Safety is emphasized throughout the timber and construction industries during the first full week of May each year. Workshop and equipment safety are frequently highlighted during what is known as Woodworker’s Safety Week. While workshop and equipment safety are significant considerations, there are further safety concerns to think about from the time when your lumber arrives at your workshop or project site. When moving rough lumber about and delivering it to your workshop or job site, safety begins at the lumber yard.
Maneuvering and Lifting
The tremendous weight of individual boards in the standard 8- to 12-foot board size which are available at lumber yards is a potential safety hazard to consider. The weight of a single FAS 8/4×6 Cherry board that is 8 feet long is approximately 17 pounds. Even though it may not appear to be much, the combination of the board’s weight and length can put strain on little-used muscles, not to mention the fact that it’s enough to break a toe if you’re not cautious. Because exotic hardwoods are denser and come in greater sizes, a typical exotic hardwood board can weigh up to a whopping 70 pounds.
Unless you’re looking for an excuse to injure your lower back, you’ll want to raise the wood relying on your leg strength rather than your back, and rest one end of the board on something to avoid bearing the entire force of the weight. If you have to retrieve boards from a horizontal rack, make sure you lift them off the rack and onto the floor. Taking advantage of the lumber yard’s rolling carts as you transfer your purchases throughout the yard will also help you prevent harm to your back.
Working with Unfinished Wood
When working with rough-sawn lumber, you should always wear sturdy gloves to avoid splinters. Splinters are uncomfortable, but they can also lead to infections, which can cause more than just discomfort and disruption to your project timeline. Oils and resins, especially when working with exotic species, can induce severe responses, including blood poisoning. Domestic species, on the other hand, are not by default safe either: Many people are allergic to species such as Walnut or White Oak, and any species can trigger an allergic reaction. The stronger the fragrance during milling, the stronger the resins and oils, and the greater the likelihood of allergic reactions.
There are, however, far more serious possible repercussions to ignoring the dangers of not taking basic measures near table saws or high-speed carbides. By comparison, the injuries that can occur when moving rough lumber may appear insignificant. But keep in mind that it’s not an either/or situation: whenever you’re working with lumber, you must exercise caution and ensure your safety. We are most likely to be wounded when we believe there is little to no danger.