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Safety In Your Home and Workshopby Susan McElrath
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Since June brought with it Father's Day and lots of opportunity to try out new gadgets in your workshop, we offer this special Safety Topic as a reminder to put safety first around your home! Many of the industrial-oriented safety topics on this site can be applied to the home. Interestingly enough, safety principles such as lock-out/tag-out and hazard communication can help to prevent injuries from occurring at home. Read on for more ideas about hazardous materials and electrical safety around the home!
Most everyone's garage, workshop, basement, kitchen, and bathroom contains hazardous materials. Read the label on most any household-use chemical and you'll see a warning statement. Be sure to follow the label's instructions for using the material. There may be need for ventilation when using the substance. It may be important to keep the material at a certain temperature, away from extreme heat or cold. Keep in mind that mixing certain substances together (e.g., bleach and ammonia) can cause dangerous reactions.
Keep hazardous materials away from children at all times. If the unthinkable happens and the material is ingested, call poison control immediately, even if the label gives first-aid information. Have the container handy so you can provide accurate information to poison control.
Practice hazard communication at home. Don't remove warning labels from hazardous materials or place materials in an unlabeled container. If you allow older children to work with you, make sure you tell them of the hazards of these materials. Providing this information will start them on the right track to safety.
Electrical hazards may also be present in the home or workshop. Inspect your electric wires, appliances, and power tools frequently and have them repaired if necessary. Avoid the temptation to modify a power cord, plug, or outlet to accommodate outdated tools. For more information on power tool safety, see the article on the Safety Topics page.
Overloaded circuits present another problem. If you find your outlet receptacles are few and your electric needs are many, invest in an upgrade of your home's electric service. The investment is well worth eliminating the risk of electric shocks, fires, and damaged tools and appliances.
Principles of lock-out/tag-out can be applied at home to isolate energy sources and prevent inadvertent start-up of equipment. When working on electrical equipment, wiring-even changing a light bulb,shut off the electricity. Don't risk a shock. Other applications of lock-out/tag-out include turning off equipment such as lawn mowers, shredders, and snow blowers before you service them. This is especially important if the equipment has become jammed and you are trying to dislodge an object.
This week's special Safety Topic has provided suggestions for safety around the home. The home is full of potential dangers, but with a little common sense and a lot of commitment these dangers can be eliminated. Practice safety at home and on the job. You'll be setting a great example for the rest of the family to follow!