Introduction: SAFETY FIRST: Are You Listening KIDS!

SAFETY occurs before, during and after a project. Its 24/7.

Near 80% of all accidents occur because of carelessness.

While it is easy to look for reasons, other than ourselves, as to why an accident occurs, the reality is that most accidents can be prevented if a little more time and care is taken to think through a project. Taking a few extra moments to better understand the tools being used and the focus needed, most people can avoid injuries that may sever a limb or worse.

I am sure most people are familiar with the saying "Measure twice, cut once." Well, that is one of the elements of Safety at work. Taking the time, care and patience to do something right.

Safety is something you only get one chance at doing correctly. Once safety is lost, its likely that something else will be lost along the way.

So allow me to introduce a new SAFETY saying I came up with.

"Before measuring twice, walk through trice."

Step 1: Organization Is Your Best SAFETY Friend

If your work space looks anything like this, then take the time to clean up before doing anything else.

Yeah, its a chore, but its better to know what you have and where it is. SAFETY means there is nothing obstructing the work area where space constraints with machinery and tools limit the ability to properly hold the materials or stand correctly.

A work area must be clean, clear of obstructions, and well ventilated.

Step 2: Make a List and Follow a Plan

Make a list of all the materials and tools you will need for a project. Even if you are completing the project over time, having a list of the tools involved will allow you to make sure you look them over and know they are in good working order.

Some of the key essentials are invaluable to protecting eyes, ears, and hands.

  • Goggles
  • Gloves,
  • Hearing protection
  • Tools
  • A plan (even a simple drawing helps)
  • PATD (Pay attention to Details)
  • Patience - it really is a life saving virtue

As for the plan, it can be as simple as drawing your project down on a napkin. The idea is to work through the entire project in your head to avoid any unforeseen problems. Plans rarely get executed as they are crafted, but they represent a good foundation to the project and will guide you most of the way through with edits here and there. Most important, you will have a good working knowledge of what you are about to do.

Step 3: Rehearse the Job

Completing a walk through of the project allows you to make sure all elements are coming together properly. Regardless the job or project, checking that things go together properly, that all tools are on hand and functional, and that all the pieces are laid out will make the work go smoothly and safe.

  • Use the right tools for the job
  • Know how to turn on and off equipment and machinery
  • Know where your materials are laid out
  • Make sure the work area is free of clutter
  • Know where hands, arms, feet and legs are at all times (sounds stupid until up to the point where the pain kicks in)
  • Make sure not to wear loose clothing
  • Know how materials and machinery will react (most saws like to pull or kick in a certain direction)
  • Rehearse the steps before turning on machinery
  • Have a first aid kit near by
  • When ever possible, never work alone, ask a friend to be a Safety guide

    (updated photo on 9/4 to one I took instead of using Google images)

Step 4: Pay Attention

When I entered the Army back in 1984 there was one thing drilled into all of us by our drill sergeants, PATD.

What is PATD? It stands for Pay Attention To Detail. Well, that is SAFETY. To be safe when using tools or machinery, you need to pay attention to details.

Of course, to know what those details are, you need to walk through the plan you have laid out and learn what is missing from the plan by doing a job walk before beginning.

  • Focus, focus, and focus
  • Stop all distractions
  • Use a friend or family member as a Safety guide
  • If someone walks up - STOP what you are doing
  • If something doesn't feel right - STOP what you are doing
  • If you are beginning to feel exhausted (but want to push on) - STOP what you are doing
  • Before you resume work, think about what you need to do to begin - tools bite and kick if re-started in the wrong position

(updated photo on 9/4 to one I took instead of using Google images)

Step 5: Real World Examples of SAFETY

SAFETY may sound like it only applies to using tools and machinery, and while that is most often the case, SAFETY is more a mindset about what is going on in our surroundings.

Take for example:

A small child playing near a pool, a pet wandering along a sidewalk without a leash, an elderly parent crossing the street. Your mind can fill in the blanks of all the things that could go wrong in each of these scenarios.

SAFETY is all around us.

I use to climb trees in the backyard when I was 5 years old. Once I decided to climb the tree that was but a step away from the neighbors garage. There I was, on the roof waiving at my folks - "Hey, look at me!" I was proud of my accomplishment. I was fine and came straight down at the terse instruction of my father. Both my parents had heart attacks that day (figuratively speaking) and that tree was cut down the next day. I didn't understand it...I was a safe climber, so no worries. My parents saw it differently, the potential for a serious fall, a broken neck (and that was if I was lucky).

I now have the pleasure of a 5 year old son, and believe me...SAFETY is always running through the heads of my wife and I.

Step 6: A Look at Safety on a Recent Project

This Instructable came about because I was beginning a new home improvement project. I haven't used my table compound saw in awhile and I happed to see the contest on Safety. I (like most folks) have done my fair share of acting before thinking.

So here I am working to build a very small (18') retaining wall using wood posts and planks in my front yard. The project is all about erosion control (especially since this winter is suppose to be a torrential down pour of water with El Nino). Still, wood can bind and saws can kick, and well, they wouldn't as long as I treated the materials and machinery with care and respect.

Well, things are different now that I am a father and my little monster (I of course am the BIG monster) watches and imitates everything I do. Safety these days has a totally different meaning, one that begs me to ask myself how I would react if my son was doing something that was unsafe (okay, I'd have a freaking heart attack!)

The point is, I have known too many kids growing up, young adults in college years, and still old men (such as yours truly) that still don't pay attention. Too many have gotten hurt, some (one in particular) is not able to do things anymore.

So, this was an opportunity to step forward and really give thought to, and share what I have learned about SAFETY.

Step 7: Good Maintenance MEANS Future Safety

Taking the time to properly clean up and care for the tools and machinery means that they will be in good working order when you go to use them the next time. Rusty tools and dirty equipment may seize up over time and cause future accidents.

Clean, clear and store your tools and safety gear where they will be ready to use SAFELY the next time.

Step 8: Conclusion

As I have mentioned, Safety is a mindset. One that says life and limb are more important than the tools, machinery or job.

Safety can be as simple as wearing eye and ear protection, or is can be more complex such as working in extreme environments or around hazardous materials.

It's my hope that the one takeaway everyone has from this presentation:

You and those around you cannot be replaced - so ALWAYS BE SAFE!

Safety Challenge

Runner Up in the
Safety Challenge