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Accident rate

Hi all, as you know I’m working on a safety report. I would like
to make a quick survey of our on-line community. I want to get a
sense of the most common accidents that people have seen or
experienced int he jewelry workshop.To keep the list clear please
email me directly (off-list) and then I will report back to the
Orchid group later. Any incorporatedin the report
will be credited to you and an acknoweledgemnet in the book will
be made. In advance to responders, Thank you for your time.


What accidents have you had or seen in the studio?

Have you had or seen any bad experiences using chemicals in the

Have you had or seen any chronic illnesses caused by working in
a jewlery studio? (anything from silicosis to skin conditions)

What would you like a safety report for the jewlery workshop to
deal with?

Any preferences for how you would want presented?

Brain Press
Box 1624, Ste M, Calgary, Alberta, T2P 2L7, Canada
Tel: 403-263-3955 Fax: 403-283-9053 Email: @Charles_Lewton-Brain

Metals info download web site:
Product descriptions:


You are always up to something interesting — Keep at it!!

I do only a little benchwork and haven’t had an accident to
speak of yet. I do have a friend who does a lot of commercial
casting and bench work. Last year he put a kraus burr through a
finger while working on a ring and this year, in the holiday rush
he slipped while stonesetting and gouged the back of his hand
with a graver — a painful, but mostly minor cut — not like
putting a burr through your hand. Hope this is the kind of info
you are looking for.

Roy (Jess)

Female/Flex shafts/long hair. I have seen it happen twice.

Charles - I’ve only been working in metal for about 3 years so I
haven’t had all the experiences that others may have. I have, on
several ocasions, slipped with the saw and cut into my finger -
gets a lot of blood on my silver! I’ve actually picked up a
piece of hot metal before I quenched - dum. Liver of sulfer gives
me headaches, but no serious damage. That’s my 2 cents worth.
Good luck - Gini

EEEEEK I’'ve never seen the flex shaft\long hair accident but I
have heard stories.

Personally, I saw into my finger at least a couple of times a
year. Not too long ago I extracted about a quarter inch of saw
blade that had been in there for at least a year. ( I know, it
grossed me out, too)


I can second the long hair/ flex shaft accident. It happened to
me when I used to work as a model maker. Lost some of the hair
right to the scalp. The only other accident I’ve seen (besides
the nicks and cut here and there on my fingers) is a small fire
caused by a soldering iron with a bad cord and some steel wool.
It was put out right away and no harm done.


What accidents have you had or seen in the studio?

While I did not see the accident itself, about 20 years ago I
met a woman who had crushed her hand by attempting to make a mold
of it in plaster of paris in a can. As the plaster set, it

I did once stop a 1/3 hp motor when it caught my hair… And saw
that same accident about 15 years ago at a store I was working

I made a tapered round bezel for a 2ct diamond several years
ago, and attempted to drill the base of it while holding it
between the thumb and first two fingers of my left hand. The
bezel spun and sliced the tips of three digits.

I try to stress workshop safety to the students I mentor.

Rick Hamilton
Richard D. Hamilton
Martha’s Vineyard
Fabricated 14k, 18k, and platinum Jewelry
wax carving, modelmaking, jewelry photography


I’ve burned myself on unquenched stuff too, ditto for the saw
mishaps too!

If this is for OSHA Hazard Comunication purposes, off the top
of my head, I’d have to mention in addition to the two above:
fumes from soldering, use of acids and other chemicals, hot acids
in the pickle pot, paints, dangers from lit torches, proper
torch tank changing procedures, spinning wheels on flex and
polish wheels, possibility of parts flying from the spinning
wheels on the flex shaft and polish wheel (and need for eye
protection), slipped engraving tools, tangs from files, and the
potential for slivers of metal jabbing you.



Joy, make that three times. I have waist length hair, I used to
work with it tied back in a ponytail. Caught it anyway. Broke
the shaft, had to cut out a bit of hair. I wear it up now. Lisa

Just an interesting tidbit–if you should go brain dead, like we
all do, and pick up a red hot piece of gold with your fingers, I
have found that if you keep your burned area in cold water for as
long as it takes-you won’t even get a blister. The key is as
long as it takes. If the area still tingles put it back in the
water. It really works.

Aside from one saw cut (by someone who wasn’t supposed to be
handling the saws at all) and the assorted prick from a bit of
sharp wire, no calamities here.

The nastiest accident I’ve had is with hydrofluoric acid. I had
an enameled piece in a closed plastic container w/conc HF, and
when I pulled it out (carefully I thought) I got a drop on my
skin. I rinsed it off immediately but it left a nasty, painful
burn - much worse than any other acid. I don’t use HF unless I
have to, and always in a well-ventilated area, and I try to be
careful, so this was the first accident I had with it, but was it
ever nasty! Elizabeth

P.S. Someone told me that William Harper spoke at a SNAG
conference a little while ago and said that he had to give up
enameling because it wrecked his eyes. Does anyone know anything
about this?

Elizabeth C. Wilkinson
Los Alamos, NM

e-mail: @wilkinso

we all get burns in the shop either from metal too hot or a
mis-aimed torch flame that just crosses our path to remind us ,
we are playing with fire. I keep an aloe vera plant on the
window sill for just such close encounters of the "hottest"
kind. Frank

I once saw a guy holding a chain in his fingers while polishing
it on the buffer. The buff caught the chain, and popped him in
the eye. Terrible site! He had to wear an eye patch for a month
or so. Luckily, his vision is O.K… I also heard a story of a man
who had a Bic lighter on his bench. …While using his torch, he
passed the flame too close to it and the lighter exploded. Don’t
know the extent of injuries. Those torch mate lighters are
wonderful! Ken

OUCH! This student had fairly short hair was bent over and
caught her BANGS in the shaft. Kinda did a unicorn thing on the
front of her head. Lucky for her she took her foot off the
pedal. It did a permenant spiral that had to be cut off. I
think even short hair can be at risk.

I have also sawed fingers, fingernails etc. Nice clean cut but
much blood. Alchol fires also scare me. I mix alchol and borax
for a fire scale prevent and have got my brush caught on fire
when applying a second coat when the first had not went out.
That really scares me! Joy Reside Jewelry

Hello all…

In reply to “enamelling wrecking the eyes”, I believe the
reference was to the practice of staring into an open kiln at a
work-in-progress to monitor stages of melt during the enamelling
process, without using suitable eye protection, ie. welders’
goggles with at least a #5 lens.

Manufacturing processes such as casting, flame welding &
cutting, most fabrication, and enamelling, involve exposure of
the artisan to intense and prolonged sources of infra red
radiation, or heat. The materials that are used to construct a
kiln, and related handling/production equipment, are mostly heat
resistant. This promotes both the longevity and the production
consistency of the equipment, which means low
operating/maintenance costs for the manufacturer.

The materials that the artisan is composed of are not so heat
resistant, thus we wear aprons, heavy boots & gloves, etc.
While it may be relatively easy to recover from burns on hands,
feet, and such, recovery from optical damage is often difficult.
The use of dark-filter goggles by the artisan in close proximity
to any intense IR source, is strongly recommended, if not
required by industry. Adequate eye protection is the one area
in which purchase of only top-of-line equipment is mandatory;
inferior items (camera film, etc.) are not worth the risk.

I wish to offer the following to illustrate my point:

In a small town a few miles downstream from me, lives a
glassblower & family. They have a glass art factory, and he
does most of the work, in front of one of three kilns (set around
3000 F, 24 hrs./day). He loves his work, spending long hours at
perfecting his melt, building his reputation for fine work. But
ten steps away from the hearth, and he has trouble counting the
fingers on his hand. His desklamp might as well be a
searchlight. What is a sunny day to us, is a dim & hazy image
to him. Etc. All because he works in front of the kiln all
day, working without any eye protection; an approximate area of
40 X 60 degrees, right in the middle of his eyesight, is lowered
by 90%, which is to say the exact shape of the kilnmouth, 5 feet
away…and all he has left is peripheral vision. And to think
it only took ten years.

So, what price to fame?

Daniel P. Buchanan

Cold water is good for burns but there are now moist gel
bandaids and patches that are more convient and if they are left
on for 24 hrs really work.

Marilyn Smith

  I''ve never seen the flex shaft\long hair accident but I have
heard stories. 

I’ve know of people who turn fabric or cotton into pulp (making
paper for casting) to catch their hair in the machine that looks
like a large blender. I’ve never experienced any accidents, other
than a mild burn because I was silly enough to try to pick up
something hot. I have cut myself on my saw blades, but nothing
serious, yet!

I believe William Harper has a detached retina due to a virus,
and not because of working with enamels. As far as I know, his
other eye is OK, but he doesn’t know for how long. –