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.
“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.
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.