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Power Tool Safety


 

There are a number of things that every wood worker needs to know when they are working with power tools (to a lessor extent, hand tools). Some things are plainly obvious but others are often overlooked.

On the serious side, planning ahead may be what save your life. Some of the power tools available are very powerful and often rotate at extremely high speeds. Hard carbide has very little trouble with soft flesh. I have worked in remote areas where it was several hours to the hospital and safety was an absolute priority. Remember what might be obvious now may become very clouded when injured and you are in shock.

The top ten list below (not necessarily in order of importance) will greatly reduce the chance of injury.

  1. Read the instruction manuals that come with the power tools that you buy and learn about the tool. There is always information specific to the safe operation and other precautions associated with that particular tool. After all the manufacturer know their tools better then anyone.

  2. Wear ear, eye and if needed face protection. This is obvious, for face and eye's, remember hard steel, soft flesh. Hearing protection is often forgotten because it is such a gradual change. The simple fact is that running wood working tools for long durations without hearing protection is going to reduce your hearing.

  3. Do Not wear loose clothing or have long hair hanging free. This can result in severe injury if hair or clothing gets caught in the machine. People have been scalped from industrial machinery by not taking the right precautions.

  4. Keeping the shop neat and tidy will reduce the chance of slip and fall accidents. Lot of the time while in the shop you are focused on the task at hand and not realize where your feet are. Always sweep up saw dust or scraps or better yet install a dust collection system to collect the wood debris from the tools and dispose of it.

  5. Keep your power tools in good working order especially saw blades. The sharper a saw blade is the less effort it take the tool to perform the cut and this reduces the effort you need to use to feed the wood through the tool. If you are having to force a piece of wood through a table saw it increases the chance of you slipping and injuring yourself.

  6. Do Not work in your shop if your have been drinking or taking medication. Both can alter your perception and increase the likely hood of an injury.

  7. Prepare for the worst. Remember after you are injure is too late to be trying to think of what to do. The adrenalin will be flowing and the chance of shock is always present.

  8. Before you get injured post a plan in your shop for dealing with an emergency. It should have the numbers for an ambulance as well as a neighbor or a friend that can assist you if needed. Also, have a phone in your shop with an emergency number set to speed dial.

  9. Have a fully stocked first aid kit in your shop to deal with any emergencies and some knowledge of how to dress an injury if needed.

  10. Focus of the task. It is not a good idea to work in the shop when your mind is distracted. This can lead to inattention and accidents. It is ok to relax and unwind in the shop but not while the tools are turned on.

  11. Unplug tools when not in use or when changing attachments and servicing. It is also a good idea to lock out your power in your shop when you are not using it. This will prevent children from accidentally turning on the tools and injuring themselves.

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