Basic Rules for Shop Safety

by Pete Stanaitis

 

For the last few years now, we have been kicking off every beginner's workshop with the following discussion on shop safety. It just occurred to me that everyone who reads our newsletter should have the same opportunity. Please take the time to read this short article and commit the concepts to memory. Especially, consider bringing your own earplugs and safety glasses to any meetings where demonstrations take place.

 

  • 1. Proper clothing: Wear long, cuffless pants and boots or high shoes. Pants should overlap shoe tops to prevent sparks or hot metal from falling into shoes. Cotton denim clothing is best.

  • 2. Safety glasses or a face shield is required in the shop.

  • 3. No intoxicants.

  • 4. No horseplay.

  • 5. Always lay hot metal under the forge if it is being allowed to air cool. This reduces the chances of someone touching it.

  • 6. NEVER grab hold of metal in a shop unless you know it is cold. Metal can LOOK cold and still be at 500 degrees Fahrenheit. If there is any doubt, test the temperature by passing the back of your hand near the metal before you touch it.

  • 7. Always use tongs that fit the work. Don't hammer on work that is not tightly held.

  • 8. If you need to move through the shop with heated work, warn others of your intent by saying "Hot Metal".

  • 9. Always pick up and cool pieces of hot metal that have been cut off and fall to the floor.

  • 10. Use gloves when applying hot oil finishes. The oil usually soaks through the rag and onto the hand.

  • 11. Wear gloves when hot rasping: the rasp can grab and slip very easily causing a burn.

  • 12. Give others room to work: don't crowd around someone who is working hot metal, especially stay on the far side of the anvil from the person working. Hot metal is constantly being moved between fire, anvil, and vise so stay out of that area.

  • 13. Protect your hearing. Wear earplugs or other approved ear protection devices.

  • 14. Safety is common sense: no list of rules can cover everything and minor spark burns are a part of Blacksmith work, but paying attention to what you and others are doing will prevent most injuries.