Serious lathe accidents and injurys.......a preventive idea

Discussion in 'Woodturning Health & Safety' started by odie, Oct 6, 2012.

  1. odie

    odie

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    The post concerning the accident Lynn Yamaguchi had at her lathe recently, has brought back a thought I had a few years ago, but never acted on it.......I think I've seen and heard enough of these personal injuries from lathe turners to finally do something for my own protection.......

    Since I've been participating on these AAW forums, very serious accidents have been all too common. Probably at least once or twice a year, someone has been very seriously injured, and it has been reported here.....and if I'm not mistaken, there was one death a couple years ago.

    It seems to me that most all of the more serious injuries were caused by partially turned blocks of wood that flew apart while the wood was still very heavy and solid. Before roughing is completed, the centrifugal forces are tremendous, because of the added weight involved. After the roughing stage, it appears as if the likelihood of the wood coming apart is greatly reduced.... (but not eliminated, of course!) A "catch" could always be a cause for bowl to break, no matter what stage of completion.......

    For years, I've contemplated getting a football helmet with wire cage for protection at the lathe during the roughing stage of some "suspect" problem bowls. After looking over football, hockey, and lacrosse helmets, I've decided the overall best cage designs are on the helmets designed for ice hockey. The cages here seem to be better suited, because of the tighter mesh of the wire cage.

    In trying to anticipate comments from one of our members here.....I realize the common safety precaution for turners is to simply stay out of the "line of fire" when turning.......but, there are times when I'd prefer to have the best view of what I'm doing, and the best positioning of my body for the cutting I'm doing at the moment.......therefore, having the hockey helmet is a safety measure that allows that preference, and covers the safety concerns to what seems like an adequate degree. (I've never tried the helmet, so I'm making assumptions on it's application, for the moment.)

    Having this hockey helmet is going to reduce the "pucker factor" I'm sure most all of us have felt from time to time. Since I don't intend to use it in every case, but a few that seem likely to be problematic, there is still a certain amount of gamble I'm willing to take........but, the odds of my avoiding an injury will be greatly improved! :cool2:

    I anticipate not using, or needing the chin strap. Hopefully I'll be able to use my Resp-o-rator while using the helmet, but if removal of the chin strap doesn't give enough room for that, the cage itself can be modified somewhat to allow for it......I think.

    Any comments on this is certainly encouraged......thanks!

    Here is a photo of the type of ice hockey helmet I'm in the market to purchase:


    ooc
     

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  2. MichaelMouse

    MichaelMouse

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  3. Paul M. Kaplowitz

    Paul M. Kaplowitz

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    Protection

    I have used an Airmate Three for over 15 years. This has a heavy Lexan face plate attached to a hard hat. It also has a filter box with a fan attached by a hose to the hard hat. I have been hit so hard that it cracked the face shield with no damage to my face. This was due to a bark inclusion that was not visible from the outside of the blank. Anyone turning without a heavy face shield and head protection is gambling on a serious accident. And I don't like the odds. Sooner or later a piece of wood, bark or other will come flying off the lathe. That is a consequence of what we do.
     
  4. odie

    odie

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    MM.......

    You are the person whom I tried to anticipate his comments......sigh.

    I'm not interested in adding a cage to my lathe, or purchasing a lathe that has one.

    I'm not anticipating a concussion, due to sustained and repeated blows to my head over an extended period of time.......just trying to prevent an injury like Lynn Yamaguchi had, and a few others have had while at their lathes. I'd be willing to bet she didn't think it would ever happen to her, either.....:(


    ooc
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2012
  5. odie

    odie

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    Yep.....truth there, Paul.......:D

    Besides the Resp-o-rator, I have had an Airstream helmet for 20 years now. It's probably better than my regular face shield, but would your Airmate, or my Airstream hold up to the kind of blow that broke all the bones on the side of Lynn Yamaguchi's face? They might, but I suspect we are getting into the kind of territory that neither of these air filtration devices were intended to accommodate.........Without looking it up, I believe she said the piece that hit her was a kilo.......2.2 lbs, and at 1200 rpm......that sounds like it might have been a pretty serious blow.........wouldn't you think?

    I've pretty much decided to get the hockey helmet for the specific use I perceive. I won't be using it that much, but when I do, it will be comforting to know it's there........;)

    thanks

    ooc
     

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  6. Gynia

    Gynia

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    Have you considered a ballistic helmet and face mask. These things are designed to protect against bullets and shrapnel. The down side is cost. But if you want protection from flying hunks of wood thes things will protect your head and face. I doubt that someone accustom to turning bare faced would wear one of these for very long. But wearing this while roughing suspect wood, along with safe turning practices should make a turning "event" survivable with perhaps a case of whiplash.

    Learning how to make a cut while keeping your head out of the way is a safe turning practice which we should all promote. If you take as a turning requirement that your head remains out of the way when making all cuts then you will soon find that there is little or no advantage to a cut that is made where your head is in danger. Your face and head can still get HIT with a flying hunk of wood but the majority of flying wood will be a fly by instead of an attack.
     
  7. Fred Belknap

    Fred Belknap

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    Thanks for bring up this topic. Something similar usually comes up after someone has a significant accident to warrant posting about it. The usual conclusion is to wear a face shield, turn at a lower rpm, stay out of the line of fire, all of which most of us violate to some extent. The guard on the PM line of lathes is mostly for law suit mitigation. The face shield is good for small chips and shavings and would do very little to slow down a 1 or 2 pound object. The hockey helmet and metal face shield looks like it might work but I have my doubts if it will ever be widely accepted. What is needed is some type of protection built into the lathe at the factory that actually works. I sure that engineers have thought about how to do it but doubt if there is a way without adding quite a bit of additional expense. Think along the idea of a movable shield attached to the banjo or toolrest that would protect the head and face but have opening on the bottom for tools. Maybe a swing away guard on the headstock or tailstock.
     
  8. odie

    odie

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    Hey, thanks for the ballistics helmet idea, Gynia...........


    That would be an option, if they weren't so expensive.......around $650 new. It's possible to get lucky, and find a used one dirt cheap, but I don't think it's as likely as finding a good used sports helmet that will do just as well as the ballistics helmet w/bullet proof face shield. (I do see quite a few ballistics helmets without frontal protection, that are quite a bit cheaper.)

    I'm hoping to get what I want for around $25+shipping used, but it looks like I might have to spend a little more than that.

    You know, I'd have to agree that much of the time you can stay out of the way without limiting performance of the cut, but from my point of view, there are times where the best cut is had with flow of body movement that is unrestricted. Being able to have the best view of what you are doing is another thing that isn't always the best without restrictions of where your eyes can be. Some species, and gnarly, figured, burly, swirly, knotty, bark inclusions, .....and, otherwise most beautiful pieces of wood, are exactly the ones that are the most demanding, dangerous, and requires the most skill to turn.....are the very ones that benefit the most from unrestricted body and eye limitations. Because of these things that are absolutes to my application of turning.........I'm one that will disagree with your assessment that restricting these things makes no difference at all, to everyone, and under all circumstances.

    If I were going to give advice to a novice turner, I'd never advise that person to do what I intend to do........but, just like in most all things requiring skill where there is risk, you'll hear from those who advance their skill by pushing the limits of safety. This doesn't mean that safety is thrown out the window altogether........but, it does mean that where safety can be implemented with a reasonable attention to the risks, then some safety concerns can become less limiting to the most advantageous application of skill........ That may not be a reasonable statement to some people reading this, but I'm quite sure there are others who fully understand the point I'm making.......:D

    I'm one who is restricted in many ways where I work as a production machinist. There are many OSHA regulations that are limiting to both speed and quality of production.....but, are requirements of the job by law. Many of these regulations are in place because they cover the least common denominator, and not specific to the individual alertness, or skill level of any one machine operator. In my own shop, the only limiting factors are what I decide they will be. By giving this example, I hope a few might better understand the value of restrictions that one can choose to follow, as opposed to what one is required to, or taught to follow. To them, it might make a little sense......to the majority, it probably never will......

    ooc
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2012
  9. odie

    odie

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    Some good ideas and thinking here, Fred..........

    Thanks for taking the time to reply. I think you're right that the hockey helmet isn't likely to have popular support among woodturners. As do you, I think it will work for the purpose as well, and if it does.......it will be worth whatever it costs! It's the route I've decided to take......until something better comes along.

    Your ideas about movable guard or shield attaching to tool rest/banjo are food for thought, too........With a little effort, all these things are possible through a little individual effort and enginuity. Who knows, some creative person could come up with an idea that would be beneficial to the rest of us..........:cool2:

    ooc
     
  10. robo hippy

    robo hippy

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    I believe it was Will Rogers who said, "Good judgement comes from experience, and experience comes from, well, bad judgement." My first line of defense is standing out of the line of fire. This was burned into my behavior habits on the lathe by turning a lot of sloppy wet wood (any one ever invent wind shield wipers for a face mask or glasses?). The second line of defense is being able to judge just how much risk there is in turning any particular piece of wood, and turning accordingly. This is the experience part, which is some thing that you can give a lot of instruction about, but can't really teach.

    Paul, I would be willing to bet that the bark inclusion that 'was not visible from the outside' was really visible, you just did not see it. If you were to go back and really look at the piece, especially when finished, there was most likely a hint of what was there. Kind of like the guy turning that piece of apricot a few months ago, which had a bark inclusion through the entire piece. I could see it before he started turning it, and just as he bent over to see up close what he was doing, it blew up.

    I do remember seeing a thread a year or so ago, as the helmet thing keeps coming up, about 'impact ratings' for helmets. Can't remember where though. We need eye protection, head protection, and proper suspension for the helmet. This is where the positive pressure helmets come in as when your face is enclosed and protected, air flow is restricted, and your mask will fog up, especially if you are a heavy breather like I am. Yes, let the hot air comments flow! I still have a CPAP (snoring machine) that I got some years back for this use, but haven't applied yet. Maybe some day, but it is not portable.

    robo hippy
     
  11. ray hampton

    ray hampton

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    Are your toolrest made out of steel, then use a magnet and attach a shield to said magnet, we can buy magnets that are release by turning a switch
     
  12. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    They would not be suitable for use by woodturners because they would not absorb any of the energy of a flying hunk of wood. Their energy absorbing mechanism works on high-velocity low-mass projectiles because of its elastomeric properties that deform and dissipate the kinetic energy as heat. By comparison, a piece of wood flying off the lathe is low velocity and heavy mass. It might protect your face, but the consequences of repetitive brain trauma is not the right way to "use your head".
     
  13. odie

    odie

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    I have several of those magnets that I purchased at HF originally intended as a machinist's magnetic base. I don't see how what you are suggesting can be successfully done without it getting in the way, as they are several inches in length and width. Even if it was feasible, it doesn't seem like they would have the holding power necessary to stop the kind of forces we're discussing. Have you made one of these yourself?

    ooc

    If you look on top of my lathe's headstock, you will see three of the magnets there......two holding lamps, and another I use for holding a laser pointer.
     

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  14. odie

    odie

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    Ain't that the truth! Will Rogers has some "horse sense"! It's one of those things that has made great Americans, great!......I wish it were more common in today's world......:D

    Robo Hippy........If you wouldn't mind, I would like to see some of your lathe work. I couldn't find your gallery......could you link us to it, or web page, or where ever it is we can take a look at your current turnings, please? It would help a great deal if I, and other forum participants could reference what you say, to a visual of what you do. In all these years of knowing you, I don't think I've ever seen any examples of your turnings.....imagine that!

    thanks

    ooc
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2012
  15. MichaelMouse

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    Difference between prevention and mitigation. Armoring up would certainly help mitigate damage in the event, but the aim should be to prevent. Her blog indicates she knew the preventive measures - low energy, sound wood, stay out of the throw zone. She just didn't use them for the sake of expediency. She also mentions that she had removed her face shield, which might have mitigated the damage that observing any one of the three might have prevented.

    Hope things work out for her.

    There is a pretty good guard on all the machines now called a toolrest. Put it up as close as possible to the work. I've seen too many who won't even rotate the rest inside a bowl so it would catch it if the bowl took a catch and started to climb, or won't use the tilt in the traditional rest over center on the outside to defend against the same. There is also the tool in the hand of the operator, which should be working as far from his face as possible. Don't need to lean and squint. You can feel what's going on an extra two feet away. It will push a full dismount away from you, just as the properly positioned rest will do.

    Then there are the muff and music set, who, in my opinion are increasing the likelihood of not hearing a developing disaster in their work. Even if the wood seems sound, if it makes a sound, there's something going wrong. Clicks from dry, clunks from wet are an instant off - with a switch out of the throw zone - and stand back until rotation ceases. Fill is not necessarily glue, so glue to turn, fill later.

    Accident prevention begins - and ends - between the ears. Injury from unsafe practices might be mitigated by the shields manufacturers provide, but not if we don't use them. The helmet used on the football field is form-fitted and impact absorbing, and still a whack can result in a concussion, so imagine how much less any substitute device will do.
     
  16. odie

    odie

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    After checking online for used hockey helmets, I decided to run down and check to see what Play It Again Sports had, if anything.

    I purchased this used ice hockey helmet for $19.99, and couldn't be happier......no sales tax and no shipping charges!

    Don't anticipate the need for this helmet very often, but I'll be glad to have it for those times I question the safety of certain pieces of wood.

    At that price, I wish I had done this years ago......it's like an insurance policy of sorts!:D

    ooc
     

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  17. Ian Thorn

    Ian Thorn

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    And if it dosnt work you can allways take up ice hocky
     
  18. Jim Livingston

    Jim Livingston

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    My 2 cents worth!

    In reading Lynne's blog (which is quit detailed, and I thank her for that), she made one fundamental error! She assumed that because she was not cutting that she was not in danger - but in fact if the lathe is on there is danger! It's in these moments when we let our guard down - for just a moment - that we invite disaster. Had she been wearing her face shield which she removed to answer the phone, her injuries would have been greatly reduced if not all together avoided. I suspect the shield would certainly have saved her eye.

    So bottom line in this instance (IMHO) wasn't that her safety equipment was inadequate, she just didn't have it on!

    Now to the helmet: Although that hockey helmet is certainly better than nothing I doubt it's been tested for this application, hence the helmet itself could prove to be a hazard. Also most of the hockey helmets I have seen do not have a polycarbonate shield to protect you from smaller projectiles that could easily get past the face guard!
     
  19. Gretch Flo

    Gretch Flo

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    hockey helmet

     
  20. odie

    odie

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    Mornin' Gretch.......

    Yes, you are correct. These helmets for hockey have to be certified for use in the sport. I'm not sure what it involves, but there is a testing procedure. The helmet appears pretty rugged to me, and I'd say Jim Livingston is a little overly concerned in there having some testing done specifically for woodturning. The sport is brutal, and you are right that the wooden hockey sticks are wooden and can be thought of as very similar to what we as woodturners are concerned with. .......

    I've never been much interested in hockey either, but the sport has a very dedicated following of fans.

    Since I gave up TV watching altogether, I am unable to follow any sports, but I did love watching football.......:D

    ooc

    Note: Below are a couple random examples of bowls that I probably would have used the hockey helmet, if I had one. This is not limited to just the roughing stage, but final finish work, as well. For those who believe that observation of the tool progress and unrestricted body movement have no benefits to a woodturner......well, they are certainly entitled to their opinion......and, so am I!....;)

    ooc
     

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