Studio or workspace safety is the most important consideration when setting up and operating a home jewellery making studio. Safety issues should not be overlooked in your jewellery studio and while it might sound daunting, it really is quite simple to create a safe space. In the long term, taking precaution will protect you and those you love. Your health and well-being is too precious to not take serious precaution. Failing to take your safety seriously could lead to accidents and a range of serious issues including damage to eyes and other areas of the body, poisoning, burns and fires.
To incorporate appropriate safety measures you need to first have an understanding of the tools and materials that you are working with. You need to be aware of the hazards that exist within your studio and then work to eliminate or reduce any associated risks. Read the warnings and the Material Safety and Data Sheets (MSDS) for the products and materials you are working with. The MSDS provides consumers with information on the potentially harmful effects of the product and explains how to safely handle and store the material. Many products will have MSDS reports online which should be found through a Google search, or by contacting the manufacturer.
Below are some necessary precautions you should follow. These should not be used as an ultimate guide as safety requirements depends on individual circumstances.
Personal: Tie up your hair and avoid long and loose sleeves and long or dangling jewellery. Power tools can get caught on anything loose and dangling.
Power tools: Eye protection and lung protection needs to be considered when operating power tools. Wear a mask and safety goggles for protection against sharp objects, splashing chemicals and anything that may come into contact with your eyes.
Soldering: Ventilation for soldering fumes is essential.
Dust: Wear a dust mask when sanding, buffing or drilling. Decide what type to wear depending on the type of dust you’re working with. When purchasing a mask you will want one that can be fitted properly and is light in weight.
Dusts such as asbestos, cotton and silica can become stored between the air sacs of the lungs and will never escape again. The dust from shells, glass and pearls is dangerous so drill them in a small tray of water or keep them wet. The water will keep down the dust.
Sanding: Use a wet/dry sandpaper and keep it moist. Always wear a mask if sanding dry.
Powders: Metal powders and pigment powders can be absorbed through the skin and the lungs.
Resin, Epoxy, Lacquer and Varnish: Protect your skin and lungs.
Ventilation and Extraction: If you are doing a lot of sanding or finishing, adequate ventilation should be supplied. Dust collection systems are available but are pricey. Ventilation alone may not be an effective approach as what is needed is the complete removal of dust and fumes. A sucking device will suck away toxic materials as they are produced, removing them entirely from your workspace.
- Invest in good chair.
- An apron can be worn to protect your clothing.
- Make sure to install a lock on the door if you have small children.
- Keep a maintained fire extinguisher next to you in your studio if you will be working with a flame or torch.
- Ensure there is a clearance around exits and on workspaces when using tools.
- Keep all electrical cords out of the way.
- Never work with challenging materials or with a torch when you are over tired or under stress.
- Protect your hands and skin from contact with irritants and chemicals by using proper protective gloves.
You always want to aim for a well laid-out and orderly workshop that is well-maintained, and has appropriate work stations and lots of personal safety equipment. At all times when possible, choose procedures that don’t involve exposure to risks. Set up things so that you can’t hurt yourself and substitute less hazardous processes and materials for more dangerous ones. Fixing hazards and problems as they arise will also ensure you safety is maintained.