Beginners Guide to Woodworking Safety Rules

When working with wood and in a workshop environment, many hazards can present themselves and can be overcome with a little forethought to the design of the workshop and to the safe usage of tools. We all want to get busy in the workshop, though the loss of fingers isn’t the way forward, and certainly a mark that will remind you of the importance of safety in an environment that holds such potentially dangerous tools.

The Air We Breathe 

One of the largest problems in a workshop area is dust. Breathed into the lungs, the dust can cause damage to health, and these days there are many options for dealing with the dust element of workshop use. Smaller electric hand tools usually have extractor bags, although the efficiency of these is questionable and better alternatives are available, such as the Festool portable dust extraction system which allows you to link up your electrical tools to a vacuum system to eliminate dust from the air to a more efficient level. Larger more industrial workshops can be fitted up with extractor machines with a system of ductwork to collect dust.

Safe Use Of Tools 

Many machines within a workshop environment come with guards to protect users from rotating blades etc., and these should always be used. They are there for a reason, and irresponsible use of machinery can cut off fingers, especially with spindle moulders. Use guides to keep wood in place and prevent kick-back from machines as well as this really can keep you safe from harm. Always feed smaller stock pieces of wood through machines by using a prod stick rather than your fingers.

Use tools only for the purpose they were designed.

Electric Cables 

Electrical cables can be a hazard, and planning your workshop to minimize the risk of trailing cables is essential. If sockets can be built into the floor for floor standing machines, this helps greatly and eliminates risks involved with tripping over wiring.

Switch Off Workshop Power 

This doesn’t apply to all workshops, although switching off the power to a workshop when not in use and where children are part of the household is essential to safety and can make that workshop a safer place all round. Switching off the supply upon finishing work in the workshop will eliminate the risk of small hands deciding that they want to try out dad’s tools.

Switching off machinery for cleaning and maintenance eliminates risk and means that all parts of the machines can be accessed safely.

Work Practices 

While some people handle raw wood with gloves, gloves can actually be a danger in a work shop in that you lose the feel for the wood that you are using and wood can slip dangerously from your hands. However, goggles where appropriate are an essential since these will stop damage to eyes from flying sawdust and material. Although having an extractor will help eliminate sawdust in the atmosphere, often when working with wood, you will have air borne debris that can endanger the eyes.

Sounds can harm your hearing and if working with machinery that is particularly noisy, do protect your ears with suitable ear protectors in the form of specially designed ear muffs called ear defenders.

If ever working with woods that give a fine dust, and finding yourself with little or no extraction of dust, do wear disposable masks. These are lightweight and cheap and could save your lungs.

Clothing, Jewelry And Hair

When working in a workshop environment, be safe with the clothing that you wear. Loose clothing can get caught in machinery, and rings that are loose can present a hazard. Keep hair neatly tied back.

Chemicals And Toxic Products 

Do keep these in a cool place under lock and key.

Keeping your workshop neat and tidy, and adhering to safety rules can make the world of difference, and can enhance the workshop experience. Safety from the very beginning of using a workshop will ensure that safe practices become habit forming, and some habits really are worth having, especially ones that may save your life or help the woodworker keep their hearing, sight, and more especially a full hand of fingers!