It’s the time of year when we make resolutions, so why not resolve to be safe? Your workshop has tools that are inherently dangerous and you often use them when working alone. That puts you at risk of serious injury, unless you take matters in hand and put safety first.
Accidents are usually the result of carelessness, inattention or haste. Avoiding injury has everything to do with your attitude about safety. You need to put safety ahead of everything else, including deadlines.
Focus on protecting your hands, eyes, ears, and lungs:
- Wear safety glasses or a face shield. Your eyesight is too important to take any chances. Get good, comfortable safety glasses so you will actually wear them. Put them on when you enter your shop and keep them on. A full-face shield is a good option if working with tools that can throw large things, like a lathe.
- Protect your hearing. Use ear plugs or a headset. The decibel levels in a workshop can do long-term damage. Exposure to sound can ruin your hearing and in the short-term it’s wearing – it will tire you out.
- Use push sticks. Keep your fingers away from sharp, spinning blades. If you can’t hold the work with a push-stick or feather boards you need to find another way to make the cut.
- Wear appropriate clothing. Avoid loose-fitting clothing and dangling jewelry – you wouldn’t want any of your attire entangled in a saw blade or cutting head. That could ruin your day and get blood all over the place.
- Control dust. Invest in appropriate vacuum and filter equipment and use it. Cutting wood makes dust, and it’s the really fine particles that get collected by your lungs and nasal passages. Too much exposure to wood dust can be very bad for you. It will be hard to enjoy woodworking when you are constantly coughing.
- Use sharp tools. A dull cutting tool is a dangerous tool. If it has to work harder it will be more likely to kick-back, slip or bind. Bonus: sharp tools produce cleaner cuts.
- Keep your work area clean. Organize and clean on a regular basis. You’ll find your projects go faster when your shop is shipshape.
- Disconnect the power. Always disconnect the electricity to power tools before servicing them. Don’t depend on the switch!
- Be in control. Never work with power tools when you are angry or upset. If you have an argument with a power tool you will lose every time. Never mix intoxicating substances and power tools. And beware the dangerous side-effects of chemicals like glues and solvents. They can make you loopy or worse.
All that seems obvious doesn’t’ it? And yet folks get hurt all the time. Your shop is not the place to be in a hurry or have an “it won’t happen to me” attitude.
Take matters into your own hands and reach for those safety devices every time.