Shed safety

The Shed - - Contents - By Ian Sharpe

The first in a se­ries on keep­ing us safe in the work­shop

Ev­ery now and again peo­ple in in­dus­try draw at­ten­tion to pho­tos they have seen pub­lished in The Shed show­ing peo­ple work­ing with in­ad­e­quate safety gear.

This is hardly sur­pris­ing, as many of the peo­ple now work­ing in their sheds prob­a­bly didn’t use much in the way of safety equip­ment through­out their ca­reers in in­dus­try.

And peo­ple work­ing alone don’t get any ar­gu­ment when they de­cide that wear­ing safety gear is some­how soft, or that safety pro­ce­dures are just boxtick­ing by man­age­ment who don’t care how it in­ter­feres with do­ing a good job, or, the best ex­cuse of all — “Be­cause I know what I’m do­ing.”

Sta­tis­tics show com­pla­cency among those with years of ex­pe­ri­ence is more danger­ous than you might sup­pose. I was re­cently work­ing at a large en­gi­neer­ing con­cern when an ex­pe­ri­enced engineer check­ing the bal­ance of a ro­tor with rows of ra­zor-sharp, spin­ning tur­bine blades ducked un­der the safety cover to lis­ten to an odd noise … His stom­ach was heav­ily lac­er­ated and he was ex­tremely lucky to sur­vive. In­ves­ti­ga­tors said that op­er­a­tors with his ex­pe­ri­ence were at sig­nif­i­cantly higher risk. There was no way an ap­pren­tice or young engineer would have taken that risk.

For some of our read­ers, their sheds

are refuges from a world of 'po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness gone mad' but you have to con­cede that safety at home is just as im­por­tant as it is in the work­place — if not more so, as you are more likely to be work­ing alone.

While we are heav­ily on the side of peo­ple do­ing what they want in their sheds, we are even more on the side of Daniel Strekier, who built the spec­tac­u­lar wooden bi­cy­cle in this is­sue. When he is work­ing out how to ac­com­plish a task, his own safety gets equal billing in the list of de­sired out­comes, as he says, “you need your fin­gers for the next job”.

So for the next few is­sues, we are go­ing to pro­file a range of safety prod­ucts and ex­plain why they are worth the in­vest­ment.

Eye pro­tec­tion

“In 2011, 10 per­cent of work­place-re­lated ACC claims were eye in­juries” — ACC

There are three main types of eye haz­ards to con­sider:

• me­chan­i­cal: dust, fly­ing par­ti­cles, sparks, metal frag­ments, blunt objects

• chem­i­cal: splashes, gases, vapours, steam

• op­ti­cal: ul­tra­vi­o­let light, in­frared light, in­tense light, glare.

While cheap plas­tic glasses are avail­able, they may scratch eas­ily or the op­tics may be poor, dis­cour­ag­ing their use. Look for com­pli­ance with Aus­tralian and New Zealand stan­dard AS/NZS1337.1 for eye and face pro­tec­tors or other prod­uct cer­ti­fi­ca­tions.

If you wear pre­scrip­tion glasses, con­sider get­ting close-fit­ting safety glasses made to your pre­scrip­tion meet­ing AS/NZS1337.6. It would be a shame if a metal shard flew into your eye un­der your nor­mal glasses. Note too that safety glasses should still be worn un­der a face shield, for the same rea­son — face shields still have big gaps around their lower edges.

Hand pro­tec­tion

Given how im­por­tant peo­ple’s hands are, it’s sur­pris­ing how many causes of hand in­jury are rou­tinely ig­nored: ap­ply­ing force in­cor­rectly, us­ing the wrong tool, re­mov­ing guards or ma­chine lock-outs, lack of per­sonal pro­tec­tion equip­ment (PPE), and lack of risk as­sess­ment.

When it comes to gloves, one type clearly does not fit all. Be pre­pared to in­vest in sev­eral types of gloves to get the right mix of qual­i­ties for the type of work and risk, the sen­si­tiv­ity or dex­ter­ity re­quired, ma­te­rial, size, fit, com­fort, and breatha­bil­ity.

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