Friday, March 26, 2010

Column #9 - WoodShop Safety

Let’s shift gears a bit this week and introduce a subject that should be near and dear to all of us - Safety. Specifically- Personal Safety in the shop

Safety is one of the basic building blocks in any shop. In fact, safety is something that we all need to be aware of in every aspect of our everyday life. Without a constant mind-set of being concerned with your own safety, you might tend to drive without using your seat belt. Without this constant awareness, you might cross the street without looking both ways. Safe thinking is something that we all need to keep on our mind.

This is especially true in the woodshop. If you ask an experienced woodworker what their most prized possession is, many of them will proudly hold up a full set of 8 fingers and two thumbs. These are the woodworkers who have been safety conscious for a long time, yet many of them will also tell you stories of how they have been very fortunate in certain situations to have escaped serious injury due to their own lapse in judgment. Many of the stories one hears of “being lucky” start out with, “Well, I was in a hurry and thought I could just do this one thing quickly…and I almost didn’t get away with it. It was really stupid on my part.”
Remember, the best safety device that you have access to is your own good sense. If something you are doing creates hackles on the back of your neck, it just might be your intuition telling you to stop before you get hurt. Don’t get in a hurry. Think through your actions first and be prepared to work safely.

You should never work on, or operate, woodshop machines if you are taking medication that makes you drowsy, if you are very tired or if you are under the influence of alcohol. These substances may cause you to ignore potential safety hazards. You should always use proper safety equipment. Eye protection is first and foremost on any safety equipment list. It should comply with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z87.1 standard. Hearing protection is also important and it should comply with the ANSI S3.19 standard. Even if you install the best dust collection system that money can buy, it is always wise to use a proper dust mask. Many people use the white disposable paper masks; however, those type masks typically allow too many smaller particles to pass thru them. I recommend using a good respirator mask that has replaceable cartridges. In extreme dust environments, there are other respirators that supply fresh air to an attached hood.

Send your questions or comments to: and we’ll see what we can do to help you.
Any views or opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of this newspaper. Neither the author, nor this newspaper, accepts any liability for the content of this article, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.

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