If you are an avid woodworker you no doubt have a great number of tools and equipment you use every day. While keeping that equipment well serviced is important, making sure your workshop is clean and free of dangerous debris is important to minimising hazards in your workshop. This guide should give you a couple of tips on several things you need to consider in order to minimise hazards in your workshop.

1. Check your ventilation and air ducts

Making sure your work area is properly ventilated is critically important for ensuring a safe working environment in your workshop. Not only is this to ensure that you remove potentially harmful fumes, it also ensures that dust and debris from your material is collected and extracted properly. If you do a lot of wood working, it is extremely important that you have a good dust extractor and you regularly clean the filter and empty the hopper. This can help minimise the risk of a dust explosion and prevents sawdust becoming a fire hazard.

Any workshop that has machines that create a lot of dust, sawdust or other small debris should always ensure they have a working dust extraction system installed. Opening a window just won’t cut it.


2. Always check your equipment before using it.

Naturally in order to ensure you are staying safe in your workshop, you’ll need to ensure that your equipment is properly maintained so that it runs safely. After all, a blunt and bent bench saw is no good to anyone. Before you go to use any of your equipment, it is important to inspect it first. Identifying a fault beforehand is much more preferable to a part failing when in use.


3. Have a regular maintenance program in place. If you don’t have one, get one

This point follows on from the last one. If you want to keep your tools in working order and maintain their use, having a regular maintenance program is important. All equipment wears out through use, and regularly maintaining them can help minimise any hazards from faulty tools as well as saving you money in the long run. For example, if your workshop uses sandblasting equipment, making sure all of your gear from the booth to the gloves is in good working order should be a priority.

Remember (and this is especially true with abrasive equipment) all the weathering, and wear that you do to the material you are sandblasting, happens to your equipment too. Inspecting and properly maintaining the equipment in your workshop ca go a long way to minimising any hazards your equipment offers.


4. Have a safety program in place

If you share a workshop with a number of people, it is crucial that you have a set of stringent safety measures in place that comply with New Zealand government guidelines for your type of workplace. In order to minimise any hazards for people in the workshop it is important they are made aware of your workshop rules and safety procedures are clearly shown around the workshop

If you follow these four steps, you should be well on your way to minimising a number of the major hazards in your workshop. Obviously you should tailor any safety or maintenance program you use to suit the materials and machines you use in your shop. But hopefully this guide has gone some way to helping you find the right place to start.

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