|Forum topic by MrRon||posted 06-02-2014 12:31 AM||1372 views||0 times favorited||21 replies|
06-02-2014 12:31 AM
I have noticed that the forum “Safety in the Woodworking Shop” gets very few hits compared to other forums on this Lumber Jocks site. Safety is not something we should assume we know and don’t need reminding. When there is so much concern over safety recently, I feel I need to speak up to enlighten and educate the woodworker as to safety issues. We all have our own ideas of what safety is or isn’t. I will try to address the issue of safety, as it is a very important part of woodworking. Woodworking accidents are growing in numbers due to the influx of new woodworkers and do-it-your-selfer’s. One of the most dangerous new trends is the proliferation of U-tube videos. Although there is a lot of good information available, there is unfortunately also a lot of misinformation regarding safety. Anyone watching such a video, can come away thinking it’s ok to emulate the video. Most times safety is not addressed, or even implied. Anyone following such a video and ending up on the injury list, could sue the video maker. I would think twice before posting a “how-to” video.
Tool safety is a topic I have been giving much thought to recently. I have been reading accounts of injuries that have been sustained by table saw operators. There appears to be two schools of thought. One school stresses knowing your machine and staying focused on the job at hand. The other school seems to favor safety devices that will protect the user from injury, such as “Sawstop” technology, use of riving knives, blade guards and after market devices, like feather boards, grippers and hold-down devices. Some of these devices do seem to provide a certain measure of safety, but not a guarantee. Used correctly, they can and do provide safety. I have found that safety instructions included with every power tool, if followed 100%, can reduce the chance of injury by 100%. The problem here is, especially with new tool users is to skip the warnings and cautions and get down to the “lets make sawdust”. It has been my observation that injuries caused by power tools has been by first time tool users. I don’t know how many people read the safety section in an instruction manual, but I would wager a very small percentage. I probably am guilty, but I have read safety rules at some time. Safety rules appear to be the same for any power tool, regardless of type. Some people read the safety rules and others don’t. Of those who do read them, many read, but don’t comprehend fully the consequences of making contact with a spinning saw blade. If you are a gun person, you know that a bullet can injure or kill you, but you can’t comprehend it until you are shot. Power tools, especially tools with spinning blades can inflict serious injury similar to those from a firearm.
On the question of comprehension, a child goes to school; reads his schoolbook, takes a test and fails to give the right answer. The reason why is because the child either didn’t study or did study, but failed to comprehend what was read. Adults can and do show the same behavior. Joe DIY’er comes home with his new and first table saw; is anxious to make sawdust, casually glances over the instruction manual, flips the switch and enters the unknown zone. With luck, he gets by without any problem. He may have read the safety instructions, but may not have comprehended them. This is a pretty common phenomenon. I realize in this world of high pressure, people are not able to apply 100% of their attention on the task at hand, as there are other things that require attention. Unfortunately, woodworking and working with dangerous power tools does require 100% of our attention.
We are required to take a test for a driver’s license. Some states require gun safety courses, Commercial Drivers License (CDL) applicants have to demonstrate their ability to operate their 18 wheeler. Airline pilots have to demonstrate their ability, as do ship captains. OSHA is there to protect workers in the work place, but there is no one there to protect the home diy’er from power tool dangers that I know of, but maybe there should be. I am certainly not in favor of any agency getting involved in my use of tools, but if left unaddressed, could result in federal intervention, and we don’t want to see that. I wasn’t aware, but it seems someone is keeping track of injuries caused by power tools as reported by hospital emergency rooms. I don’t recall the latest numbers, but it appears it’s getting to the point that some congressmen are starting to pay attention. While we don’t want to see restrictions placed on us, like in Europe, we must take responsibility for our own safety and work safely.
Enter Sawstop. Although many are opposed to the inventor, Steve Gann, he may be trying to close the gap left by the DIY’ers non-comprehension of safety instructions. The safety instruction are there, but if you choose to ignore them, the resulting injury is your own fault and no one else’s. Sawstop steps in and protects us from our own stupidity.