Woodworker’s Safety Week – Hearing and lung protection

There’s this old woodworking joke.

An old woodworker goes to his doctor and tells the M.D. that he’s worried about his wife’s hearing.

“I’ll tell you what,” says the doc, “Go home and give her this test…”

Ear protection choicesLater that day, the woodworker stands 40 feet behind his wife and asks, “Honey, what’s for dinner?” No answer. Worried, he moves to 30 feet and asks, “Honey, what’s for dinner?” Still no answer. He moves to 20 feet, then ten, then, finally, he’s right behind her and asks, “Honey, what’s for dinner.”

“For the fifth time,” she says, exasperated, “it’s chicken!”

While it may seem funny, hearing loss is no laughing matter. Repetitive exposure to loud noise results in cumulative damage to the sensitive hearing receptors deep in the ears. Routers, circular saws, thickness planers, brad nailers and dozens of other power tools can cause damage in a very short amount of time.

How long? The Centers for Disease Control have a page on hearing protection that shows exposure to very loud sounds can do damage in less than one minute.

The solution? Well, hearing protection in the form of muffs or plugs is an excellent suggestion. Be sure to wear them every time – again, some loud noises can do damage in a very short time.

Dust respiratorEars are not the only vulnerable opening on your body. Sawdust and chemical vapors from finishes and other noxious chemicals can also wreak havoc on your lungs. Sawdust has been shown to cause irritation , allergic reactions and certain types of cancer.

Working in a well-ventilated area is a great idea, but, when the dust and other chemical vapors get thick in the air, it’s a good idea to reach for a respirator, rely on good dust collection and force air circulation to remove dust and chemical from the air.

By keeping your ears and lungs healthy, the next time you tell a joke, you’ll be able to hear your audience’s laughter and laugh along with them.

One thought on “Woodworker’s Safety Week – Hearing and lung protection”

  1. I have to admit I’ve never been big on safety items like respirators and hearing protection. That being said, I now suffer from tinnitus, constant ringing (or screeching) in the ears for which there is no cure. The doctor told me it is likely nerve damage from loud noises and if I don’t start using hearing protection it will only get worse. I expected hearing loss, but not this. Message: heed the advice, don’t be a dummy like I was.

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