I've been doing a bunch of work on the shaper and every now and again I
get this visual of my fingers being mauled by the cutterhead. It
actually made me shudder a few days ago. Now I have been sort of
imagining it using other tools as well - table saw, jointer, etc...
I'd say I'm relatively safe by commercial shop standards, but I think
this is actually helping me to stay even more focused when using the
machines. It's not a fear of the tool, it's more of a clear vision of
what could happen if I don't pay attention and use proper technique.
Amazing thing, the mind.
Reminds me of a cabinet shop I went into along time ago. The owner had HUGE
push pads he built. They had rubber on the bottom. The handles were quite
large and well above the shaper (and jointer) bed. He also had a ridge all
around the top of the pushpads.
The whole idea was to keep the hands away from anything that could mangle
GOOD attitude, JP. It reminds me of what goes through my mind when I
strap on all the Safety Shtuff (boots, pants, jacket, gloves, and
helmet) before getting on a motorcycle EVERY time I ride. It isn't
fear; it's respect. It doesn't result in no risk; it results in
reduced risk. And it reminds me to seriously focus on what I'm about
to do. It's a good way to run most aspects of our lives, methinks.
-Don (feeling philosophical this evening)
Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine
Last April (the 1st, as SWMBO is quick to remind me) I ran my thumb into
my TS blade while it was running. In the car on the way to ER, I passed
out from the pain, and spent a number of weeks in agony with sensitivity
problems and worries about jamming that lil digit into anything.
10 months later it's still very sensitive, although not sore. Damage was
minimal and you really have to look to see that anything happened. I was
Every time I fire up the TS, router, or any other piece of machinery,
the memories of what I did come screaming back to me. Yeah, I can
visualize my finger/thumb/hand being mauled by hand tools too. As
someone else pointed out, it's not fear, but respect. Fear would prevent
me from even opening the door to the shop.
My level of respect for all my tools has increased dramatically. I wish
that respect had been there last April, but I'm very happy to have it
with me now.
What you're doing is becoming a standardized safety practice in many
It's called an "SPSA", for "Safe Practice Self Assessment", among
other things. Basically, it means that, at the beginning of every new
task, you ask yourself "What could go wrong" and "What do I need to do
so nothing goes wrong".
All of my clients (major oil companies) have implemented
behavior-based safety programs (e.g., "Loss Prevention System, "LPS")
of which SPSA's are a major component. The purpose is to identify and
change risky behavior BEFORE the accident occurs.
We were actually laughing about our "emergency response plan" the other
day if someone lost a thumb or something. It pretty much boiled down
to "freak right the hell out" and "run shrieking through the shop".
Then we all sort of got quiet for a minute and wandered off back to
work. It should be addressed, no doubt.
I've been "lucky" enough to witness some accidents for myself, and
that's enough to envision my own hands getting mangled. Large (and
hypnotic) production run, slipperly malemine... well, you know the story.
For those that haven't yet, go rent and watch "The Machinist" at least.
It doesn't give you the full picture... like what it's like to inspect
the blade afterwards.. it's was quite strange... not much blood but
bits of fingernail and what appeared to be hair on the carbide tips
that was sticking straight up from the rotation.
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