Be careful not to do something permanently stupid because you are temporarily angry, stressed, scared, tired or hungry.

Karen Salmansohn

 

Yes another boring page on safety, but hopefully you don’t stop reading, below are some stories of my own near misses and hopefully it’ll stop someone having to learn the hard way like I have.

I will say I have been very lucky over time not to have endured a prolonged or chronic injury. Even if you read no further always consider what could go wrong and the best way to mitigate the injury to yourself or others if something did go wrong, always think before you act and use your common sense. Remember old Murphy is already working against us and even doing everything right you can still pickup a nasty injury.

Anger

I consider anger to be one of the most hazardous things when working on a project as it usually causes you to lose good judgment. It will happen at some point you’ll be halfway through a project and something will go wrong or wont turn out right. If you feel that anger overwhelming you just stop whatever your doing and go and do something else. Getting angry and trying to complete a project can often times result in a messed up project or even worse an injury requiring a hospital or doctors visit at least.

The worst near miss I’ve had under this category was the day I was trying to un-jam a disc from a dvd burner and it was PMO no end. I could find no logical reason why the drive tray wouldn’t open, in my frustration I popped the front plastic bezel off of the drive so I could see the mechanism. No real harm yet, but because I wasn’t thinking clearly I applied power to the drive, naturally the disc and laser fired up. Let me tell you having a blast of laser light reflect out of a DVD-burner down the edge of a dvd disc and into your eye’s is no fun. As far as I or the doctor can tell I walked away with no permanent eye injury. This is more pure luck than anything as a Class 3b laser is more than capable of blinding you in less than a blink of an eye.

I could have avoided the whole situation if I hadn’t have continued to work while angry and I’d been wearing the correct safety gear.

Eyes

If you do nothing else when working on something always protect your eyes. Just for a moment stop what your doing and go to a room in your house you know really well. Now shut your eyes and try to get around that room, now imagine the impact that would have on the rest of you life. Never put your eye sight at risk it’s one of the few area’s were modern medicine really can’t help you much if you do damage them.

My worst near miss actually match’s to the anger story above. The 2nd narrowest miss was when I had some toxic chemicals spray into my face while at work fortunately the glasses and protective gear took the brunt. The accident was a 1/10000 but it happened. Additionally I’ve had numerous near misses were splinters of wood, hot metal shavings and bits of stuff have bounced of the safety glasses or goggles, I’ve been wearing while working on something, anyone of those incidences could have caused an eye injury.

Your eyesight is not worth the cost saving of $5-$10 pair of safety glasses or worse not getting them from the cupboard and putting them on if you do own them. Make it a habit or a rule and then stick to it, you might look silly while wearing them but you’ll feel even more stupid when your laying in an emergency room trying to explain to the doctor/nurse what happened.

Lungs

You only get one set of these, and again modern medicine is not real good at this stage at fixing up any injuries with your lungs. The unfortunate thing about many lung injuries is that often we don’t even know we’ve damaged them until years later.

Worst near miss; I had, had the wall material in my house tested for asbestos fibers but I failed to have the actual plaster/mud that was used for patching tested. I then proceeded to sand some of the old plaster. I was wearing a plain dust mask but thats about as effective as a screen door on a submarine against asbestos fibers. I didn’t relies that they put asbestos fibers in old plaster/mud but they have done. Once I was informed it could have, I had an agonizing 3 day wait for test results (not to mention house cleanup…). Fortunately they were negative for fibers but it could have easily gone the other way.

Unfortunately with your lungs they are finding out that more and more materials can cause damage to your lungs. So what was once considered safe or of very low risk now can suddenly be found to be very dangerous later on. I no longer use anything less than P2 disposable masks when working around any dust (wood or otherwise). My lungs are more valuable to me than a $7 P2 dust mask. So protect your lungs and they will look after you long into the future.

Ears

Industrial deafness is no fun, and your basic power woodworking tools are more than capable over time of damaging your hearing. This is another one of those things you don’t notice as your doing it but overtime the damage builds up until one day every thing’s muffled or your suffering from chronic tinnitus.

I have no sort of near miss on this as it is a cumulative build up of damage, but I do know I’ve suffered some mild damage over the years as I do have very mild tinnitus. I have no idea if the tinnitus is louder or worse than other people my age (33), but it’s there and I’m stuck with it. I’ve been fairly careful over the years to normally always wear ear protection when exposed to loud noises so I’d hate to think what my hearing would be like if I hadn’t been as careful as I have been.

A fair chunk of my care with this issue is latent due to using guns as a kid and we always had to wear ear protection before firing them. To give you some idea a good pair of ear muffs costs about $50-$60 and will last a life time. One pair of hearing aids can set you back in the realm of $3000-$4000. I know what I’d rather buy.

General Safety

This is all those other times you should take care, were you may not kill or horribly disable yourself merely loose a finger/hand or end up with a nasty scar. Trust me scars are not cool. My hands are covered in minor scars and marks (yes no hand modeling for me). I’ve needed stitches from band saws, almost took my own thumb of with a drop saw luckily as I cut slow I felt it coming down and ended up with a mere nick. I’ve got a fairly nasty large burn scar from cooking, numerous minor cut marks from craft knifes and scalpels.

I think you get the picture, in most of the above cases I wasn’t being overly careless or thoughtless if I had have been the accidents could have been much worse. Below is a list of things I try to do when doing projects:

  1. Take your time – never rush a cut or hurry, your thumb can be removed by a power tool before you even know it’s happened.
  2. Always maintain your tools and check them prior to starting them up, you never know whats been caught around the blade, or been chewing on the cable.
  3. Keep the blades sharp (power tools and knives), blunt blades catch more and require you to use more pressure to achieve the same cut.
  4. Never reach across , through or over a spinning blade.
  5. Wear the right clothes, no dangly bits to get caught.
  6. Wear any other protective gear you feel you need steel cap boots, leather gloves or specialist gear-welders mask etc.
  7. Never remove safety gaurds/features from tools, there their for a reason.
  8. Follow the safety precautions on the can/tool/object, if your still not comfortable learn about it find out about it’s risks, take a course etc.
  9. Never work with power tools when your fatigued, tired or sick.
  10. Keep your work area clean and tidy, kitchen, desk, shed or something else keep it clean.
  11. Try not to work alone, if you do get into trouble it’s helpful if someones around to help you out.
  12. Have a well stocked first aid kit avaliable so that if you do have an accident you can apply a bandage or bandaid without bleeding all over the house.

Use the above as starting point but I’d recommend reading around about safety more before you plunge into your next project. The odds are stacked against us project doer’s and if you don’t take care you can end up in very nasty situation. A few links on safety:
Eye Safety
Lung Safety
Ear Safety
Power Tools
Craft Knife
First Aid Kit

Don’t let safety concerns stop you from doing project just be aware of them and mitigate the risk as best you can.

Okay I have to put this in

Advice and information contained in this online site is presented for general educational purposes and to increase overall safety awareness. It is not intended to be legal, medical or other expert advice or services, and should not be used in place of consultation with appropriate professionals. The information provided is intended to be accurate and helpful, but it should not be considered exhaustive.

I the author specifically disclaim all responsibility for any liability, loss, injury or risk which is incurred as a direct or indirect result of the use of any of the material or services on this site.

2 Responses to “Safety”


  1. 1 Reivaj September 2, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    Thanks Sirrob for your advise and for the time you take to write this


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