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Safety Replies Compilation #1

Hi All,

Thank you for the many replies. I am still gathering information
so please keep on writing to me off-list. (to:

This is a compilation of the replies to the safety questions.
Any replies to me after this posting will be compiled like this
and sent out to you later.

The number of replies required several emails, nothing more
would fit onto the other ones so this small posting is the first.

Here are the questions I last posted:

Have you experienced or known people with RSI (carpal tunnel,
tennis elbow etc) injuries in the jewelry trade? Have they

Do you know anyone who died/suffered late in life from a disease
that you think could be based on their jewelry making expereince?

Do you know any substitute procedures (ie ionic cleaning versus
bombing) or chemicals (ie a non-silicate based polishing compound
to replace tripoli) that would be useful for me to mention in
this paper?

If you were telling a beginner about health and safety issues in
the jewelry field and giving them advice what would be the most
important things you would tell them?

Thank you again, please keep sending me anecdotes.

best wishes


I have been making jewelry for the last 12 years and have been doing very
intensive production work for the last 8 years. About 3 years ago I started
to develop problems with my hands, wrists and left shoulder (from holding
the torch). Part of this was due to stress I am sure, but also at the time
I was smoking about 1 1/2 packs of cigarettes a day and drinking a fair
amount of coffee. I dealt with the pain in my hands for about a year. At
about that time I decided to quit smoking. I did not think that the two
things were related but when I quit smoking, I started working out and
doing alot of weight training. The physcial problems I was having
completely disappeared!!! Since then I have not had a single twinge
of work-related pain. I think that the quitting smoking and working out
helped alleviate the stress in my life and the working out strengthened my
body - the combination worked for me. Yay!!!

Hope this might help somebody else -


I have had only minor accidents so far. Once when I was in a real hurry
(huge grad show the next day), I was sawing too quickly and the blade broke
and it slammed down into my thumb, getting stuck there like a fishhook.
Luckily there was a doctor’s station in the school so I went and whined to
him. He was threatening to send me to emergency, but I was in such a rush
that I made him yank it out. Very painful. (I had almost the same
experience with a sewing machine needle once.)

You asked about repetitive strain injuries. I have had a bad wrist since I
started making jewellery. It progressively got worse as time wore on until
I was unable to bend it either way at all. Finally it was suggested to me
to try wearing my brace while making jewellery to teach my wrist proper
positioning. It was very awkward at first, but I eventually was able to
get the hang of keeping my wrist bent the proper way without the brace.
The problem I have now is that I really want to delve deeply into smithing,
but it is hell on my wrist. And I simply cannot hold a hammer with my
brace on. Sigh.

I have heard some real horror stories about electric rolling mills and
overfilled crucibles in the broken arm casting thing. However, I
constantly see accidents that should have happened, but didn’t by some odd
miracle. Such as, at my school, they had gold plating equipment stored and
used right beside the pickle pot, people’s torches being left on and then
blown out by someone walking by, people lighting their torches aiming them
into the middle of the aisle, and someone leaving their unlabelled boric
acid/alcohol solution on the melting bricks. I believe most accidents or
near accidents are due to careless rushing.

I’m glad you are conducting this study. I feel that most jewellers are
frighteningly unconcerned about health and accident hazards, and need to
constantly be reminded of the dangers. Thankyou.


There are only a few in this one, go on to #2 and #3 for most of the
replies to date.

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:

When I started making jewelry my living in 1989, I was able to
sit and piece for hours, doing intricate patterns of 100+
piecings. Over the years it has taken a major tole on my back.
I have always been very dilligent about correct posture, good
backed chair, bench pin at correct height, etc. Now I can only
pierce for 15 minutes then take a break, my shoulder numbs out.

I have also had problems with my elbows. My jeweler friend also
had this problem and increased her magnesium intake and it really