There has been a lot of talk in the media over the last couple of years regarding PPE (personal protective equipment). However, this has largely been concerned with protecting the world at large from the spread of COVID-19. Woodworkers, however, have been working with PPE suppliers for decades to ensure they are protected in the workplace.
To reinforce the importance of personal safety when working with wood, here are the four items of personal protection that every woodworker or carpenter should be wearing at all times.
Whether you opt for goggles or glasses, eye protection is a crucial part of your safety wear. Eyewear will protect you from loose debris, sharp splinters and dust. Indeed, your eyes are one of the most delicate parts of your body and should be covered at all times when doing anything from sanding to cutting. Even if a layer of fine dust gets in your eyes it can momentarily distract you and cause you to slip up. And we all know that slip-ups in the woodshop are not something to be taken lightly.
With banding machines and other woodworking tools producing high volumes of noise, it can be easy to damage your hearing when you’re subjected to that noise over the long term. Try taking regular breaks and turning machines off when not in use, of course, but also use ear defenders when using loud machinery. As a rule of thumb, hearing protection should reduce the sound reaching your ear to below 85db, which is around the point where a sound starts to become damagingly loud. Consider the positioning of all noise sources too and put enclosures around the noisier machines, where possible, to deaden the sound as much as possible.
We’ve all become used to wearing face masks almost constantly in the last two years but for woodworkers, face coverings have always been an absolute necessity. Debris and dust can make it hard to breathe and even cause damage to your throat, mouth and lungs if you are consistently inhaling them. Wearing a dust mask is the best way to protect yourself, otherwise, you leave yourself open to developing all kinds of respiratory problems later in life.
With fast-moving, powerful machines, it is vital that the clothing you wear will not get trapped or caught. Wear short sleeves where possible and avoid loose-fitting clothing or unstable shoes. Of course, being a woodworker means dressing for comfort but it’s perfectly possible to be both comfortable and safe. Remove all accessories that could catch in moving parts, keep all loose clothing tucked away (and long hair too) and don’t wear anything you’d worry about replacing! Above all else, dress for safety, not for show.