Skip to main content

Danger, Will Robinson!

  • Author:
  • Updated:

Safety is the prime directive when using any tool, and I don’t question that. What I question is the shear amount and incomprehensibility of most safety instructions.

I’ve griped here before that the safety instructions on a tool (any device, really) are often lengthier than instructions for the tool itself. The typical user manual may have six pages of warnings and only two pages that tell you how to properly operate the tool. This makes no sense to me. Seems to me that thorough, complete operating instructions would have the greatest positive impact on safety. This seems especially true when the long list of warnings and precautions frequently include mandates that make little sense.

When I bought my benchtop drill press, I was stuck by one warning emphasizing that the user should never stand on top of it. Who would do that? It seems to me that anyone stupid enough to use a benchtop drill press as a ladder would likewise be sufficiently stupid to ignore such a warning. (And, once ignored, followed with, “Hey, watch this!”)

Now as dumb as that warning seems, at least it’s understandable. I recently bought a cheap heat gun, and in the manual were the usual warnings you’d expect about electrical tools, both sensible and silly, but there was also this warning: “Modifications not approved by party/parties responsible for compliance may void user’s authority to operate this equipment.


I have no clue what that means, and after using the heat gun several times I wonder if I violated that warning and voided whatever authority I have left. I may very well have, but I really have no idea.

But at least I didn’t stand on it.



Related Articles

Order of danger

What’s the most dangerous thing in the woodshop? The list is a long one.