Safety Procedures For Operating A Wide Belt Sander
Belt sanders are perfect tools for evenly sanding large pieces of wood quickly and precisely. While extremely useful to woodworkers, if used in an incorrect way they can be very dangerous. Avoid safety hazards and minimize the possibility of injury by following these guidelines when operating your wide belt sander.
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No untrained person should operate a wide belt sander
This seems obvious but cannot be stressed enough. Wide belt sanders are serious pieces of equipment capable of injuring a person when used improperly. Keep people without the proper training and experience away from the wide belt sander. Those currently receiving training should be supervised while operating the machine.
Check the wide belt sander’s safety features
Always make sure that all of the safety features of your wide belt sander are in place and functioning properly. Never disable or remove a one of these safeguards. It’s better to double-check than to forget one! Safety mechanisms vary for different models and manufacturers of wide belt sanders. Please consult the instruction manual that came with your machine, or contact your supplier for the exact specifications.
A common example of a safety mechanism to check is the protective bar or plate at the front of the wide belt sander. Make sure this is firmly locked in place and has not been loosened by the machine’s vibrations. Also confirm that the dust extractor is working properly before powering on the machine.
Avoid loose clothing when operating a wide belt sander
Avoid wearing loose or baggy clothes while using the wide belt sander. Doing this could lead to dangerous situations. For example, a shirt that is too big or has loose sleeves could become tangled in the mechanism that feeds the wood into the sander. This would be extremely dangerous and result in serious injuries, even lost limbs. Jewelry should also be taken off before starting the machine as they could slip off and fall into the mechanism or get caught between some moving parts.
Wear the appropriate safety equipment to protect yourself
When operating a wide belt sander it is important to always protect your eyes, ears and mouth. There is simple safety equipment that will help you and should be standard issue in any woodworking shop!
A pair of safety goggles protects your eyes from dust and pieces of wood flying around and should never be taken off while using the sander. Hearing protection is also recommended because the loudness of the machine is damaging to the ears. Ear plugs made from foam or silicone and over-the-ear hearing protection are options to decrease the decibel level of the sounds that reaches your eardrums.
Another must is to wear a certified dust mask (such as OSHA-approved). This will help to protect your lungs from the dust created by the sanding process. These dust particles will lead to respiratory problems when inhaled, so a dust mask is necessary at all times. Finally, when handling the wood you should consider wearing some safety gloves to protect your hands from splinters, cuts and the like.
In summary, one should always wear:
- safety goggles
- hearing protection
- dust mask
Following these procedures will help to minimize the possibility of injury when operating your wide belt sander.