Woodworking is enjoyable and inspiring, but you need to ensure it is also safe. Follow these woodwork health and safety guidelines to keep your workshop and everyone in it as safe as possible.
1. Keep clean and tidy
You should always take a good look at your work space before every project. The space, including the floor, should be clean and clear of obstacles to reduce the likelihood of slips or trips, which are a common form of injury. Clean up spillages, organise cables and ensure floor coverings are fit for purpose. Vacuum up dust and never clean machinery with an airline duster.
2. Stay focused
Becoming distracted is a real hazard when using woodworking machinery. Getting distracted can happen easily, but working with machinery and tools requires the utmost attention at all times.
3. Protective measures
Hazards should be controlled at the source, like using suitable extraction to minimise the risk of airborne particles causing illness. But the next step should be Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as the second line of defence against hazards. Impact protective glasses, steel-capped boots, hearing protection and other PPE relevant to woodworking are important precautions that should not be ignored.
You should always consider what you are wearing in the workshop. Loose-fitting clothes like hoodies and drawstrings are more likely to get caught in machinery, so they are best avoided. Jewellery is also a bad idea, and keep long hair tied back.
5. Changing accessories
You must always unplug machines before you start fiddling with attachments to ensure there is no chance of them powering up and causing injury. No matter how much of a hurry you are in, this is a golden rule.
6. Sharper is safer
Well-sharpened blades and cutting tools will cut more smoothly and reduce the chances of a tool catching, which can result in kickback.
7. Use the machine’s safety features
A machine’s guard should be fit for purpose. Push sticks are a good way of keeping fingers away from fast spinning objects. You should always keep your hand a minimum of one handspan away from powered cutting blades.
8. Look out for metal
Before you cut, route or plane, you should inspect the wood you are working with. If there are any small metal objects like nails or staples, they could wreak havoc with your machinery.
If you are new to any woodworking machines, you should have one-to-one supervision from someone more experienced to help build your practical knowledge. It might also be worth taking a course on woodworking health and safety to equip yourself with the most comprehensive knowledge about being safe in the workshop.