Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Safety Equipment: A Necessity For the Art Studio

When people talk about setting up an art studio, they discuss the mediums to be used, the tools involved and how to organize a space. But there is one very important detail that is frequently not mentioned: medical supplies.

Making art involves working with potentially dangerous tools as well as a material like glass that is nearly impossible to avoid cuts from. No matter how careful we are, accidents will happen. We merely need to place our hand in the wrong place and the next thing we know, ouch. It is those times when you will be glad you have adequate medical supplies like band aids, butterfly closures and antibiotic ointments on hand.

The reason I mention this is because I cut the end of my finger yesterday while disassembling a microwave. It happened while I was removing the transformer to use as a spot welder. At some point, apparently my finger tip passed over a razor sharp edge of metal. I didn't even realize my finger was cut until I hauled some garbage to the trash can and saw blood dripping. A few minutes later and it started to sting quite a bit so I went inside, cleaned it up and looked for a way to protect the cut. While I didn't have a bandage specifically made for a finger tip, I was able to make something from gauze and medical tape. And having ointment made me at least feel there is less of chance for an infection to set in. After all, I had been working with the cut for a while and had contaminated the area while grabbing this and that. So cleaning and protecting the area was important. Especially since i don't have health insurance to fall back onto if I do need to see a doctor for some reason.

The point being is that a good set of medical supplies is useful. But don't stop with a well supplied medical kit. Make sure you have plenty of other safety equipment on hand. Eye and hearing protection is mandatory. In fact, I keep numerous pairs of glasses and even a face shield on hand. Cutting with tools like a grinder can throw shards everywhere so the better the protective glasses, the better. In some cases, I'm considering using a pair of swim goggles as they do provide a fully sealed scenario. While they likely don't have the impact resistance of safety goggles, they can be beneficial in a highly dusty environment where grit getting into the eye is more of a concern than impact from high speed flying debris.

Let's not forget fire extinguishers. In the garage, I have at least four fire extinguishers. It's not that I'm overly fearful but I have seen more fires than I wanted to. Having an extinguisher in a place that is easy to see makes it much easier to stop an unpleasant scenario from turning into a deadly scenario.

While this wasn't exactly a topic most people would be excited to read about, I hope it does make a few people take action to stock up their studio areas with proper safety equipment. As for my finger, it will stop stinging in a couple days but for now, I will continue to wear my cheesy little bandage. Manly? Nope. But I'd rather keep the dirt out rather than wake up one morning to discover my finger is swollen to a monstrous size.