Blacksmithing is one industry that is most prone to hazards. Majority of blacksmiths more especially the older ones are marked by scars and burns that are gotten from blacksmithing.
The blacksmith wears good shoes, protective clothing and other protective gears to guard them against cuts and burns. But even these clothing and protective gears cannot prevent some hazards at some point. Below we are going to discuss some of the basic hazards associated with blacksmithing.
1. Toxic gas poisoning
When you are in your workshop doing your blacksmithing work, there are toxic gas produced. This gas is mostly produced when welding a metal. Nitrogen, Argon, Hydrogen fluoride, Carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide gas are mostly produced.
These gases can cause serious problems to the health of the smith if inhaled. Any short term exposure to these fumes may result in dizziness, nausea, nose, eye and throat irritation.
Prolonged exposure to these fumes may also lead to cancer of larynx, lung and urinary tract. Also, the kidney and nervous system may be damaged. Some of them can displace oxygen hence causing suffocation.
• Majority of products used are toxic and others carcinogenic and composite. It is important to wear the respirator when using these products
• As a professional blacksmith, you should understand all the hazards associated with blacksmithing and know how to control them
• Avoid welding in a confined space that lack ventilation
• Always clean your workshop and welding surfaces regularly before you start your day job. This helps in removing coatings that may result in toxic exposure levels
• Use the local exhaust ventilation for indoor welding
2. A risk to sight and hearing
Your sight and hearing may eventually get destroyed if you are not careful. The most immediate threat is the eyes. Some of the machine powered equipment may bring a new dimension of danger.
Burnt wire brushes can throw tiny shards to the skin and eyes. The roar of a gas forge and a constant while of the whirling cutters and grinders erodes the hearing. Some of the smiths are actually left with the tinnitus which is the sensation of ringing in ears.
The eyes of the blacksmith are exposed to metals that may damage the eyes if they are not handled with care. The high levels of noise exposure may also cause permanent loss of hearing. It is therefore important to take preventive measures.
• Ensure to put protective gears such as goggles
• Sometimes eye protection varies in every occupation, identify your occupation and take the necessary safety protective gears
• Protect your eyes from welding, splashes, dust using safety goggles
• Face shields also can be worn using standard eyewear
• Put on the pair of earplugs
3. Fires and burns
All of us know that fires and coals are hot and dangerous. So it is important to take precautions against all these. One thing you should know is that steel or even any other metals may not glow red but it may be dangerously hot.
So you be careful all the time you are handling metals in the workshop. Fires can actually happen at any time.
• Make sure that you have a fire extinguisher near at hand.
• You can also have cold clean water around for submersion. This will help you in case your clothes or you catch fire.
• Know five regulations of the locality and call the fire department for any advice.
• Identify all fire hazards in the workshop. Ensure you avoid all the flammable products and materials in the workshop.
• Have the fire safety and response plan. Always practice all these fire safety and responses
• Have fire extinguishers and smoke detectors. You can put an extinguisher next to the exit door so that you will be in a good position to get it quickly during fire emergencies.
• It is important to use only non-combustible products and materials.
• Wear clothes that resist fire such wool and cotton. You can also keep the hair tied up.
• On a regular basis ensure that you check the conditions of the electrical system.
This is the most common problem experienced by blacksmiths. They have it either in the tendinitis at the hammer arm elbow or at the shoulder.
A blacksmith sometimes spends most of his time in hammering steel and iron on an anvil. This is not easy since many times the anvil may not have a better rebound whereby they end up doing double work. This causes strain to the joints and elbows.
When hammering sometimes he may miss to hit the target and end up hitting himself hence injuring himself.
• To prevent joint injuries, it’s advisable not to smith while you are dehydrated, drunk, high or even fatigued. Ensure that you are in good conditions, not too tired, and have enough rest and maximum attention.
• For better result, you can use the hammer properly and ensure that its handle is shaped to fit tightly to your hand.
• Use the right hammering techniques in order to avoid all these problems.
• The anvil should also be at such a height in that when you are standing in the normal position with the arms slightly bent and the knuckles in line with the top of the anvil.
• Make sure that the handle of the hammer is in the rectangular shape so that you can easily grip and control it with little pressure.
• When gripping the hammer, never grip it using the thumb on top, but instead held it in the v of your hand.
When you are working with coal and molten metals, it is advisable to use a particulate respirator. It helps you prevent yourself from harmful injuries which may be dangerous to your health.
As you use the respirator be careful. This is because it may cause breathing issues such as asthma or other heart conditions.
Good pair of safety glasses
Protecting your eyes properly when blacksmithing is one of the most important things. This will help you avoid sight injuries. A good pair of safety glasses will help you.
Get the safety glasses that have polycarbonate lenses which normally offer UV protection. They help prevent harmful light radiation from reaching the eyes when blacksmithing.
Wearing clothes made of natural fiber such as cotton is the best. Wear clothes made of thick materials depending on the weather conditions. Flannel jacket mostly works well when it is too hot. Try and avoid loose clothing. This is because they might be tangled and catch anything.
Get the earmuffs to help cancel the noise. They may feel weird but this is the better option to help you avoid the damage of ears. Putting on earplugs that have a radio built in is a safe way to keep the ears warm during winter.
Footwear and Gloves
Also, you need to protect your feet. From red hot falling metals which might injure you. Leather boots work best. Ensure that these leather shoes also have a metatarsal guard. Gloves are also other safety equipment that you will not miss to have.
It is recommended that a basic level, a blacksmith should have at least a five-gallon bucket of water and actual fire extinguishers. There are many types of fire extinguishers which include water, CO2, dry powder, foam and wet chemical. You need different fire extinguishers to put out all fires in the workshop
Finally, from our discussion, we have seen that as you work on your blacksmithing shop, there are certain hazards that may occur. It is therefore important to know them and understand the preventive measures that you can take to control them.