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Woodworking Safety – The ABC’s (Always Be Careful)

- May 9, 2017 by Mike Pettit (View all posts by Mike)

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 15,500 woodworking injuries were reported in 2014. The injuries included amputations, eye injuries, and struck-by incidents.

What can you do to make sure one of your employees is not another statistic?

Provide Training To Better Familiarize The Employees With The Equipment

  • Only use woodworking machines that you have been trained to use properly and safely
  • Read the owner’s manual carefully
  • Make sure you understand instructions before attempting to use any tool or machine – ask questions if you have any doubts about doing the work safely

Create and Post Safety Procedures For All Employees

  • Always wear safety glasses or goggles, or a face shield (with safety glasses or goggles)
  • Wear hearing protection that is suitable for the level and frequency of the noise you are exposed to in the woodworking area – if you have trouble hearing someone speak from three feet away, the noise level from the machine is too high and damage to your hearing may occur
  • Use gloves to protect hands from splinters when handling wood, but do not wear them near rotating blades and other machinery parts where the gloves can catch
  • Wear protective footwear when required
  • Make sure the guard is in position, is in good working condition, and guards the machine adequately before operating any equipment or machine – check and adjust all other safety devices such as the anti-kickback device
  • Do not use pieces of wood or other objects to circumvent guards
  • Make sure the equipment is properly grounded before use
  • Check that keys and adjusting wrenches are removed from the machine before turning on the power
  • Inspect stock for nails or other materials before they are to be cut, planed, routed, or carried
  • Make sure that all machines have start and stop buttons within easy and convenient reach of an operator – the start buttons should be protected so that accidental contact will not start the machine, and a collar around the button 3 to 6 mm (1/8 to 1/4 inch) above the button is recommended
  • Make sure all cutting tools and blades are clean, sharp, and in good working order so that they will cut freely, not forced
  • Turn the power off and unplug the power cord (or lock out the power source) before inspecting, changing, cleaning, adjusting, or repairing a blade or a machine – you should also turn the power off when discussing the work
  • Use a “push stick” to push material into the cutting area – jigs are also useful in keeping hands safe during cutting procedures – always keep hands out of the line of the cutting blade
  • Clamp down and secure all work pieces when drilling or milling
  • Use good lighting so that the work piece, cutting blades, and machine controls can be seen clearly – position or shade lighting sources so they do not shine in the operator’s eyes or cause any glare and reflections
  • Make sure the floor space around the equipment is sufficient to enable you to machine the size of work piece being processed safely without bumping into other workers or equipment
  • Use extension tables or roller supports for large work pieces – supports should be placed on both sides (in-feed and out-feed)
  • Woodworking machines should be fitted with efficient and well-maintained local exhaust ventilation systems to remove sawdust or chips that are produced
  • It is best practice to suspend electric power cords above head level; or, if they cannot be suspended, placed in areas so they are not tripping hazards
  • Keep work area free of clutter, clean, well swept, and well lighted – floor areas should be level and non-slip – good housekeeping practices and workplace design will reduce the number of injuries and accidents from slips, trips, and falls

Train Employees On What To Avoid When Working With Woodworking Machines

  • Do not wear loose clothing, work gloves, neckties, rings, bracelets or other jewelry that can become entangled with moving parts
  • Avoid awkward operations and hand positions where a sudden slip could cause your hand to move into the cutting tool or blade
  • Do not remove sawdust or cuttings from the cutting head by hand while a machine is running – wait until the machine has come to a complete stop, unplug it, and use a stick or brush to remove debris
  • Do not use compressed air to remove sawdust, turnings, etc. from machines or clothing
  • Do not leave machines running unattended (unless they are designed and intended to be operated while unattended) – do not leave a machine until the power off is turned off and the machine comes to a complete stop
  • Do not try to free a stalled blade before turning the power off
  • Do not distract or startle an operator while he or she is using woodworking equipment
  • Horseplay should be prohibited – it will lead to injuries!

We all know accidents should never happen. At ICW Group, it’s our goal to ensure you’re not another statistic.

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