The safety of members and visitors in personal woodworking shops and at the Woodworkers Guild of Georgia (WWG) events is of utmost importance. The potential for injury exists when using sharp hand tools, power tools, or when exposed to airborne dust, loud noises and toxic chemicals. We encourage you to keep and use personal protection equipment (PPE) in your shop or wherever you work. Your equipment should have at least the quality and characteristics of the proven items shown here in all potentially dangerous situations.
Before we talk about safety equipment below, you also need a plan if something goes wrong. Click here to see what Dr. Alan Marco recommends in case of an accident.
To encourage Guild members to stock and use safety equipment in their own shops, we worked with our local Patron sponsors to supply a simple, basic “Safety Kit” and now offer it free to every new member! Components of the kit are available at our local Patron sponsors if you need to renew an item or purchase an upgrade. If you recently joined the Guild but have not yet received your Safety Kit, please contact our Membership Director here: firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange picking up the kit at one of our monthly in-person meetings.
Following are examples of simple, basic items of personal protection equipment (PPE) that can be purchased through our local Patron sponsors, or via mail-order. We hope our concern for safety motivates you to protect your precious eyes, ears and lungs in your shop. We encourage you to start with this simple free kit and, in future, augment it with more robust or sophisticated safety equipment.
Simple, minimal eye protection: Simple spectacles or goggles – notice the shields on the sides of the lenses to prevent dust or objects from striking your face or eyes from the side.
Full-face mask for eye and face protection: If you would like more complete eye and face protection, consider a full-face style of mask. This is particularly effective for woodturners or in situations where there could be a lot of flying particle debris.
Simple, minimal hearing protection: These are made of stiff foam or a soft silicone material; they should be cleaned after each use. They may be corded or non-corded and may include a carrying case. Insert properly to get the highest possible protection; if a plug doesn’t make a good seal, it won’t protect your hearing. Soft foam fits a wider variety of ears than preformed devices; you may need a different size for each ear.
Extra hearing protection: This style is intended for use in noisy environments. They can be hot and heavy for long-term use, but are easy to use and wear, fit most people, and are easy to keep clean. They may be more difficult to get a good fit with glasses, and might interfere with other protective gear.
Disposable dust masks: This style of disposable dust mask provides simple, minimal breathing protection from particles (e.g., wood dust) over about 5 microns in size – look for the label “NIOSH N95” on the package (an efficiency rating meaning the mask blocks ~95 percent of particles 0.3 microns in size or larger).
Reusable dust masks: This style of mask typically features a light plastic or soft rubberized frame with an adjustable head strap, plus a replaceable fiber filter. This style offers simple, minimal breathing protection similar to the disposable dust masks described above.
Breathing mask with reusable filters: If you decide to graduate from simple, replaceable masks, you can move to this more sophisticated style. It may offer one or more activated-carbon air filters to protect against fine particles as well as organic gases and vapors. It may be powered/battery-driven to provide positive-pressure ventilation around the face.
First-Aid Kits: Whoops, you’ve got a boo-boo! So, what can you do about it? With luck, you already have a first-aid kit in your shop, so you have the supplies you need.
But if you don’t have a kit or if you need to upgrade your safety supplies, check out this recent review of equipment and supplies: Best First-Aid Kits in 2022
Further information on safety standards and procedures:
- Highland Woodworkign: useful MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) can be found: here
- University of Waterloo: useful SDS (Safety Data Sheets) for Solvents can be found: here
- Information about wood dust and air quality issues in wood shops can be found here: OSHA Standards for Air Quality
- Information about asbestos exposure in wood shops: https://www.asbestos.com/occupations/carpenters/
- Information on hearing protection and safe sound levels is available here: OSHA Pocket Guide to Noise Exposure
Safety Dos and Don’ts :
- Install dust collection and room air filtration to minimize airborne particles and sawdust.
- Use toxic aerosol finishes & chemicals only outdoors, or with adequate in-shop ventilation.
- Regularly maintain and adjust your tools to minimize potential problems; check for proper lubrication; check belt tightness; leave tool & blade guards in place.
- Always wear personal eye, hearing and dust protection.
- Remove watches, bracelets and rings.
- Be wary of rotating machinery – rotating bits or spindles can grab and pull you into the work:
- If your hair is long, tie it back.
- Do not wear gloves, or sleeves below the elbow, or loose-fitting clothing.
- Never use fabrics, cloths or rags near rotating tools – paper towels are safer.
- Never hold work in your bare hands when drilling – secure all work with clamps or vises.
- Never remove sharp chips, cuttings or debris from machines with your fingers – use a brush, rake or vacuum. Debris can be sharp and can easily cut or pull your fingers into rotating work.
- Unplug machines before changing tools or blades or when setting up work – another person may walk into your shop and switch on the power.
- Don’t leave unattended machines switched on.
- Never leave chuck keys in the chuck of any machine.
We highly value your membership in the Woodworkers Guild of Georgia and want to foster safe practices among our members. On request, our Membership Director can provide members with a very basic safety equipment package. Our Patron Sponsors offer a wide variety of safety equipment similar to examples shown on this page.