H for Head protection

You may initially ask the question Why do I need head protection when my head is comprised of a hard, bony structure called my skull?  However, when you consider that organs associated with seeing, hearing, breathing, eating, thinking and bodily control are all contained within the head then the benefit of protecting these items becomes clear.

Over the years we have probably all seen some of the horrific pictures showing where a woodturner has been hit in the face by a piece of wood.  The particular injuries that result from the disintegration of rotating pieces of wood reflect the significant level of energy contained in revolving objects.

Probably the most important part of the head to protect is the eyes as relatively low energy impacts can cause serious damage to these fragile body parts. Impact resistant spectacles are a minimum requirement although a full face visor offers more protection to the facial area. An appropriate helmet should provide the next level of protection.

Whilst woodturning is not generally the noisiest area of woodworking there are occasions when noise levels can cause hearing damage. Using a chainsaw, circular saw or planer to prepare woodturning blanks can expose us to higher noise levels. Use of hearing protection, whether foam ear inserts or ear muffs, will reduce the risk of hearing damage.

The high dust burdens experienced in many workshops, particularly when using abrasives, mean that some degree of air filtration is not only desirable but essential.   

The mouth and teeth are particularly vulnerable to impact by moving objects. Whilst a full face visor offers some protection to this part of the face, a helmet should provide an enhanced level of facial protection.

Even though the brain is protected by the skull, the impact of moving objects on the head can cause unconsciousness or concussion.  A recent report featured a woodturner who was knocked out for 5 minutes after being hit by a piece of wood from the blank he was turning.

Individual pieces of safety equipment such as safety spectacles, full face visors or dust masks can offer some degree of protection, however, modern, integrated helmets can offer more than basic head protection as they also provide breathing and eye protection as well.

LEARNING POINT - The cost of a modern helmet is small compared to the cost of a serious head injury.                                                    

Trevor Branton