This blog has been updated on – May 04, 2022
When creating moulding and millwork, you need to ensure the safety of millworkers by following the correct procedures. Not doing so can lead to injury, illness, or worse. It is crucial to find ways to minimize the risks of handling millwork materials and prevent any complications that may result.
This write-up focuses on the health and safety of millworkers, potential dangers in some of the materials used, how to prevent and minimize vulnerability to diseases and illnesses, and much more.
Table of Contents:
Moulding and Millwork Materials and Related Health Challenges
Safety using millwork materials is absolutely essential in the development of moulding and millwork. Take a look at some of the ways you can ensure the health of millworkers.
It is important to note that, before any construction or renovation work is carried out, a full risk assessment should be conducted for each area and aspect of the project. Analyzing potential hazards is crucial to creating and maintaining a safe working environment for all workers.
Here are some general questions we recommend considering before a project commences:
Who is responsible for the safety and wellbeing of the workers on site?
Is this person able to keep themselves up-to-date on the latest information and guidelines regarding building safety, hazards and materials?
Who is in charge of reporting all safety breaches?
Is a qualified, well-equipped first-aid resource available?
Is the requisite protective equipment available?
Are all correct safety signs and notices clearly displayed?
Are all site workers and visitors fully aware of all the health and safety risks of the work?
Is the workplace efficient and organized?
Millworker Safety: Specific Materials
Plywood and Particle Boards
Plywood is produced by gluing sheets of wood together, while particleboards are produced by gluing wood dust and chips.
The glue used for these sheets needs to be handled with preventive measures. Here are some tips:
Use low-formaldehyde or wear a respirator to prevent inhaling formaldehyde.
Wear a mask during production processes such as sanding, machining, and heating, because chemicals such as formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide, phenol, carbon monoxide can be released.
Do not store plywood or composition boards in a closed area or they will release formaldehyde. Instead, store them in a well-ventilated location where people are not working.
Woods are usually treated for durability and top condition. Pesticides and preservatives are applied to keep the woods in the best condition possible.
For millworker safety, the following instructions can be followed:
Always wear a coverall coat and a mask when you are spraying wood with chemicals. Avoid inhaling the chemicals or letting them come in contact with your skin. This will help to prevent respiratory issues and skin irritation.
If you must use preservatives, use zinc and copper naphthenates.
Request the material safety data sheets regarding all chemicals used for the wood treatment.
Millwork, by its definition, involves the use of a wide variety of woods. When working with wood, the main challenge is often the dust that is emitted from it.
Eyewear can include safety glasses with side shields, or, in the right conditions, even a full face mask. Ideally, ensure that the eyewear meets OSHA standards.
You can use earmuffs or earplugs for ear protection.
Disposable dust masks or respirators can be used when cutting wood.
If dealing with toxic fumes, use a HEPA-filtered unit.
Do not wear any jewellery.
Disconnect power when changing bits or blades.
The blades you do use should be sharp; if they are dull or damaged, they can create harmful splinters. Sharp blades also have less kickback.
Check wood for any nails or pieces of metal before you begin working on it.
Bring your woodwork to the stationary cutting tool whenever possible. It is safer than forcing it onto a work surface.
Always use a single extension cord if you are using power tools at a longer distance than what their attached cord permits.
Do not ever reach over a running blade.
Plaster and Mold
Millworkers carve, cast, and model different types of millwork, whether stock or custom millwork. To achieve this, millworkers sometimes use various types of plaster in tandem with wood, such as plaster of Paris, white art plaster, clay plaster, etc.
Without protective equipment, one may risk being injured by debris or falling from a height when applying plaster to objects, walls or ceilings.
There are various ways to stay safe when handling plaster used for making moulding and millwork:
Protective equipment should be used by dryliners and plasterers when working on site. This can include protective eyewear for blocking pieces of plaster and airborne particles, shoes that are meant for use on ladders, and odor masks.
Wear a coverall coat along with safety goggles and gloves when working with different chemicals to prevent inhalation and absorption through the skin.
Any ladders should be secured on a stable and level base prior to climbing. While working, one should not overstretch or lean – instead, climb down and reposition the ladder where you need it so the risk of falling is reduced.
Stones are one of the materials used for millwork. Some of the stones millworkers use include alabaster, sandstone, greenstone, and limestone.
To get stones into the right shape and appearance, they undergo crushing, fracturing, scraping, chipping, flaking, sanding, polishing and pulverizing, with different types of tools. Soft stones can be cut with manual tools, but hard stones require pneumatic and electric tools.
A lesser-known hazard associated with stonemasonry is upper limb disorders, which can be caused by using certain electric/vibrating hand tools. Over time, vibrations can affect tendons, nerves, bones and muscles, and cause pain and sensitivity.
Avoid using soapstone, serpentine, and greenstone.
Wear safety goggles during the process of chipping, flaking, or carving rocks.
Do not attempt to catch falling tools or stones.
Use the right techniques when lifting stones to prevent back injuries.
Large sheets of stone should not be stored in a way that balances them on their edge; they can fall and crush workers.
Factor in that natural stone can have fissures that can cause it to crack or even shatter while you are handling it.
Stonecutting should always take place in a well ventilated area.
Any and all dust in the environment should be cleared as soon as possible.
Try to choose ergonomic tools that reduce the risk of injury.
The health of millworkers should be the top priority when developing moulding and millwork. Safety guidelines should be followed to the letter – not doing so is an act of hubris that can quickly spiral into disaster.
One of the ways to ensure safety of millworkers is using accurate millwork shop drawings and millwork drafting. That’s why many companies approach BluEntCAD, who has worked with most of the US’ largest homebuilders.
We serve casework companies, woodworking companies, custom furniture manufacturers, millwork manufacturers, signage manufacturers, cabinet makers, home designers, and decks & fencing manufacturers. Browse our portfolio to see how we’ve helped companies like yours.
To make your millwork project a success and maintain the safety of your staff, contact us now for millwork detailing services!
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