In order to protect oneself and to have a long and successful career, artists and makers need to learn about and follow best safety practices. Often in the excitement of learning a process, making a creative breakthrough, or especially when tired after long hours in the studio, one may be tempted to relax or skip safe working habits. The best way to resist this urge is to make safety an integral part of your work habits and studio practice. Maintain an awareness of your surroundings. Avoid working alone and when tired. Check all tools before using.
Protect your senses and body, the senses and bodies of others, as well as the environment. The equipment used for protection is generally referred to as Personal Protective Equipment shortened as PPE. A well maintained shop or studio will post the required PPE required to enter the space if it is a hazardous environment.
Always wear eye protection when working with machines, dangerous tools, hazardous chemicals, or any process that has a chance of directing harmful material towards your face. It is important to where I protection when you are around others who are using machinery or tools as well. Often people will remember to wear eye protection when they are operating a machine but not when they are in close proximity of others engaged in potentially hazardous activities.
All eye protection is not the same. Make sure the particular eye protection you are using is appropriate for the hazards presented to you. Eye protection for hazardous chemicals is different than that for high speed projectiles. In some environments you may need more than one type of eye protection.
It is extremely important to protect your ears from loud noises. High decibel noises can cause permanent damage to your ears after even brief exposure. It is often overlooked that lower decibel noises over long periods of time can cause the same damage to your hearing. It is important to protect your ears from both brief high decibel noises and from longer exposure to low decibel sounds.
The decibel scale is logarithmic and therefore for each decibel increase in volume It is double the previous amount. So you might think that going from 12 to 20 decibels is only a few more but really it is doubling multiple times.
Fumes and particulate matter that you breathe will damage your lungs and should be avoided. The best way to protect your lungs is to work with good ventilation and avoid being in an environment with particulate matter or fumes. When that is not possible then a proper respirator for the specific environmental hazards present should be worn. It is important to read Material Safety Data Sheets for all of the materials you are using so you can select the proper respirator.
When working with machines or powered tools loose or ill fitting clothing is very dangerous since it can accidentally be caught in the machine and pull you toward a hazard. The same is true for longer hair or body accessories such as watches, rings, bracelets, lanyards, necklaces and scarfs.
Gloves are less obvious example of a clothing hazard. Gloves are a great way to protect your hands from some hazards but gloves should NEVER be worn with rotating machinery or machinery with exposed moving parts because the glove can be caught and pull your hand toward the hazard. Avoid the common mistake of wearing gloves with a sander. It is very dangerous to wear gloves with moving machinery.
When working with shop or studio equipment use common sense and wear clothing that will protect your skin from sharp surfaces, flying debris, dust, dirt, chemicals or other hazards present in the environment. The protective clothing required for different environmental and equipment hazards vary. Before beginning to work double check user manuals and safety procedures.