I’m not one to talk about safety often because I don’t like to come across as patronising. I noticed recently though just how many cheaply made machines have become available for ‘DIY’ and I thought I’d have a moan – I will try to keep this short and sweet!
I’d seen ‘table saws’ for sale as low as £50. This is the price brand new and not on offer so you can imagine the quality of these pieces. My issue with cheap machines is that they’re flimsy and light weight and in my mind when it comes to spinning blades stability should definitely be high up on the safety check list.
Another issue I feel our safety conscious workshops can overlook is creating the right respect for the power of our machines. Everything about my Wadkin cross cut saw demands respect; it stands proud and industrial and when you put it to work it sounds like an aeroplane starting up. Now, I’m not suggesting we all need huge machines like this – not at all. But this machine puts you in the right zone for working and we do need to give all machines this same respect.
Giving a machine colourful plastic coatings and a manageable weight might make them look less imposing but it doesn’t make them free from hazard. The real danger comes when we become too reliant on a tool’s safety features for keeping us from harm. I saw a programme once which illustrated this well for me:
Amongst other things the programme covered the story from a joiner who used a hand held circular saw on his jobs. His saw had the usual retractable guard which sprung in to place as it was lifted from each cut. For speed the joiner could put his saw straight down on the floor between cuts without having to wait for it to stop spinning. He worked repetitively and this guard kept him safe up until the one time that it got stuck.
Saw went on the floor – saw kicked up off the spinning blade – blade clipped him in the bollocks.
So the moral of the story? Keep up your own guard, no matter how safe a machine might look.