Health and Safety in the Workshop

When it comes to woodworking, taking responsibility for your own health and safety is absolutely paramount.

Surrounded by power tools capable of inflicting serious injury, it’s essential that you have a solid overview of how to work without endangering yourself.

Ideally, your workshop should be in a location apart from the rest of your house. Shut the door and you can minimize outside interference while also being able to leave any work in progress when necessary.

Your workshop should be warm and very well lit. It also needs decent ventilation.

Windows and a transparent roof should give you plenty of natural light. If you cannot open the windows, you should invest in a ventilator and a dust collector.

Naked flames are obviously to be avoided where possible. Make sure you have a fire extinguisher on hand.

A basic first aid kit is essential. The last thing you need is to go running off to hunt down medical supplies if you hurt yourself in any way.

Thoughtfully planning out your workshop and then keeping it spick and span will boost efficiency while at the same time lessening any chance of a mishap.

Some Simple Tips To Keep Your Workshop Safe

A great number of elements of workshop safety are common sense.

Bear these pointers in mind for a safer environment when you are woodworking.

  • Proper safety equipment is crucial. Safety glasses are a must at all times. Some noisier power tools might call for ear defenders. A pair of latex gloves comes in handy when applying finishes. A dust mask can work well but is not substitute for a dust collector
  • Loose clothing is a no-no. This can easily get tangled up in your machinery with disastrous results. Wearing clothing that will offer at least some protection against flying wood chips is a smart move
  • Do not wear dangling jewelry when you are woodworking
  • Fit power sockets up above the work surfaces. Position them close to your power tools so instead of long, trailing wires on the floor you can keep short flexes on top
  • Many workshops have concrete floors. Think about adding some vinyl sheeting to add some warmth. Rubber mats and slatted boards also work well
  • Make sure the workshop is clean and free of as much clutter as possible. Trip hazards need to be dealt with to minimize the chance of anything going amiss
  • Store all toxic materials like thinners and lacquers in small quantities. Make sure that adhesives are kept away from direct heat
  • Keep all your nails, screws and pins in small separate containers. These must be kept dry. Clear labeling and methodical arrangement will help you work more efficiently
  • Return all tools to their rightful place once you’ve finished using them
  • Make certain that all saws and chisels are sheathed
  • Stash your manufactured boards upright on their edges. Lodge them up against a dry wall securely using a wooden batten fixed to the workshop floor
  • Overhead fluorescent lights are a great method of getting shadowless illumination. For more concentrated light, try an angled spotlight
  • If you cover your tools or keep them in cupboards and drawers, they will not only be out of harm’s way but also nicely protected from dust and rust. Try popping in some silica gel to further discourage rust
  • If you have multiple sawing trestles, stack them one on top of the other. This will maximize space while ensuring you don’t stumble over them and cause an accident
  • Stay sober when you are woodworking. This may sound obvious but all too many people are tempted to crack open a sly beer while they beaver away. Evidently, this is likely to decrease your overall awareness and increase the likelihood of an accident
  • When you are changing the blades on your power tools, always disconnect the appliance completely. Simply switching it off is not enough. Any malfunction with the switch and you’ll wish you took an extra 5 seconds to pull the plug from the wall
  • Stick to a single extension cord. While it might seem inconvenient to keep unplugging it when you want to switch tools, this simple hack will keep you fully focused on the importance of unplugging your equipment for any blade or bit changes
  • Some tips might seem like no-brainers but these are often the things people too easily forget… Checking your wood for nails, screws or any other metal is something you must always remember. Inspecting the stock before you start cutting can be carried out by eye or with a metal detector. Metal against your blade is highly likely to cause kickback so the importance of this step cannot be overstated
  • Distractions lead to mistakes and mistakes can result in severe injuries when you are surrounded by power tools. If you are called or distracted n any way, always finish your cut rather than suddenly breaking off
  • If you are using a miter saw or a table saw, always keep your hands well clear of the blade when you are removing off-cuts or general waste. Use some scrap wood or a push stick instead
  • Always use sharp blades. A dull cutting tool is potentially dangerous
  • Let the tool stop when you have finished up. Even once the power has been cut, the spinning blade is still capable of wreaking havoc
  • Never rush and never force it. Working slowly will not only stave off the chance of an accident but will give you superior results into the bargain. If you run into any resistance when cutting, forcing the workpiece is liable to end up with it kicking back. Take your time. Work with care and precision

Wrap-Up

We hope you have found some useful tips in this look at health and safety in the workshop.

Woodworking is a remarkably relaxing pastime but don’t let your guard down and forget about the safety element.

Bear the above advice in mind and you should avoid any nasty accidents as you practice your craft.

Happy woodworking!

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