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Overly cautious about school safety?

Hello Everyone,

I’m looking for a comprehensive course in jewelry making in my area.
While looking at photos of a school that has recently opened up
nearby, I was a bit unsettled to see pictures of students wearing
their long hair loose while operating torches and flex shafts as
well as wearing rings while operating the flex shaft. Would it be in
my best interests to rule out this new school or ought I investigate

What sort of questions should I be asking the people running the
schools before I register somewhere, and what should I be looking for
during an on-site visit? Not necessarily just regarding safety
issues-- my main intent is to get solid fabrication skills in a safe,
well-equipped environment. Thank you for your input.


Hi Vivienne,

Your concerns about your new local school may be fully justified,
but the pictures may just have been set up specially for the brochure
rather than being an actual class in progress.

When I was taking chemistry at college, professional photographers
came into class one day to take pictures for the latest prospectus/
brochure. They had me don safety goggles and lab coat and sit at the
bench, randomly letting purple dyed water from a burette into a
conical flask while peering intently at it, with my friend stood
behind, studiously pressing buttons on her calculator! It was
hilarious and bore absolutely no relevance to any science
whatsoever, but the pictures looked suitably scientific! I always
look at college brochures in a different light now, with a bit of a
giggle too.

Just make sure you ask questions, or see if you can pay a visit while
a class is in progress to see whether they are up to speed or lax
with regards to health and safety. Chances are they’re fine as you
really can’t get away with low standards in that area these days -
not that you’d want to.


Hi Vivienne,

I think the title of your email says it all… You obviously
appreciate safety issues yourself and so you should have no problems
on any course - after all, no one is going to ‘make’ you wear long
hair loose or force you to wear jewellery… Maybe if you enrolled
on a course there you could question their safety policies and ask
for a review of them if they seem too lax.

Safety is a personal matter - simply protecting yourself from harm
and should be something you think about all the time - just like
crossing a road… In everything we do we should be thinking ahead,
considering what we are about to do, what the hazards and
consequences of our actions could be, deciding haw much risk we are
comfortable with taking and then making basic common sense decisions
as to whether to proceed or how to protect ourselves from the
remaining risks. When I was young, many years ago, we learnt things
like this first hand - climbing trees and falling out of them,
burning our fingers etc. I have little scars all over my hands and
arms and I’ve singed my eyebrows a number of times but I’m still here
and I seldom make the same mistake twice. Now, it seems, everyone
wants all possible hazards to be documented and legislated against
and wants someone else to protect them from their own actions - the
trouble with this is that you will stop thinking for yourself and be
unable to recognize danger when it is staring you in the face…

Best wishes,
Ian W. Wright
Sheffield UK

It’s only been with the greatest of restraint I’ve held my tongue.
The issue of safety is an important one when you’re in school. Like
the original poster, I suspect that if such unsafe practices are
allowed, what other unsafe practices are not reigned in or kept in

True, many of the issues to come up will be of personal safety, and
only one person can keep you safe in those situations…yourself.

However, I want to introduce you to my husband’s classmate. Call him
Trouble. This man was a welder at a local mill, having had plenty of
experience with torches. The first day the jewelry class were
introduced to the torches and gasses, the instructor talked most
about safety issues. The class went over lighting their torches,
using little gas at first, etc… and while the teacher (wonderful
teacher, knows much and shares it…including safety) was still
talking, everyone hears a loud “whoosh” come from their classmate’s
table. He’d nearly scorched off the hair of his fellow student,
though his own eyebrowns and facial hair was all that was singed…it
did grow back swiftly. And the ‘nearly’ was closer than anyone really
liked. This classmate is a wonderful and sweet person, helpful and
willing to assist any of his fellow students with anything. The
trouble is, he is trouble. He caused any number of class accidents
(most couldn’t be forseen, believe it or not), and this was in a
class that was probably kept safe because they were drilled in

That said, you really only know if the classrooms and instructors
are safety-minded by talking with them. Observe the classes as they
are happening…question safety issues, how much time is spent
discussing safety, etc.

And if you hear “whoosh” from behind you, jump quickly from your
chair and don’t stop moving til you’re out of the room. :slight_smile:


Kim Paluch