Whether you’re cleaning up your long-neglected workbench or putting in a private workspace, safety needs to be a key concern. However, there are so many things that could go wrong that we may find ourselves paralyzed trying to decide what should be one. Here are three workshop safety hazards you need to keep an eye on and tips on how to mitigate these risks without spending a fortune.
Injuries Caused by the Equipment
One of the most common workshop hazards is a lack of guards and screens around equipment. Misused or damaged guards that don’t offer protection but give the impression that they do are also a big problem. Review your suite of tools, and research what safety equipment you need to keep them safe.
Make certain the equipment has appropriate guards and screens. If it is lacking, get it. For example, install a drill press guard instead of assuming safety glasses are good enough. Have a good funnel instead of assuming safety gloves are enough to protect you from chemical spills. Automatic shutoff switches are ideal while getting in the habit of turning everything off when you turn away is a good habit that improves safety. If you remove a screen or guard to perform maintenance on the tool, always put it back.
Not Prepared to Handle Emergencies
Many minor accidents are made worse by the inability to mitigate the damage as soon as it happens. You need at least one fire extinguisher that is plainly visible and immediately accessible. Whether you put it in its own holder or store it on the corner of the workbench, it should be several feet above the ground.
Buy a first aid kit and put it where you can’t miss it when you suffer an injury. If you can, have an eyewash station near the first aid kit. This is critical if you’re often working with chemicals, shavings, and sparks.
Clutter Contributing to the Chaos
Cluttered workstations raise the risk that a spark lands on something and starts a fire or an unexpected item is thrown in your face. The solution is clearing out the clutter. Get rid of chemicals in unmarked containers since someone could get hurt mixing substances that generate toxic gas on contact. Every other chemical container needs to be clearly labeled with the contents and any warning messages.
Don’t leave old blades and broken tools on the work surface. Get in the habit of disposing of them safely when you’re done working for the day. When you can’t remove a trip hazard like trailing wires and cables, find ways to minimize risks. Instead, consider rearranging the area so that the equipment is closer to the power outlet. Warning signs are inferior to something that eliminates the risk.
You can’t afford to take shortcuts when it comes to your safety. While there are many hazards in the average workshop, we’ve outlined the worst hazards and how to mitigate them.