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Standards are solid ground in today’s ever-shifting world

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Everybody’s got standards. Some are high and some are low. I knew a guy in college who didn’t appear to have any, but that’s beside the point.

The woodworking industry has a slew of them.

There’s a performance standard for cabinets from the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association; interior woodwork standards from the Architectural Woodwork Institute; and skill standards from the Woodwork Career Alliance, just to list a few.

The latest standard covers safety requirements for CNC machinery centers, recently approved by the American National Standards Institute.

“The standard [provides] information about how to safely work around the machines. It talks about guarding, how to safely load and unload and make sure you have the proper interlocks to work safely within that environment,” says Jim Laster, chairman of the Wood Machinery Manufacturers Association technical standards committee, which developed the standard.

“It lists things that are manufacturers’ responsibilities and things that are the end users’ responsibilities. The standards for the installation, care and use of the machine help the end user to understand the things that should have been given to them from a safety standpoint by the manufacturer and the things that he’s responsible for as an end user.”

The standard, ANSI 01.1-3, costs $25 and can be ordered from Similar standards have also been developed for shapers, straight-line rip saws, edgebanders and other woodworking machines. Woodshop News got a free copy as a member of the WMMA. ANSI offers site and package licenses to keep costs down.

The standard is 40 pages long and covers CNCs from stem to stern. It’s hardly an exciting read, but know this: these standards are adopted by the Department of Labor as regulations under the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Act. That means you can be fined by an OSHA inspector for not following a standard and ignorance is a poor defense.

Therefore, becoming informed is essential. Visiting is a good place to start, beginning with the “Help for Employers” page. Force yourself to read through OSHA’s general industry standards. I’ve found relevant information for a woodworking business by using the site’s e-tool to search for “Wood products: Woodworking.”

This is something you’ve got to stay on top of for the sake of your business.

Letters to the editor

At IWF, someone asked why we’ve stopped publishing letters to the editor. We haven’t. We’re just not getting many letters.

I suppose it’s a sign of the times. Our blogs and social media sites are setting monthly records for increased activity. So we have audience participation. But I kind of miss reading a letter addressed to me, the editor. I think some of you do, too.

So send us your comments about stories in the magazine, your take on whatever’s happening in the industry and even your criticism and critiques. You can still use a pen and paper, though we’d prefer something typed and sent by email. Our address is

Then, you can read all about it, right here in the pages of Woodshop News.

This article originally appeared in the December 2014 issue.

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