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How to Be Safe in a Home Workshop 2021

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Workshops are great for completing DIY projects and storing your tools, but they also can be dangerous if you aren't careful. Since there isn't anyone else supervising your home workshop, it's extremely important to pay attention to your safety. Put on clothes and proper safety equipment to protect yourself from any accidents that may occur. Make sure the tools you use don't have any damage and only use them for their intended purposes. Finally, keep your workshop organized and clean so it's a safe place to work. As long as you stay cautious while working in your shop, you can complete any project safely!

Steps

Method 1 of 3:Using Proper Clothing and Equipment

1Avoid wearing loose-fitting clothes or large jewelry. Clothes that have long, flowing fabric or loose sleeves can easily get caught in tools and hurt you. Opt for clothes that fit tightly and don't get in the way of your hands. If you normally wear hanging jewelry, such as bracelets or necklaces, take them off before you start and set them away from your work surface.Trustworthy SourceUS Occupational Safety and Health AdministrationU.S. government agency responsible for setting and enforcing workplace safety standardsGo to source

If you're working with metal or flames, wear clothing made from natural fibers since they're less likely to get damaged or melt.

2Wear safety glasses whenever you're working in your shop. Many tools create dust or throw pieces of material that can damage your eyes. Look for safety glasses that completely cover your eyes and wear them whenever you're working in your shop. Keep the glasses in a safe area where they won't get scratched or damaged when you aren't using them.

If you're working on small pieces of material or you can't see very well, look for safety glasses that have LED lights on the sides.

If you're welding or working with metal, opt for a full face shield since it will protect you better.

3Wear earplugs or earmuffs when working with loud power tools. Power tools get loud and can damage your hearing after long periods of time. If you're using in-ear plugs, roll them in your fingers before pushing them in your ears. Allow the earplugs to expand completely in your ear before starting your tools. If you want an over-ear option, look for shop earmuffs that block out noise instead.

Get earplugs that have a lanyard or string holding them together so you can hang them around your neck when you aren't using them.

Cup your hands over your ears after putting in earplugs and listen for a change in volume levels. If nothing changes, then you put the earplugs in properly. If you notice a difference, take the earplugs out and try readjusting them again.

4Put on a dust mask or respirator to protect your lungs. If you're working with wood or metal, wear a dust mask that covers your mouth and nose when using your tools. The mask will keep any sawdust or debris out of your lungs so you don't damage them. If you're working with chemicals that create fumes, opt for a respirator that has chemical filters so the harmful gases can't pass through them.

You can buy dust masks or respirators from your local hardware store.

Always read the labels for any chemicals you use to find out if you need a respirator for them.

5Put on closed-toe shoes to protect your feet from falling items. Never wear open-toed shoes since something could fall and cause an injury. Change into tennis shoes or boots whenever you go into your workshop so it won't hurt or cause as much damage if you drop something. Make sure the shoes or boots have good traction since workshop floors can get slippery when there's sawdust on them.

Steel-toed or reinforced boots offer the most protection, but are not required for working in your shop.

6Use gloves when you're working with chemicals or grinding metal. Try to find gloves that fit your hands tightly so they don't hang loose when you wear them. If you're only working with chemicals, use disposable gloves and turn them inside out when you throw them away to avoid skin contact. If you're working with metal or welding, opt for thicker leather gloves so metal scraps are less likely to tear through them.

Warning: Don't wear gloves while working with most power tools since they could get caught and snagged, which may lead to severe injuries.

7Store a fire extinguisher in an accessible area. Look for a 10 lb (4.5 kg) fire extinguisher that's labeled “A” or “C,” which means it works for wood or electrical fires. Put the fire extinguisher somewhere where you can easily reach it in case of an emergency. If there is a fire, stand at least 6 feet (1.8 m) away from the flame and aim the hose at the source. Pull out the safety pin and pull the trigger to spray the extinguisher.

If you need to use the fire extinguisher, make sure you replace it or have it refilled as soon as possible.

Always leave the area and call your local fire department if you aren't able to control the flames. Develop a fire plan for your home so people you live with know how to get out and where to meet outside.

Avoid smoking in your workshop since you could ignite sawdust, fumes, or chemicals on accident.

8Leave a first aid kit in your workshop in case there's an accident. Accidents are bound to happen in your workshop from time to time. Make sure your first aid kit has bandages, disinfectant, and gauze so you can take care of any minor injuries on your own. Keep the first aid kit in an area where you can easily access it whenever you need it.

If you have a serious injury that you can't manage on your own, call emergency services immediately and let them know of your condition.

9Keep an emergency eyewash kit in case chemicals splash. Eyewash kits use sterile water to rinse out any chemicals that may have gotten in your eyes. Look for portable eyewash bottles at your local hardware store, and place them in your workshop near your main work area. If you ever splash chemicals in your eye, open the bottle of eyewash and hold it directly against your open eye. Squeeze the bottle to clean out the chemicals as quickly as possible.

Avoid using tap water to rinse chemicals out of your eyes since they could cause damage to your vision.

Method 2 of 3:Staying Safe with Tools

1Read a power tool's instruction manual before using it for the first time. If you've never used a power tool before, take time to carefully read through the manual so you know how to properly use it. Pay attention to what materials you can use it for, how to turn it on, and any warnings or restrictions listed. Store the manuals in a safe place in your workshop so you can reference it later if you need to.

Never use a tool if you're not sure how to work it since you'll be more likely to injure yourself.

Only use power tools for their intended purposes, or else they may break and cause injuries.

2Inspect your tools for damage before you use them. Check the tools to see if they have any chips, cracks, or bends that could affect their integrity. If you're inspecting a saw or knife, make sure it has a sharp blade, or else it will require more force to work and could cause it to break. If the tool doesn't have any damage, then it's safe to use.Trustworthy SourceUS Occupational Safety and Health AdministrationU.S. government agency responsible for setting and enforcing workplace safety standardsGo to source

If you aren't sure if a tool is safe, avoid using it to prevent getting hurt.

3Plug power tools into a grounded outlet to avoid getting shocked. Only use outlets that have the proper power supply required for the tool so they work the most effectively. Make sure you use an outlet or extension cord that has a grounding port, or else you could risk the tool shorting out. Be careful not to plug too many tools into the same outlet or circuit since you could cause it to overload.

Never remove the grounding prong from a power tool since you could increase your risk of an electrical fire or electrocution.

4Secure the material you're working on with a clamp or vise. Set any piece you're working on to a sturdy work surface so it doesn't move or shift around. Open the jaws of a clamp or vise and secure them around the material. Tighten the clamp or vise as far as possible to ensure it holds the material securely.Trustworthy SourceUS Occupational Safety and Health AdministrationU.S. government agency responsible for setting and enforcing workplace safety standardsGo to source

You can buy clamps and vises from your local hardware store.

If you're working with a large piece, you may need to clamp it in multiple places if it still shifts around.

5Use the guards or guides on the tool to prevent injuries. Many cutting tools, such as circular and table saws, have plastic guards around the blades to reduce the risk of injury. Leave the guard in place and keep your hands away from the blade so you're less likely to cut yourself. Keep the material you're working on pressed against any guide rails on the tool so it's less likely to move or jolt around while working on it.

If you're cutting a small piece of material, use a wooden pusher rod, which allows you to guide the material through the saw without putting your fingers near the blade.

Warning: Don't use power tools or work in your shop if you feel tired or exhausted since it can make you more prone to accidents.

6Unplug and store tools whenever you aren't using them. Whenever you finish using your tools, turn them off and unplug them from power as soon as possible. Carry the tool by the handle with the blade or point facing down and keep it in a safe place. Make sure the tool doesn't fall or get damaged wherever you store it, or else it won't be safe to use next time.

Keep tools high off the ground if you children so they aren't able to reach or use them.

Disconnect power from your tools if you need to change a blade or make adjustments.

Method 3 of 3:Organizing Your Workshop

1Keep your workshop well lit so you can see what you're doing. Don't work in areas that you can't see clearly since you could put yourself at a higher risk for injury. Place your main work surface or tool bench underneath bright light bulbs to help you see better. If you aren't able to move your work surface, get lamps that clamp to the tabletop and point them in the direction you're working.

Fluorescent or LED bulbs work best for workshops since they're bright and energy-efficient.

2Clean your workspace to avoid clutter and distraction. Whenever you're finished using a tool or completing a project, take time to clear off the work surface and put the items away. Wipe the surface with a cleaning wipe or a shop cloth to remove any dust or chemicals. If there's sawdust or debris on the floor, make sure to sweep it up so you don't slip and fall. Don't start on the next steps of your project until you've cleaned up everything you used.

Look for pegboard or toolbox organizers at your local hardware store so your tools are easy to find later on.

3Tape extension cords to the floor to prevent trip hazards. If you don't have outlets right next to your work surface, get a grounded extension cord that's long enough to go from the nearest outlet to where you plan on using your power tools. Lay the cord flat on the floor so it doesn't have any tangles or snags, and plug it into your wall outlet. Place duct tape over the entire length of the cord that crosses through areas with foot traffic so your foot doesn't get caught.

Look for solid extension cord covers that you feed the cable through at hardware stores if you don't want to put tape on your floor.

Warning: Don't plug multiple extension cords into one another since they could short and create sparks.

4Store chemicals in cabinets or shelves away from your tools. Inspect the chemicals you have in your workshop and make note of any safety or storage information on the label. Put anything that's labeled “toxic” inside of a cabinet raised off the ground so children can't access them. Make sure the lids or caps are tightly secured so fumes don't build up inside of your workshop. If the chemicals say that they're flammable or combustible, keep them away from power tools on a metal shelf so they're less likely to ignite.

Avoid using chemicals that have bleach or hydrofluoric acid since they can be toxic and interact with other chemical fumes.

Don't keep chemicals next to power tools, open flames, or heaters since this can cause them to combust.

5Ventilate your workshop to prevent buildup of harmful fumes. If you already have a central air system in your home, keep the vents open so fumes can filter out and fresh air comes into the room. If you have a window or exterior door in your workshop, open it while you're working so fumes from tools and chemicals can escape. Put a box fan or a filtered air cleaner so it blows out of your workshop and absorbs the chemicals to keep the area safe.

If you start feeling dizzy, light-headed, or sick while working, leave your shop immediately.

6Keep the door locked or closed while working so others don't come in. Don't let people who don't know how to use your tools into your workshop since they're more likely to get injured. Always leave the main door closed and lock it if possible so no one comes in and surprises you when you're working on a project. When you leave your workshop, keep the door locked so children or inexperienced people don't go inside and get hurt.

Make sure someone knows you're in the workshop in case there's an emergency.