Woodworking machinery causes significantly more major injuries than machinery in any other industry ... (source)
Health and safety can't be ignored in furniture production. When designers determine the form of each product's component, they specify production processes and materials. Management must then minimize the negative impacts of these technologies on workers' lungs, fingers, ears, eyes, etc., by providing adequate training, supervision and safety equipment.
Health hazards include exposure to wood dust, toxic chemicals/finishes, noise and vibration (health); unguarded machinery, non-ergonomic handling/procedures, poor waste management and fire/explosion (safety).
Table saw operations possess one of the worst safety records (see below). furniturelink lists more links to safety information (see sidebar), and the following worldwide government health and safety bodies provide invaluable information:
The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reports that over 50 per cent of UK furniture industry accidents (links to PDF ) occur in workplaces of under 25 employees, and 35 per cent of accidents involve table/circular saws. These statistics serve as a wake-up call for smaller-scale wood furniture manufacturers in Canada. furniturelink urges full compliance with the HSE guidelines for the safe use of table/circular saws (links to PDF ), which include:
Investigate the purchase of a US-manufactured SawStop tablesaw with its patented safety system that stops a spinning blade on contact with skin in less than 5 milliseconds.
Workers who breathe in wood particles generated by sanding and cutting may experience allergic respiratory symptoms, mucosal and non-allergic respiratory symptoms and cancer. Airborne dust can cause an explosion — any wood furniture manufacturing facility must install adequate dust extraction equipment and mandate cleaning procedures.
The United State's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) provides reports on controlling wood dust generated by the following machines:
Some of the noisiest working environments can be found in the woodworking industry. Workers exposed to high noise levels, even for a short time, may experience temporary hearing loss. Continued exposure can result in permanent hearing loss.
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