Some of you may have heard, or maybe you know nothing of it, but there was a recent (minor) accident in Restoration Hall. Don’t panic! Everyone is all good. I can say that, because it was me. I like to make the joke that I inducted myself into the wood workers guild of marred up hands. But with the accident behind me now, and healing is in progress, I have been on high alert for all thing’s safety. It’s at the forefront of my mind and I’m thinking about how best to accomplish my tasks with the utmost safety. It’s everything from hand placement when holding my chisels, how best to support the stock I’m working with to what piece of wood is safe to use with the large machinery. I recently felt the need to remind myself of all the general shop rules. I even went so far as print off a list of rules to live by when in the woodshop, so I can post it in my own locker. A good daily reminder. It includes (but not limited too):
- Always wear safety glasses, or eye protection when using any automated tool.
- Wear ear protection during any loud noises in the shop or when spending any time in the machine room.
- Gloves may be worn but never near rotating blades or while working with any other machinery with moving parts.
- Inspect your stock for nails and screws before planning, cutting, or routing.
- Ensure all blades and tool are clean, sharp, and operating smoothly.
- If there are safety guards, use them to their specifications.
- Check to make sure all screws, nuts and bolts that may have been moved during cleaning are retightened.
- Always use a push stick (with considerable material under hand) to push waste material down and through, past the blade.
- Never reach over a blade, especially when it’s been moving.
- Avoid distraction while operating machines.
- Always work against the cutter.
- Always use the safety paddles for safe and extra grip on stock.
- Check with your shop manager to ensure your piece of stock is long, wide, and thick enough to use on the machines. Each shop has different regulations!
- Always turn power switch off, unplug, and use lockout chamber before you change, repair, or replace any blade or bit on stationary machinery. Always unplug for portable machinery.
- Ensure proper ventilation in workshop or wear appropriate respiratory protection when working with chemicals or potent finishes/cleaning products.
- Ask for help or use rollers to support large stock while working with machines.
- Make sure dust collection system is working properly.
- Keep work area clean.
Now, it would be a VERY long list if I listed all the safety precautions we take on every day. We work in a high stress and potentially very dangerous environment all day, we do our absolute best to be as careful as we can. As a good friend and fellow woodworker recently said to me, we make mistakes, we learn from those mistakes, we heal, and we continue to make things with our hands. I got lucky, things could have been monumentally worse. I’m already back in action making spars at school and dreaming up new projects to give a go at. Till next time, I hope you all stay safe in your shops!