3 Ways to Stay Safe in Your Woodshop
Woodworking is an incredibly fulfilling craft, regardless of whether you’re doing it for an income or as a hobby. Transforming basic materials into functional, unique and decorative items takes practice, precision and patience. There is however nothing quite as satisfying as seeing the final product come together.
From power tools, hammers and circular saws to highly flammable materials, a woodshop can be a pretty hazardous place to hang around. To avoid any nasty accidents we always recommend that anyone with a woodworking setup, whether at home or on work premises, follow the below mentioned safety protocols.
Even though safety measures generally just require some common sense, it is surprising how uncommon common sense can sometimes be. By ensuring the following safety measures are in place, you’ll be able to enjoy a much safer and happier work environment.
Get Kitted Out for Safety
Wearing the right safety gear is vital when working with machinery and woodworking tools. The time it takes to put on a pair of gloves or safety goggles is trivial compared to losing a finger or impairing your vision permanently. Depending on the type of work you are doing you’ll want to consider getting hearing protection, a face shield and make sure to wear protective footwear.
It only takes a split second for a splinter to hit your eye or to step on a sharp object. For this reason, always wear your safety gear as recommended, even when just operating a machine for a few seconds.
Keep Your Work Area Hazard Free
Now that you are kitted out for safety, it is important to kit out your workspace. Electric power tools, cables and flammable materials in one small space can result in quite a catastrophe. Add clutter to the equation and you’re asking for trouble.
Leaving objects and cables lying around can be a tripping hazard. Limit yourself to one extension and always place tools back in their place when not in use. Keep work surfaces clean, uncluttered and well lit.
Whether on work surfaces or on the floor, clean spills immediately. Due to all the electrical equipment and extension cables in use, spills can lead to serious electrical accidents as well as being a slipping hazard.
The very nature of a woodshop is that it is a dusty place to work in. With solvent chemicals around as well as tiny particles and sawdust constantly in the air, on surfaces and left inside machinery, a woodshop fire can erupt and burst out of control in the blink of an eye.
Non-negotiable measures in a woodshop should include a ban on smoking, dedicated dust cleanup and spark avoidance. Since even small sparks can set off a dust explosion chain reaction, welding, soldering and torching should all take place somewhere else. In addition, motors in spray booth fans should be spark-free while any other motors should all be spark protected.
Frequent cleaning of fine dust from light fixtures, ducts and any other accumulating surfaces is essential. It is also advisable to install properly grounded outlets where needed rather than making use of extensions, which pose another common fire hazard.
Considering the high fire risk in woodshops, it is imperative that your space is adequately outfitted with a smoke alarm and heat detectors. With the simple installation of a smoke alarm, you could end up saving yourself a significant loss.
Now that you are equipped with safety gear and your workshop is safe to work in, all you need to do is handle your equipment accordingly. It goes without saying that tools and machinery should only be used in the way intended and only with the accessories and blades made specifically for that piece of equipment.
Always (without any exception) disconnect power before changing tool blades, and never use a dull or dirty blade for cutting. When it’s time to switch off the lights at the end of the day, remove all power cords from their outlets and double-check that equipment is completely disconnected from any electricity source. Come back the next day and do it all again. Keep creating, and most of all, stay safe.