5 Health and Safety Rules Every Woodworker Should Know.
For some people, woodworking is an enjoyable hobby, practised in their leisure time and with a relaxed attitude. For other people, woodworking is their profession and their career, often performed in high-stress situations and under tight deadlines. But both the amateur enthusiast as well as the working professional alike should pay attention to the following basic safety rules, otherwise, woodworking can turn into a dangerous activity in the blink of an eye.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking it will never happen to me, or I’m in a hurry, so let’s cut some corners. The tools and procedures used nowadays in woodworking are so safe, that most injuries happen as a consequence of worker’s neglect. Decide to make the following rules a habit whenever you perform your work, and you’ll significantly decrease the risk of accidents happening to you.
1. Never work without safety equipment.
You would think that’s such an essential rule that no one will ever disregard it, but you’d be surprised how often I hear fellow woodworkers saying I’ll just turn this piece real quick. And they forget to put on their safety equipment. No matter the job, big or small, quick or slow, always start any project by putting on your basic safety equipment. They are your safety glasses and hearing protection, gloves and overalls.
It also helps if your clothing attire is suited for the environment. Remove jewellery and avoid loose clothing when you’re in the workshop. The last thing you need is for a piece of clothing to get entangled in an electric saw.
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2. Never work under the influence of intoxicating substances.
I know you think it was just a glass of wine, or it’s hot and you want a beer, but you should never mix alcohol or drugs and woodworking. Unless you’re clean and sober, you have no place in the workshop, and you definitively don’t want to be operating any sort of heavy machinery unless you are in peak form. Your attention greatly diminishes even when slightly intoxicated, or when tired, and that’s when most accidents happen.
3. Always disconnect power before changing any accessory.
I know it’s time-consuming, especially when you work with a contractor table saw and you want to change the blades for a different type of cut. The temptation to do this while the machine is powered on but switched off it’s high. But the switch can malfunction or can get accidentally turned on, and then you’re in a world of problems. The safest way is to always cut complete power to the tools when you replace accessories.
It’s highly recommended to use a single extension cord so that you can turn off all power tools at once, and not get mixed up with multiple cords.
4. Only work with tools you have knowledge of and are trained to use.
Woodworking is not the time for experimenting with new tools and machines. Most of the tools involved in woodworking are extremely dangerous if you’re not properly trained on how to use them. Any type of electrical powered tools and especially electrical saws can become dangerous liabilities in the hands of an untrained worker.
Even when you buy a new tool and you think you know how it operates, read through the owner manual one more time. Models get updated all the time, and you need to make sure you know your tools inside out.
5. Keep your working area clean and organized.
Before beginning any new project, clean the floor and the working area of any clutter, wood scraps, or other remaining parts that might interfere with your work. Clean the sawdust with a brush or a vacuum cleaner. And then proceed to do a quick but thorough inspection of the workplace.
Make sure that all tools are properly grounded, the safety guards are in position and there are no visible defects on the tools or on the stock you’re planning to use. A project that starts in a clean and safe environment usually ends well.
Whether it’s a hobby or a profession for you. Woodworking is an extremely enjoyable endeavour when it’s performed in a safe and risk-free environment. If you follow the safety rules listed in this article. And make sure to abide by them regularly you’ll avoid the most common causes of accidents in the workshop.
Written by Mark Thompson. A professional woodworker with over 20 years experiences running his own shop. He is also the founder of ToolsCritic.com where he shares his expertise on woodworking and related topics.
Onyeka Emma is a QHSE Professional, a business person, and an entrepreneur. He is very passionate about health and safety, Business and Entrepreneurship.