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Occupational Health & Safety 'Ibles Answered

After running a short thread about NOT sanding glass without serious respiratory protection, the idea of having Occupational Health and Safety Instructables was brought up. (Thanks, psycholily!)

There are a lot of great howtos around here, and many of them touch on potentially harmful techniques. Not that this is a bad thing, and most authors will remark on safety issues, but I feel that many do not discuss how to keep safe.

If we could have a few professionals post simple ibles about how to keep safe while performing various tasks that appear regularly on the site, that would be GREAT.

Things such as:
Respiratory protection - what do you need for sanding, painting, glasswork, welding, etc.
Eye protection - wood work, soldering, welding, etc.
Physical covering - is a long-sleeved shirt and jeans sufficient? Do you need gloves?
Proper Cleanup and Disposal of various materials - what's safe, what's legal?


I doubt you will get people posting specific projects on being safe, especially regarding what is or is not legal.

  • The law varies from state-to-state, nation-to-nation, even county-to-county.
  • Giving legal advice (especially saying that a particular action is legal) leaves one open to subsequent litigation.

Plus, I genuinely do not think we need them. Safety should always be the responsibility of the person performing the action, but an expectation that all instructions has let people abdicate that responsibility.

Over-concentration on safety also breeds fear of trying new stuff.


. I don't see why someone couldn't publish some general rules without leaving themselves open to a lawsuit. Eg, when to eschew a dust filter and use a respirator. . Granted, environmental laws are highly variable, but someone should be able to come up with some sensible guidelines. . > Safety should always be the responsibility of the person performing the action . I couldn't agree with you more, but how I am to learn what is safe? Trial-and-error doesn't sound like the best option. Sure wish there was an iBle on that. ;) . > Over-concentration on safety also breeds fear of trying new stuff. . Under-concentration on safety leads to Death.

What I mean is, I doubt we'll get an all-encompassing "safety ible". General safety - wear a mask if it's dusty, don't stick your finger in the socket - should be something a Maker already knows before they're let loose alone in their shed. New dangers ("don't drop the Q37 into sawdust or it will squirt cyanide on your gerbils") they should be warned about as they arise, in the the appropriate project, since you're not going to go and look for a specific safety ible every time you use a new material or skill. On top of that, given the international nature of this site, and the incredibly wide range of skills and situations covered, any safety ible will end up with more comments than ible, and half of them will be contradicting the other half.

More specific safety, or "tool tips" I'bles:

  • How to apply potting compound when you've modded your 120V PSU
  • How to properly use a deburring tool, and avoid really nasty metal splinters
  • When is opening a window good enough, and when should you really use a filter mask, when working with solvents
  • How to handle a weapon without killing yourself or your friends (already done :-)

I think that if I'bles actually had a "Safety" category, people with knowledge in certain areas (like Nacho, or Westfw, or Skunkbait, or me) might be more encouraged to put together "recommendation" or "commentary" on specific subjects.

Searches are used to choose the projects of "burning question" contests - I wonder if we'll ever see a safety question?

I wasn't saying don't, I was saying why I didn't think safety professionals would do that, and why they wouldn't be useful in the longer term.

Have you ever searched for an ible on being safe with something?

. Make that into a link and we can call it SPAM.

COme on now. That was a valid comment... Just because the Limeys don't appreciate gun control (aiming carefully at what you want to kill), the way us enlightened ones do, doesn't mean they shouldn't be pointed in the right direction.

pointed in the right direction

That would be toward the far end of the barrel?

> Have you ever searched for an ible on being safe with something?
. No.
. And I probably never will. heehee I've been through scores (100s, if you count informal and OJT ) of hours of industrial safety training (including 4kV electrical, hi-pressure hydraulics, LPG, 40+MMBtu/hr boilers, and hazmat), and had to know a little bit about OSHA as part of my Union duties. Not that I'm an expert (by any stretch of the imagination), but, having the jobs and hobbies I've had, I wouldn't have made it to 50+ yo if I didn't have a pretty good idea of how to be safe. That doesn't mean that I'm not willing to learn more, but Ibles wouldn't be the first place I would look if I ran into an unfamiliar situation.
. Plus, unless the Mustang falls on me (it's on four jack stands, each rated for 3x the weight of the car) or I stick a screwdriver into an energized PSU, not too many things I do are very dangerous. Might burn my tongue if I get carried away with the microwave. ;)
. That's a lot more than you wanted to know or the question required, isn't it? heehee

I agree. Being in the Security business, I deal a good bit with public safety, and in my current environment, that means occupational safety. It'd be a difficult topic to deal with well (in this type of forum). You'd have people arguing about what's really safe, what current laws are, which warnings can be ignored, etc. Not to mention, a comprehensive set of warnings on any type of activity is certainly not an entertaining read. If someone could do a series of safety ibles that didn't sound like an OSHA manual, I might give it a read. But if it didn't have all the hazmat, medical, and legal info... It just wouldn't seem very authoritative.

I don't think the answer is a single safety instructable, nor is that what he was suggesting. If experts in their respective fields were to write a series of ibles about the safety practices necessary for what they do, it could save a lot of harm from being done.

when machining aluminum with carbide bladed power tools wear goggles and a face shield. I had a large jagged piece of aluminium go through the side of the goggles from a table saw and stuck like a knife in my eye. Now I wear both. I went years previous without "incident," then almost lost an eye so now I've adapted. I was very lucky as the thing was in there but missed everything vital to my vision. Someone told me that they always wear both in that situation. I did not know.

Trades knowledge can be hard learned and advice and other tricks to remedy or prevent are helpful always. I liked this.....


I think it's a great idea. Most instructables have disclaimers about safety, but as you pointed out, few go in depth on that. I'd encourage an official contest, but that would just encourage people who don't know what they're talking about to pretend that they do.