Woodworking Shop Safety Tips

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Am I safe?

Shop Safety

Shop safety begins with you. Daily practices and habits - from turning on the lights to shutting them off - will help keep the shop safe. Shop safety includes everything from the type of clothes you wear to removing trip hazards. Safety is an on going endeavor that you must always be thinking about. Take that extra minute to be sure your working safe.

   
How do I use shop safety?

A Shop Safety Check List

A good practice to get into is making to-do lists. Use a shop safety checklist to help to get in the habit of remembering to do things around the shop in an effort to keep things sanitary and safe. A step by step procedure for each activity you do could read like this:

  1. Button cuffs and tuck in shirt
  2. Put on safety glasses
  3. Watch for loose wires...etc.

   
What about breathing protection?

Personal Shop Safety: Respirators

The wearing of personal safety equipment isn't a matter of choice, but rather a matter of life or death. Wearing the correct respirator when using specific actives is a must. Not all respirators are the same and the one used for sanding may not be the right one for working with solvents. Most suppliers can provide you with a helpful chart to find the right one for you. Also, getting a good fit is just as important as using the right one. Respirators come with directions on how to get the right fit and a test. Now that you have the right respirator and it fits well be sure and change the filters and take good care of it and it will take care of you.

   
What about my ears?

Personal Safety For Your Ears

Don't over look your hearing when considering personal safety. A sweeper runs at the threshold of what we consider the danger zone for hearing damage. Saws and drills and many other pieces of equipment found in the shop well exceed this level. There are the foam ear plugs or the more sophisticated ones that are like ear muffs. Regardless of what you choose, be sure to always wear the personal protection devices to stay safe and woodwork another day.

   
What are some ways to stay safe from fire?

Shop Fire Safety

Be sure there are working fire extinguishers in the shop and the dates have been checked. Having a source of water nearby in case of a fire is also a good idea - this can be a fire extinguisher, a hose or a basin sink. If you have a furnace supplying the shop with heat, make sure the filters being used are designed for the environment and are changed regularly.

   
But I don't have time?

Keeping A Shop Safe Takes Work

Keeping a shop safe takes work, and discipline, on a daily basis. Vigilance to shop safety is the key. Here are some small, albeit important things to remember when cleaning up shop:

  1. Sweep the floor when you're done for the day
  2. Take out the trash
  3. Put away tools when finished
  4. Shut off equipment when stepping away from the machine for a minute or for good

   
What are some real ways to stay safe in the shop?

Specific Ways To Stay Safe In The Shop

Here are some basic safety tips for you to consider when using specific products in the woodworking shop:

  • If using glue or thinners, always put them in a safe place away from things that may cause them to light. This goes for rags you'd use with them also.
  • Always put the lids on paints, stains and bottles.
  • Keep your work area well ventilated with incoming fresh air.
  • If your shop is in the basement, remember there are standing pilots to consider from the hot water tank. If the fumes reach a standing pilot, it will light.

   
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Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.