Safety in Creating
Almost everyone, or probably everyone, who has a shop with Handmade Artists does not fall under the US OSHA regulations. We do not have 50 or more employees, we do not make $250,000 or more from our craft/art. Be that as is may, the OSHA safety regulations are still of benefit to even us as small business sole proprietors. Safety is mandated for the larger companies, but it is still a very good idea for the small businesses.
I work in the lapidary arts, silver smithing, and associated jewelry areas. I have an exposure to injury and illness every time that I work. While cutting stones, I have a moving work surface that can throw shards and/or stones across the room at almost any time. I have had several stones break into multiple pieces while cutting and have had pieces fly. Fortunately, I use safety goggles over my prescription glasses. Several times I have had stones strike my goggles. If the safety goggles were not in place, then the stones would have struck my eyes. In addition, I wear a particulate mask over my mouth and nose to reduce my exposure to dust created. Most of the dust is handled with the flow of cooling water over the laps, but there is still a water (loaded with rock dust) spray. If inhaled, this spray could contribute to my acquiring various respiratory injuries/illnesses.
Thus with just two very inexpensive and readily available pieces of safety equipment, I have reduced my potential for injury and/or illness. I also work with fire. In the process of producing some of my jewelry pieces, I use a torch to solder/anneal/heat treat the metals. In these processes, in addition to the goggles and face mask, I sometimes also find that I need to wear heavy gloves to protect my hands from burns. Again, this is a very simple idea, and not expensive. Many other tools, such as the flexshaft, also pose threats to my health and safety.
As a final idea for this month, especially when working with chemicals/fire (soldering and then pickling), it is advisable to have a good ventilation system in place. In my case, this is an open window with a fan.
Safety is a concern for everyone in the handmade industries. Imagine trying to perform your craft/art without eyes or hands.
− John Atwell Rasmussen, PhD, AJP
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