For most woodworkers, the home workshop is a peaceful refuge, where craft gives shape to creative ideas. It is also the place where accidents may occur,owing to the very nature of the activity. But the likelihood of mishap can be reduced by a few simple precautions.First, an informed woodworker is a safe woodworker. Read the owner’s manuals supplied with all your tools. Before starting a job, make sure you know how to use the safety accessories that are designed to protect you from injury while working with a tool.
Most accidents are the result of carelessness or inattention-failure to use a safety guard when cutting a board on a table saw, face jointing stock with bare hands (rather than with a push block),or using a router without safety goggles. Refer to the safety tips on manuals for ways of avoiding some of the more common accidents in the shop.
Although the big stationary machines receive most of the attention from safety-conscious woodworkers, there are other potential sources of danger that, though less apparent, cannot be ignored. Many finishing products, particularly those containing solvents, can be toxic, although their effects may only become apparent after years of prolonged exposure. Certain species of wood can cause allergic or toxic reactions in some people. Safety goggles, rubber gloves, and a rubber apron are good standard attire for any finishing job, especially if you are spraying a finish or mixing and applying caustic chemicals.
Fire is another shop hazard. Smoke detectors are an invaluable defence, providing valuable time for you to control the blaze. Keep a fire extinguisher rated ABC in your shop and know how to use it. One of the leading causes of fire is improper wiring. Whether you are building a shop from scratch or revamping an existing space, electrical safety should be a priority.
No shop should be without the personal safety gear illustrated. You can easily make some safety devices, such as push sticks, push blocls, and featherboards.But do not become complacent about the security they will provide. All the safety equipment in the world cannot make a shop accident-free. Safety is foremost a matter of attitude-a confidence in using the machines combined with a healthy respect for the power these tools wield.
Even with the best efforts at prevention, accidents still occur. Bits may break, boards split, shavings fly and all too often find a victim. Being prepared and taking prompt action can help minimize further damage. Take a first-aid course, keep a well-stocked first-aid kit on hand in the shop and be ready to administer medical aid when necessary.
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This author writes about Woodworking Plans and Ideas.