Operator (and bystander) injuries? List the ways....

Discussion in 'Woodturning Health & Safety' started by Jamie Straw, Jul 15, 2017.

  1. Jamie Straw

    Jamie Straw

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    Hi, again. Seeking info from those of you who've dealt with dozens and dozens of turners over the years and have a feel for the various dangerous mistakes people make, everyone from beginners to intermediate or even advanced turners. I'm helping write standards for an open-shop situation -- what people need to know to be safe. If they haven't taken a class from us, they will be expected to demonstrate their knowledge and ability, within 3 or 4 "tiers" of turning they might want to do on their own with our lathes. Can we build a list of "How people hurt themselves"?
     
  2. Mark Lindquist

    Mark Lindquist

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    One of the most serious mistakes turners can make is standing in the path of the wood being turned at startup. I published a technique to avoid startup problems in 1986 in my book Sculpting Wood. The problem is that when a piece is put on the lathe without first checking the running speed, because of oversight, interuption, carelessness, etc., the piece can quickly come up to speed. If that speed is eccessive for the piece being turned, it can cause an explosive breaking apart, often resulting in injury to the turner standing in the path.
    My solution to the problem was to employ a mandatory protocol of always standing off to the side, out of the range of the path of a potentially flying object. Additionally, the protocol included a "snap-start" for larger pieces. Since lathes are so powerful, they can bring a large piece immediately up to speed. "Snapping" the switch quickly on and off, affords an opportunity to assess starting speed always.
    Today, many lathes have soft--start options, where controllers gradually bring the turning up to speed. It is still a good practice to always be a "step to the left" when starting up a piece.
    Many lathe accidents can be avoided by implementing this simple protocol.
    Mark
     
  3. Mike Johnson

    Mike Johnson

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    Knowledge and Experience would cover a large percentage involving various aspects of "turning".
    A large number of accidents occur from lack of knowledge and experience on the following items.
    Wood Types
    Lathe Chuck Mounting
    Lathe Billet Mounting Methods
    Lathe Billet Material Failures
    Lathe Machine Operating
    Lathe Accessory Use
    Lathe Tool Technique
    Operator Positioning
    Personal Protective Equipment Use
    .
    .
    Every new machine takes time to learn how to use them properly, a complete novice walking into
    a wood working shop is an accident waiting to happen. Basic hand tools and power tools can easily
    cause injury to a novice. The larger powered wood working equipment usually increases the extent
    of injury made possible by the relentless energy provided by these motor driven machines. Not sure
    how you can instill a life time of shop experience and knowledge into a novice in any length of time.
    There are some people that can learn quickly and understand the danger in working around this type of equipment, and then you have other people that do not have the focus, common sense, dexterity, or aptitude
    to be in a wood working shop. Those individuals lacking shop skill sets usually end up losing digits, eye sight, and hearing from not following safety procedures. You might want to put together a few YouTube videos showing common accidents incurred by these individuals in a wood working shop. Most novices have no
    knowledge or experience, so they also have no respect for the dangers involved with the tools they are working with. Most industrial companies require weekly safety training and equipment training for new operators of equipment and tools. OSHA requires yearly training and reviews of these topics and anyone
    working in a shop environment should follow the same practice to avoid liability.
     
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  4. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    Classes should stress the safety aspects of each operation or tool as it is introduced.
    Usually proper use is safe use.

    I have 2 basic rules:
    everyone wears a face shield and power saws are not operated by students.
    In youth classes face shields are down when any lathe is turned on.

    In over 200 classes i taught or assisted I have seen two injuries requiring emergency room visits.
    1. a student lacerated their hand removing a nub from a bowl with a chisel the said " I did exactly what you told us not to do."
    2. An internationally known turner I was assisting hurt his hand when it was pulled into the grinder.
    Two things contributed. The gouge had a too steep bevel making it low on the wheel and the woulverine arm was not locked tight enough and it's movement let the wheel pull the tool down over the front of the wheel.

    A friend suffered a sever hand injury while teaching. The classroom was equipped with reeves drive lathes. Class was on NE bowls. Student who just finished a bowl was told to start another blank.
    The lathe was still on high speed. The unbalance bowl blank flew off the lathe upward in a high ceiling warehouse type building. Hit my friend on the hand breaking some bones and permanently damaging some tendons. ( I teach the on/off method describe above)

    Teachers need to be tuned in to listen. Most poor turning techniques that lead to catches make varying sounds.

    Class room setup can reduce injury. Watch for tripping hazards, Tape any wires down, if possible arrange lathes in an outward facing horse shoe. Remind student to stay out of the line of Fire on their classmates lathes.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2017
  5. john lucas

    john lucas

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    speed and standing in the line of fire. The two things that seem to cause the most serious problems are cracked wood and speed. People should understand from the very start that turning wood that has defects of cracks can kill you. When you have the experience then you might try those but new turners don't and often have wood that has pretty severe checks and try to turn it anyway. In my classes it was the older guys who thought you had to run the wood really fast to turn it. That and their lack of skills with the tools causes the most serious catches. I agree with Mark 100%. Some of the newer lathes and my Powermatic is one of them, when you start the lathe it starts up at whatever speed you shut it off at. What we try to teach them at the Appalachian Center for Craft where I teach is to never use the on/off button. Always use the speed button to turn the lathe "on and Off". This eliminates that problem. For production turning or small spindles it's really wonderful to have the speed and on off switch seperate but for beginners I think the lathe should always start up at slow speed. Not standing in the line of fire is a must at start up. When you are turning quite often it's almost impossible because you need to see the form the get the best shape. In spindle turning it's next to impossible not to stand in the line of fire. It is a good thing however to discuss this and get them to try their best to stand to the side, especially when increasing the speed. There was an older man at John C Campbell a bunch of years back who had finished a segmented piece and was sanding it. It exploded and gave him several stitches in his head. If he had been standing out of the line of fire he would have stood a much greater chance of not being hit. That won't prevent all injuries because you can't predict where the piece will actually go. I was turning a piece of what I though was solid wood the other day. It had wind shake and blew apart. Hit my wrist really hard but didn't hit my head. Which brings me to the next point. Wear a face shield.
     
  6. Clifton C

    Clifton C

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    All of the above, plus...
    The idea that a student is using a different/new to them lathe, even if it is the same model as their own, should be stressed. Check out the lathe, front to back, top to bottom, you never know who/what was turned last, i.e.pens (fast) bowls (maybe slow), check the speed setting range so it is right for you, don't assume.
    If the lathe has a sliding headstock, don't assume it is locked, check it.
    What speed should I turn? An oft heard question. Ha ha ha...just turn the speed up till the lathe starts shakin, then turn it down a bit...ha ha...
    We've all heard it, we may have even said it...It was probably true on my old sheet metal base, round tube, 95 pound when soaking wet lathe, but the lathes of today don't behave the same. We need a better answer to the question. Some of our students are fearless, they didn't grow up working in a garage, shop, farm environment where you got bit by "little things" and learned by inference, that the "bigger things" probably hurt worser...
    I agree with John on using the speed knob as an on/off switch, If used like a clock, students understand "about 12 o'clock" or "between one and two" or don't go past 1:30ish.
    Jamie, I'd like to see your list once you're done, just reread your question which was "how people hurt themselves" I think most of the responses are how not to hurt yourself or, how to keep yourself from getting hurt...How I hurt myself? Luckily I don't do it that often, I'll think about it and get back to you...
     
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  7. Barry Crowder

    Barry Crowder

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    I think of the dangers of woodturning as mainly things getting caught in the moving parts (e.g. jewelry, clothing, fingers), and things leaving the lathe, usually due to a catch but sometimes because of a defect, with speed being a multiplier.

    PPE like a face shield obviously help, and I am on-board with wearing one, but it's a last line defense. Technique and knowledge to properly mount the workpieces in the lathe, stay out of the line of fire, avoid catches, understand the grain, etc. are things that reduce the need for face shields.

    Woodturning dust is one that I think is often overlooked. Breathing fine dust may not have an immediate effect, and the story of the sinus infection that you got from breathing dust may not grab out attention like a violent catch will, but if you don't take steps to avoid breathing dust, it will have a chronic effect on most people's health. Knowing the dangers of specific types of woods like some exotics and spalted woods is a must.


    As an aside, I have watched quite a few dramatic catches on YouTube, and I make a habit of watching them to see if can tell what the turner did to contribute. In the majority of them, the turner stuck the edge of the tool into end grain and while the catch was predictable, few of the turners understood what they did wrong. Greater knowledge of grain orientation and how the tools interact with it would go a long way.
     
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  8. Mark Lindquist

    Mark Lindquist

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    Speed speed speed.
    As has been mentioned above, speed can be a killer. Potentially the worst.
    I have been shocked recently watching turners turn bowls at such high speeds.
    Oddly, they turn at these high speeds and then ultimately use power sanding to get a great finish.
    Turning at slower speeds with sharp tools can accomplish the same thing, especially if using abrasives to finish surfaces.

    Just one note about face shields. I agree they are important. However, most face shields become obscured by fine dust which becomes attracted to the plastic from static electricity. In some cases, if the face shield isn't periodically cleaned, ironically it can become a hazard itself.

    Face shields can provide a false sense of security. Proper instruction in the use of a face shield is advised.

    Lathe area cleanliness is important as well. I see people standing on piles of foot high shavings which changes correct body position and leaves footing mushy. Having a good push broom nearby for quick clearing of the working area is a must IMO.

    A dangerous situation in a lathe instruction class is having too many students per instructor. I believe that instructors should have studio helpers to be able to keep a close eye on students. It's just when you as an instructor have your back turned that the accident happens.

    A student that knows a little is as dangerous as a loaded gun. Instructors must recognize, the dangers of "little knowledge" students (as discussed above) and take proper precautions to safeguard themselves.

    One last item:

    People wearing flip flops in the shop are at serious risk. When a chisel or gouge rolls off a table it travels heavy-side down, right into the foot or toes of the flip-flop wearing student. Shavings become easily trapped within flip flops and can trip people up as well.
     
  9. Richard Coers

    Richard Coers

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    Jamie, Sounds like a good way to take a lot of fun out of turning sessions. Are you going to have turning safety police watching everyone? Video cameras to record mistakes? Can't imagine trying to compose a comprehensive list of all the mistakes, at all skill levels, that people can make in an open shop area. Sorry, but feels like a wild goose chase to me.
     
  10. Mark Lindquist

    Mark Lindquist

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    Richard, I understand what you are saying about the fun aspect of learning turning being important. When my father and I taught the very first class in woodturning at Arrowmont back in 1981, when we were setting up the woodturning program, we had a few accidents that in and of themselves took away all fun for the other students at the time. One accident was when a gouge rooled off a bench and went sharp edge first into a guy's foot. He had changed to flip flops after lunch and we didn't notice. He made so much noise from the pain, many became temporarily unnerved. Next, a seasoned woodworker knicked his index finger on a bandsaw and he thought he had cut his hand off. There he was on his back, on the floor, eye's closed, holding his hand, rocking side to side, quietly wailing to himself. Thankfully, a surgeon was in the class, walked right over to him, told him calmly to show him his hand. It really was only a small knick. He took the guy by the arm and told him to stand up. Then he put a bandaid on his cut and told him to go back to work.

    Accidents can and do happen. When they occur in classes, it affects everyone. When major lathe accidents occur, it puts a pall over the whole session. I have not had anything overly serious ever happen while teaching, but I have seen it in classes others have taught. Believe me, it is not fun.
    There are two means of teaching: instruction and correction. Of course people go to have fun turning, but presumably they also go to learn what NOT to do as well as what to do. Being corrected when doing something that could become a costly accident, can prove to be priceless in the long run.

    Criticizing safety aspects of turning programs is definitely not cool, especially when there have been many deaths due to improper procedures and careless program directors. You might want to rethink your statement and position.

    Best,

    Mark
     
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  11. Richard Coers

    Richard Coers

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    Oh I have no issue with safety being taught. I guess what I am struck by, with the original post, is the idea of listing all the safety issues for all skill levels of turners in a comprehensive list of standards. ALL the ways haven't been invented yet! Then judging those individuals on their knowledge and skills so they can be placed in tiers. It's my experience that a beginner is frightened to even ask a question in front of others. Let alone make them stand up and turn something so they can be rated. I see that as a solid way of not getting beginners to join.
     
  12. Mark Lindquist

    Mark Lindquist

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    Just curious what you might suggest as a plan to evaluate students prior to allowing them to use machines on their own, Richard?

    In 2011, a women got her hair caught in a wood lathe in a chemistry lab at Yale University where she was working on her own at night. She was killed in the accident. Yale was found at fault.
    These tragedies can occur, and if they continue to happen at escalating rates, pretty soon there will be no more facilities to provide woodturning opportunities as insurance companies will begin to refuse coverage.

    I'm not sure I understand what or how the OP would do with the information, other than attempt to gather the facts first. This is a tough call for administrators whose responsibility it is to ensure safeguards for students as well as instructors.

    There was an instructor at the Worcester Craft Center in Worcester, Mass who put a segmented piece on a Rockwell 4 step pulley lathe, the kind widely used in shop classes in High Schools for decades, who was killed when he started the lathe which brought the piece immediately up to the lathe's top speed. He was by himself working alone and became yet another lathe accident fatality.
    That ended a very long program of woodworking, due to lawsuits.

    Pop up workshops are one thing, where instructors themselves are responsible for their classes and students. But institutions that have turning programs are a different story. They have to do due dilligence. From the way I understand it, this is an information gathering stage. Coming up with a list of "perils" is not a bad idea - it seems to me it would be how the information was presented.

    So I ask again, how would you approach the issue the OP raises?

    Thanks!

    Mark
     
  13. Richard Coers

    Richard Coers

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    Firstly, I think a multi page handout on every safety standard a group of people can think of, is going to hold someone's attention for about the first half sheet. Remember we are working with people that work in short bursts on social media these days. Secondly, when you think you give someone a comprehensive list of safety guidelines, they will go home and creatively hurt themselves with a method you never thought of, and then they have proof that you didn't tell them that method was dangerous. Opening yourself to litigation of course!

    I taught a lot of classes at Woodcraft when we had a store in Peoria. I limited a beginner class to 4 people. No one turned on a lathe for the first 20 minutes. I felt that was the maximum time I could hold their attention while I explained safety, tools, and what I could verbally and graphically explain about woodturning. The next half hour was an overview of sharpening. Then everyone watched me demo the tools and proper hand and body positions. So for about 65-70 minutes, no one turned anything. Then everyone got a 2x2 about 8" long. I insisted everyone check the speed setting before hitting the switch, then I stood in the middle of the lathe circle so I could get to everyone in just a few steps. When they started turning, I told them that no one was going home with a finished project in a beginner class. If I saw someone struggling, I actually put my one hand on the chisel. If I saw a safety issue, I had everyone shut off their lathes and I would go over it again. Bowl turning was a second class.

    No list is a substitute for hands on learning.
     
  14. Jamie Straw

    Jamie Straw

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    No, Richard -- you're waaayyyyyy off-base..I'm seeking info from the experienced teachers here -- the one's who've probably seen it all, or darned close to it -- because they know about things I haven't seen or experienced. The whole point is, people in this environment do work independently, and we want them to be safe! So, if they haven't taken a class, but are experienced turners, they need to show us they know how to turn without getting in trouble. Then, they're checked off and happily on their way. I turn there 2 or 3 days/week, and the only people "watching" me are touring the facility.
     
  15. Jamie Straw

    Jamie Straw

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    THAT'S NOT WHAT I'M DOING! Richard, chill. You are assuming facts not in evidence. I'm just gathering information for my own edification.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2017
  16. Jamie Straw

    Jamie Straw

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    And, to everyone else, thank you very, very much. I'll be learning through your experiences as I read this thread through a few times. I'm supposed to be preparing to teach next week's class, so "Bye for now."
     
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  17. Jamie Straw

    Jamie Straw

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    Kinda the opposite of when I last injured myself (horses) --thought I'd just cut my arm and it turn out to be a "degloving injury" -- nearly severed an artery and nerves. Hardly even hurt for the first hour, but I was in shock so bad they had me under about 6 blankets in the ER.
     
  18. Joe Greiner

    Joe Greiner

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  19. Mark Lindquist

    Mark Lindquist

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    Jamie - Safety protocols can become good habits. Good habits (like snap-starting and step-aside starting) can save lives. Bad habits can result in accidents. Simple rules for turners to live by. If you concentrate on the "big"things that cause the most accidents, you'll cover a lot of bases.
    There's a lot of good information here in this thread - many good comments from some excellent instructors.
     
  20. Mark Lindquist

    Mark Lindquist

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    Thanks Joe -

    RE-POSTING HERE FOR CONVENIENCE:

    Safety is YOUR responsibility.
    1. Always wear safety goggles or safety glasses that include side protectors. Use a full faceshield for bowl, vessel, or any turning involving chucks and faceplates.
    2. Fine particles from a grinder and wood dust are harmful to your respiratory system. Use a dust mask, air filtration helmet, proper ventilation, dust collection system, or a combination of these to deal with this serious issue. Be especially mindful of dust from many exotic woods, spalted woods, or any wood from which you notice a skin or respiratory reaction.
    3. Wear hearing protection during extended periods of turning.
    4. Turn the lathe off before adjusting the tool rest or tool rest base, i.e., banjo.
    5. Remove chuck keys, adjusting wrenches, and knockout bars. Form a habit of checking for these before turning on the lathe.
    6. Tie back long hair; do not wear gloves; and avoid loose clothing, jewelry, or any dangling objects that may catch on rotating parts or accessories.
    7. When using a faceplate, be certain the workpiece is solidly mounted with stout screws (#10 or #12 sheet metal screws as a minimum). Do not use dry wall or deck screws. When turning between centers, be certain the workpiece is firmly mounted between the headstock driving center and tailstock center.
    8. Ensure the belt guard or cover is in place.
    9. Check that all locking devices on the tailstock and tool rest assembly (rest and base) are tight before operating the lathe.
    10. Ensure the blank is securely fastened.
    11. Rotate your workpiece by hand to make sure it clears the toolrest and bed before turning the lathe on. Be certain that the workpiece turns freely and is firmly mounted. A handwheel on the headstock simplifies this process of spinning the lathe by hand before turning on the switch.
    12. Be aware of what turners call the "red zone” or "firing zone.” This is the area directly behind and in front of the workpiece, the areas most likely for a piece to travel as it comes off the lathe. A good safety habit is to step out of this zone when turning on the lathe, keeping your hand on the switch in case you need to turn the machine off. When observing someone else turn, stay out of this zone.
    13. Always check the speed of the lathe before turning it on. Use slower speeds for larger diameters or rough pieces and higher speeds for smaller diameters and pieces that are balanced. Always start a piece at a slower speed until the workpiece is balanced. If the lathe is shaking or vibrating, lower the speed. If the workpiece vibrates, always stop the machine to verify why. As a starting point, consult your operator’s manual for recommended speeds for a particular lathe. Ensure the lathe speed is compatible with the size of the blank.
    14. Exercise extra caution when using stock with cracks, splits, checks, bark pockets, knots, irregular shapes, or protuberances. Beginners should avoid these types of stock until they have greater knowledge of working such wood.
    15. Hold turning tools securely on the toolrest, holding the tool in a controlled but comfortable manner. Always contact the tool rest with the tool before contacting the wood.
    16. Note that, when running a lathe in reverse, it is possible for a chuck or faceplate to unscrew unless it is securely tightened or locked on the lathe spindle.
    17. Know your capabilities and limitations. An experienced woodturner is capable of lathe speeds, techniques, and procedures not recommended for beginning turners.
    18. Always remove the tool rest before sanding, finishing, or polishing operations.
    19. Don’t overreach, keep proper footing, and keep your balance at all times.
    20. Keep lathe in good repair. Check for damaged parts, alignment, binding of moving parts, and other conditions that may affect its operation.
    21. Keep tools sharp and clean for better and safer performance. Don’t force a dull tool. Don’t use a tool for a purpose that it was not designed for or intended for.
    22. Consider your work environment. Don’t use a lathe in damp or wet locations. Do not use in presence of inflammable liquids or gases, and always keep a fully-charged fire extinguisher close at hand. Keep your work area well lit.
    23. Stay alert. Watch what you are doing. Pay close attention to unusual sounds or vibrations. Stop the lathe to investigate the cause. Don’t operate machines when you are tired or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
    24. Guard against electric shock. Inspect electric cords for damage. Avoid the use of extension cords.
    25. Never leave the lathe running unattended. Turn power off. Don’t leave lathe until it comes to a complete stop.
    26. Many accidents to woodturners occur while using saws, especially band and chain saws. Learn and follow the safety guidelines for this equipment.
     

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