Tag shall clearly state “Danger: Line set out of balance” and have YOUR NAME on the tag.
  7. Never remove Tag or tie off from a line set without consulting the persons whose name is on the tag.
  8. Report all safety concerns to the Scene Shop Supervisor or Faculty Technical Director immediately. Lock off and Tag any line set for which you have safety concerns.
  9. Do not add stops to t-bar track without permission from the Faculty Technical Director.
  10. Do not add extensions to the end of battens without permission from the Faculty Technical Director.
  11. Remove all spike marks at strike.

HAZCOM Policies

  1. Employees/students shall have access to all Safety Data Sheets.
  2. SDS shall be available on-line through departmental computers
  3. Employee/students shall be trained in how to read and utilize SDS.
  4. Employee/students shall be trained on all Scene Shop and Theater hazards.
  5. Employee/students shall be trained in proper selection and use of PPE.
  6. Safety and Health information shall be posted in the Scene Shop.
  7. Safety and Health Information and records shall be updated on a semi-annual basis.
  8. Safety and Health policies and programs shall be reviewed on an annual basis.
  9. All containers shall be labeled with Product Name and applicable warnings.
  10. Disciplinary Actions:
    1st/2nd offense  Verbal Warning
    2nd offense       Written Warning
    3rd offense       1 day suspension without pay
    4th offense       Termination or a letter grade of “F”

 Safety Data Sheets (SDS)

  1. Every material in the Scene Shop must have an SDS available on-line
  2. SDS shall be consulted for proper handling and PPE requirements of materials found in the Scene Shop.
  3. Employee/students working in the Scene Shop shall be trained to read and utilize SDS.
  4. No product shall be used until an SDS is on file and has been read and approved by the Faculty Technical Director.
  5. Failure to follow SDS policies is a serious offense and disciplinary actions will be taken.

Materials Labeling

  1. All containers shall be labeled clearly with the Product Name and Warnings.  Also include production where appropriate.
  2. Old or inaccurate labels shall be removed from containers.
  3. Labels are not required if product will be used in its entirety during the working period.  If material is to be stored overnight or longer container shall be labeled.
  4. Manufacturer labels shall not be covered with paint, tape or other media; labels must be able to be read.

Personal Protective Equipment Regulations and Training


  1. All Scene Shop Employees, Lab and other students shall comply with Personal Protective Equipment regulations
  2. All Theater Faculty and Staff should comply with Personal Protective Equipment regulations
  3. All Visitors shall comply with Personal Protective Equipment regulations.
  4. PPE shall be provided for all employees, students and faculty working in the Scene Shop.
  5. All employees and students shall be trained in the inspection, proper use and storage of PPE.
  6. All PPE shall be inspected by user before each use.  Damaged or defective equipment must be marked and removed from service.
  7. Employee/students shall consult SDS for proper PPE before using new materials.
  8. Employee/student owned PPE must be inspected and approved for service by the Faculty Technical Director before use in the scene shop.
  9. Failure to follow PPE regulations and is a serious offence and may result in termination for employees and failure in class for Lab and Drama Participation students.

Head Hazards

  1. No head hazards requiring PPE have been identified in the Scene Shop.
  2. Head hazards are present during all Strikes.

Hand Hazards

  1. Employee/students shall know how to identify, don and doff appropriate nitrile, neoprene, latex, general purpose leather, and welding gloves. 
  2. Employee/students shall know where and how the above gloves are properly stored.
  3. Employee/students shall know which type of glove to wear for each task (consult SDS or ask Supervisor)

Eye, Face and Ear Hazards

  1. Employee/student shall know how to don and doff safety glasses, safety goggles, face shields, flash goggles and welding helmets as necessary.
  2. Employee/student shall know how to don and doff ear muffs and disposable ear plugs.
  3. Employee/student shall know how the above PPE are properly stored.
  4. Employee/student owned eye protection must meet and display “ANSI Z-87.1-2003” or better to be permitted for use in the Scene Shop.
  5. Safety glasses shall be worn at all times when employee/students are in the scene shop regardless of activities they are participating in.  Safety Glasses shall be worn under face shields and welding helmets.

Foot Hazards

  1. Employee/students shall wear closed toed shoes at all times.  Flip-flops, sandals and thin-soled shoes are not allowed.
  2. Preferred shoes meet ANSI Z-41 standards that include hard soled steel-toed boots or shoes.

Alumni/Student Spotlight

Calahan Skogman Headshot

Calahan Skogman

Theatre Performance, Class of 2016
Matthias, Shadow and Bone (Netflix)




"Among the many seasons in my journey as an actor, my time spent with UWL Theatre was not only the most special, but the most important. The program offered me incredible opportunities and instilled in me a profound belief in myself as a young artist. It was there that I was fostered by my first theatrical family, and I am forever grateful."