Electrical Workbench Safety Tips
The first thing to consider when looking at creating a safe space to use your electrical workbench is your workspace. You’ll want to choose an area where you’ve got enough space to move freely and aren’t constricted in any way – if your freedom of movement is constricted this can lead to stresses and strains on your body over time. Equally you’ll want to make sure your space is well lit and not overly dark, so you’ve got full sight of everything you’re using at any time, which should help you avoid spills and knocks. Finally it can be vital to make sure that your space is well ventilated, especially if you’re using your bench for soldering or making PCBs as the chemicals involved with both can be dangerous.
When you’re working with electronics, you often need all kinds of different tools and components, some of which can be very small. If you want to work safely then you need to also work efficiently, with a planned, well organized workspace where everything can be found as soon as it’s needed. Pegboard, which is a type of board fitted with an array of holes, can be fitted with hooks and metal pins that can be used to support a wide variety of different items, such as voltage testers and wire-cutters. It’s even possible to use this material to support rolls of different wires with u-shaped pegs that use two of the holes on the grid. By keeping everything in its place you’ll avoid getting flustered or frustrated whilst working, allowing you to progress through any job in a calm and collected manner. Most accidents happen when people are in a rush or aren’t thinking straight – so make life easier for yourself and reduce your chances of getting hurt.
Most people who work with any kind of electronics use a soldering iron. These can be extremely dangerous when fully heated, causing burns if they come into contact with naked skin and can even ignite items of clothing. When you’ve got you soldering iron on the desk it’s very important to make sure that you’re aware of where the cord is located. If you’re sitting on a chair, especially one with open arms, make sure that no part of your soldering iron’s lead becomes tangled with the chair as this can pull the tool onto your body or legs. There is no reason why you can’t make sure that your soldering iron is fixed to the desk and the power cord is firmly pegged back behind your desk to make sure that this cable never becomes tangled. Equally you can make sure that a hot iron always stays in one place by constructing a thick circular metal holder that you can keep on your desk.
Spills and Leaks
In some electrical work you’ll also use various chemicals – from cleaning products through to stronger stuff that’s vital for the manufacture of different PCBs. When dealing with any kind of liquid you should always make sure that you understand the risks involved. Before embarking on any work make sure that you take the right kind of precautions. If you’re dealing with corrosive materials then it won’t be enough just to wipe away any spills, you’ll need to keep some kind of neutralizing agents close by. Equally any kind of lubricating fluid that’s used to keep electric motor parts running smoothly can be slippery if it drips onto a linoleum floor, so you may want to keep a handy roll of paper cloth to hand in order to quickly deal with any that gets on the floor.
You can save yourself a lot of trouble by choosing the right power supply for your workbench. There are a number of different models available ranging from those that simply function as a bar plug type extension for your existing sockets, to those that offer a little bit more. Ideally you’ll want to get your hands on one that has a power switch that controls the flow of electricity to the array of sockets on the extension, allowing you to make sure that you’ve powered down all your tools at the end of any working session. It is also possible to purchase these extensions with surge protectors and circuit breakers that offer even more safety when performing electrical work – this is one are where it pays to get the best on the market, as you really appreciate going for the best option in a worst case scenario.
If you’re working with PCBs then it’s vital that you wear some kind of ventilation mask on your face as the particles created by drilling into this material should not be inhaled. The fumes from solder are suspected to lead to asthma and other respiratory complaints if they are breathed in continuously over a long period of time and printer toner is notoriously toxic. Equally you should take care to wear eye goggles whenever you’re working with any substance that could crack and send out splinters. If you’re dealing with sharp objects wear gloves. The importance of wearing the right kind of safety equipment cannot be overestimated. It’s very easy to change a pair of broken safety goggles – but once your sight is damaged this can often be a permanent disability.
The Right Attitude
Finally, one of the most important things to remember when looking at your electrical workbench safety is your own attitude. By approaching your work in the right manner – remaining calm and organized at all times and thinking about jobs before you just embark on them, you can make sure that you’re as safe as possible at all times. Consider all aspects of your work and how they might affect you in a worst case scenario and try to build in some contingency plans to deal with them. It’s this sort of forethought that you’ll be most thankful for in a real emergency.