Friday, November 14, 2008

Shop Safety II

In my last post I talked about removing safety hazards from under foot. Today I'd like to address two other elements of shop safety: Light and sound.

Adequate lighting is critical to doing good work under any circumstances. Many shops, especially smaller ones have a tendency to skimp on lighting. They'll wire up a couple of banks of florescent tubes and call it fine and dandy. Nope.

Anything (and I mean anything) that leads to unnecessary fatigue is a safety hazard and eyestrain is a major culprit. Always make sure that your work area is well lit and have extra lighting such as adjustable drawing table lights or high intensity reading lamps available. Those extra photons can save you from nasty cuts or (even worse) turning out inferior work. Examine your work area and eliminate the shadows as much as possible.

Now that we've saved our eyesight lets protect our ears. Power tools are, for the most part, loud; especially when they are actively engaged. A good table saw has a nice hum to it until it starts ripping an oak plank and then the decibels climb. If you're working in a small shop, that noise is bouncing off the walls with increased intensity and is mounting a major assault on your ears...the ears you rely on to hear your baby laugh, your spouse whisper sweet nothings, or that evil thing that is sneaking up on you.

I keep ear plugs in my pocket at all times. Before I plug in any tool, I plug my ears. Hearing damage is cumulative. It adds up. Ripping one sheet of plywood without adequate hearing protection will not cause you to go deaf. You will just be one more sheet of plywood deafer. Every time you fire up a power tool or subject your ears to any other type of loud noise you are decreasing your ability to hear and hastening the day when someone you love says: "MAYBE YOU SHOULD THINK ABOUT GETTING A HEARING AID."

Hearing aids are expensive. Ear plugs are cheap. Think about it.

I'll get back to the subject of safety in future posts. That's all for now.

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