Woodworking Safety Precautions
Basic woodworking safety
Well, if you’re performing some woodworking tasks, then should know that having the appropriate safety equipment at all times is essential. From hearing protection to eye and hand protection, you are exposed to many hazards in your line of work. Some tools, such as surface planers and routers, will generate a lot of noise while you’ll need safety glasses all times to protect your eyes. For your hands, some latex gloves will do, especially when you apply to finish different pieces of wood.
Statistics on Safety Hazards and Injuries
Each year, doctors in US hospitals attend to various emergencies that result from woodworking injuries and other hazards. From students to homeowners, hobbyists, and professionals, many people get injured when performing woodwork tasks. Therefore, safety tools and equipment aim to protect you from experiencing more serious injuries while in your job.
According to the 2011’s database from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), the number of injuries varies based on the woodworking tool or equipment. This information is compiled from various health facilities in the country. It can be used as a sample of the injuries resulting from the woodwork in the entire country. But these numbers are quite low when you consider that some employees rarely visit a hospital when they get injured by a saw or any other tool. Besides, there are some “near-miss” accidents in the workshop that this information will not cover.
This study shows that the highest number of injuries in the woodworking field was from table saw with 39,750 expected annual injuries. Planers, jointers, and related machines, have an estimate of 10,930 injuries per year followed by miter saw with 6800 estimated injuries. The band saw, on the other hand, has an estimate of 3,550 injuries every year while the radial arm saw has an estimate of 350 injuries annually.
The HSE in its study mentioned the woodworking industry as one of the ventures with the highest number of accident rates in the entire manufacturing sector since its 17% higher than the average accident rate of the manufacturing industry. And the HSE adds that these accidents can be a result of contact with the wood being worked on or on the dangerous parts of the machine.
Different Types of Hazards
Some of the common hazards in the woodworking industry are:
Hygiene- When you see the normal hazards in this industry, hygiene may seem like an obvious factor. But it’s an essential component and therefore hand hygiene is a basic factor. Your hands are the most vulnerable part of your body and can quickly get into contact with harmful substances. Therefore, instruct your employees to wash their hands regularly. They should avoid gas, turpentine, thinners, or mineral spirits while washing their hands. Failure to wash their hands may lead to irritation due to the accumulation of some chemicals.
Wood Dust- Planning and sanding results in dust accumulation, and if you breathe them in, then you’ll experience lung or nasal problems. Therefore, get a local exhaust ventilation (LEV) that will help you eliminate sawdust in your business’ workspace. Removing sawdust is important, and if you have machines that generate dust, chips, slivers or shavings, then it’s now time to get equipment for collecting them. You can purchase an automatic or continuous system, then buy other safety equipment to improve its functionality.
Woodwork machines- Cleaning and maintenance of your woodwork machines is essential, and you should authorize some employees or a department to carry it out. They should ensure the machines have the required guards and tools. That way, the machines will perform more efficiently without any hindrance or potential danger to human beings.
Fire and Explosions- Wood dust particles are also a source of fire and so if you own a woodworking store, then it’s essential to clean all machines and equipment regularly. Knowing well how wood is highly flammable, proper cleaning will safeguard you from this hazard. Also, bringing in cigarettes or using burning stoves in the workplace should be strongly discouraged.
Chainsaws- Anyone using a chainsaw in a woodwork mill must have the requisite training and experience. They should also have the required eye, ear, leg, and head protection during the time they’re using the chainsaw. Also, any possible sources of tripping should be removed before the employees use the workspace.
Caution while Working at Height- There are many instances when employees have to work at height. But this height also presents new challenges in the employee safety in the workplace. For example, if an employee falls from a high height, then he can be seriously injured.
Therefore, employees should be cautious at higher heights, and each company should assess the potential risks and apply the relevant measures to protect their employees. Buy a safe ladder, such as those with multiple points of contact that prevent slipping or tripping.
Hazardous Substances- If you’re working in the woodwork industry, then you have probably come in contact with hazardous substances i.e. epoxy resins and wood preservatives. These two can cause skin irritation or even a condition called dermatitis that comes as a result of excessive irritation. Therefore, you should wear body protective equipment such as gloves when handling these substances. Asbestos is another fatal threat as it will permanently damage your lungs hence the more reason to avoid it.
Noise- Your employees’ will be subjected to high noise levels based on the available machines, and therefore, it’s vital to buy hearing protection for work use. Apply lubricants to some loud machines and get some modern tools that generate less noise.
Slips and Trips- One common thing about trips or slips is they can occur to anyone and in any place. Therefore, the best measure would be instructing the personnel to always adorn non-slip shoes when in their place of work. You should also get an employee to clean the debris or garbage and dispose of them appropriately. And if you want to avoid foot injuries, then safety boots that have steel-toe capping will be helpful.
Hand and Power Tools- It’s essential to monitor each tool before use to ensure it has no faults. You should also confirm that your employees know how to use the tools well and that they have the requisite training for handling them. Also, design a report of the safety adherence of each tool to take the right measures later.
Manual Handling- if you’ve been dealing with dense wood, then you’ll know that they’re quite tough, and it’s, therefore, essential to know of the right lifting techniques to promote the safety of your employees. The loads that weight above 40 pounds should not be handled by hand but rather machines or other equipment.
Vibrations- Vibrations are also a source of harm in the woodworking industry. Therefore, it’s essential to buy only low-vibrating machines and equipment to protect your employees from prolonged exposures. This is because they can lead to damage to your nerves, blood vessels, tendons, and muscles hence the more reason to avoid them. Keep the tools sharp also to limit vibrations. Finally, instruct the workers to maintain dryness in their workspace and bodies.
Good circulation helps combat HAVS, so encourage your employees to keep themselves and their workspaces warm and dry.
Where to Find Safety Guidance and Information
The safety information of different woodwork tools and equipment can be found at the back of each machine. But you can also find it on the official website of the tools or look for online guidance.
Safety Devices for Different Tools
It’s no secret that woodworking is a hazardous venture, but with some rules, you will keep safe and prevent potential injuries. Always adhere to the safety instructions for each tool and equipment in woodworking. Failure to do so can increase your chances of getting injured. Some of the safety devices include:
This is the most important safety equipment while working in the field. Though they are available in various types and styles, they have similar features, i.e., side screens and impact-resistant lenses, to provide maximum protection. Projects in this industry will lead to the accumulation of sawdust or chips that can enter into your eyes, causing them to itch or ache. And therefore, to protect your eyes from this sawdust, you’ll only need some safety goggles.
Safety goggles provide maximum protection to your eyes from debris or dust. Besides, they’re available in different types and styles, making it easier for you to choose your ideal type. If you are using a pair of prescription lenses, then get a matching safety google. But avoid using the normal googles instead of the safety goggles as the former is fragile hence can break easily.
When in the woodworking industry, you have to contend with loud machines and tools such as joiners, routers, and surface planers. Therefore, you should protect your ears with ear muffs or an expandable earplug. Earmuffs offer premium protection, but they can be cumbersome and quite wieldy. Hearing protection is essential, especially if you are working around noisy tools and machines.
Exposure to loud noises for an extended time may lead to the partial or total destruction of your hearing. Therefore, you should buy some reliable hair protection when in your workshop. Besides this protection equipment will help you focus on the tasks at hand and avoid any distractions in your line of duty. Finally, you’ll find them in an assortment of colors and styles that will suit your preferences.
If you regularly use a lathe, then get a face shield for additional protection from flying chips. You’ll use this shield alongside the googles and not in its place. A quality face shield is comfortable to wear, can be flipped based on your preferences, and provide maximum protection from wood chips.
When you are working in the workshop, always ensure you wear the right clothing. For that reason, avoid loose-fitting clothes and instead go for comfortable ones. An apron should be your companion while in the field as it’s designed for workspace use. Loose-fitting clothing is strongly not advised as they can get entangled in a machine hence leading to their damage or injury.
Most tools in the woodwork shop produce higher quantities of dust. Too much dust in your lungs may cause respiratory problems, and you should, therefore, get a dust mask that will keep the small particles away from your lungs.
Precautions for Different tool types
When using saws, the first safety precaution is to wear protective equipment. In this case, you’ll need a face shield, safety goggles, and a respirator to protect you from any potential hazard. The respirator, in this case, will protect you from the dust that can get into your lungs while the safety goggles protect your eyes from wood chippings. This protective equipment is essential as they protect different parts of your body from injuries. And before you start using the saw, inspect it to ensure the blade is sharp, and there are no loose nuts. Also, learn how to handle the specific saw and use the correct height.
Avoid wearing long-sleeve shirts or aprons, tie up long hair, and learn how to use the machine before using it.
Avoid standing directly behind the stock you want to shape and make any adjustment after switching the device off.
Always wear safety shoes and goggles while using the machine
When using a lathe, always adhere to the correct dressing by removing rings, watches, and rolling your shirt sleeves. Don’t forget to stop the machine before you adjust any part and wait for it to completely stop before changing the spindle speeds. Finally, wear protective equipment for your eyes at all times.
When using the router, always ensure the piece you’re working in is securely clamped to the workbench or table. Also, ensure your hands are free from any part of the router during its use. Finally, don’t forget to unplug this tool before you adjust any part.
Being in a woodwork shop is no mean task for anyone. You’ll have to grapple with heavy tools and equipment that poses a danger of serious injury or even fatality. From simple trips to deep cuts, accidents are common in the workplace, but you can avoid them. That is, if you adhere to the correct safety procedures, then you’ll keep safe while at work.