Reply by Pimzedd

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Posted on Shop teachers response to the question about missing safety features "Its too expensive"...

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606 posts in 4165 days

#1 posted 11-21-2010 12:43 AM

As a retired “shop teacher” (34 years) and Career and Technical Education (Vocational) Administrator (6 years), I’m not sure where to start. I now make presentations to school administrators and teachers on “Shop/Lab Safety”;what to teach about safety and how to teach it.

Is the problem the teacher or the school? Sounds to me like the number one problem is the teacher. He is responsible and ultimately liable for safety in his class. The school is not liable in most states; schools have sovereign immunity. However, the Superintendent and Principal do not have immunity if they are aware of of the issue.

Let’s start with the safety test. A teacher that does not require 100% correct on safety test is setting himself up to loose a lawsuit. Like Uncle Salty said, a 100% passed safety test doesn’t guarantee a student’s safety, it just provides documentation in a lawsuit that the teacher taught the student and the student knew the rules.

Next a table saw with a guard that does not operate correctly. Maintenance of the equipment is first the responsibility of the instructor. If he is not able to make the needed repairs, he must report in writing (emails are great for this as they provide a paper trail) the issue and a recommended action. If the situation puts students at risk, the saw should be removed from service. If that means using hand or power tools, so be it. Again, the teacher is liable if he takes no action.

No dado insert. Is it missing or just not visible to Newbie? Maybe it is stored away for use as needed. Mine was. If missing, is cutting a dado without an insert dangerous?

Loose fence; a loose fence could cause a kickback. Once again a maintenance issue the teacher needs to address.

Unwaxed surfaces are probably not going to cause a safety issue. However, they do indicate an lack of maintenance on the part of the teacher. My students sanded mine with WD40 at the end of the year and waxed them twice a school year.

Now on to SawStop. I purchased five last year for my school district and budgeted for five more for this year. When those are purchased, all table saws in all the shops/labs will be SawStop. How did we pay for them? Public School Districts have access to Perkins Funds (federal money). That is what my district used, no local funds needed.

How about the kickback demo. I don’t like the method. I do not think the instructor could control all the factors such as a piece of wood that might splinter apart and go in multiple directions. I used to demonstrate with a piece of Styrofoam. Got the students attention with less danger.

Now this is specifically for Newbie. I am a little concerned with your belief that you are good enough to avoid accidents ie. reaching around a bandsaw, standing on the right side. Those were all safety violations in my class and rules on my bandsaw safety test.

Your statement, ”I am “quick, unlike others who are extremely cautious”… Yea, I am quick, but thats because I know my actions” worries me. My students that had similar beliefs tended to be OVERDCONFIDENT. I had a couple of students with similar beliefs that ended up getting stitches from a Doctor. Don’t let your opinion of your teacher’s teaching methods lead you to overestimate your abilities.

What can you do? Get your parents to schedule a meeting with the Principal. Of course that includes you as well. The principal needs to know, he/she may not be aware of the issue. If that gets no action, try the Superintendent. If that does not work, contact School Board members. 1yeldud1 is giving good advice from a school board member; especially the part about the students presenting the information. One word of caution, depending on the status of the class in the school or the school district, this could backfire and result in the program being closed. It happens! Is the easy way out for a school or a district.

One final thing, don’t call OSHA, OSHA rules don’t apply to public institutions like schools. I know, I tried to file a complaint when I was a teacher.

-- Bill - Mesquite, TX --- "Everything with a power cord eventually winds up in the trash.” John Sarge , timber framer and blacksmith instructor at Tillers International school

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