Safety is foremost in woodworking, but sometimes it takes knowing someone who’s had a serious injury to really make the message hit home.
Wait, did I just suggest that we, as woodworkers, don’t take safety seriously until something bad happens? Absolutely not. There’s nothing in the shop I take more seriously than my personal safety, sometimes to the point of ridiculous redundancy when performing various shop tasks.
Still, nothing reinforces the message more than personally knowing someone who’s been injured. I don’t mean someone who had an accident in the past. I know several people who were injured in the shop long before I met them. You probably do, too. But to know someone who now has only four fingers on a hand you’ve shaken that once had five… Well, that’s very, very different.
And that’s what I’m talking about. I just heard that someone I know slightly – I’ve only met him once or twice through historical reenacting activities – recently lost a finger in a table saw accident. Not sure what the exact circumstances of the accident were, but a person I know who was “whole” the last time I saw him now isn’t. And while numerous accounts of table saw accidents over the years have done their part to help keep me safe in my own shop endeavors, this one carries far more meaning.
I have no idea what he did that led to the accident. But as I head out into the shop today I know that I’ll be far more aware and diligent about doing anything that could possibly lead to the same result.