Our Health Hazard section identifies jewelry making materials and procedures that may pose health risks. Read these articles and stay safe.
You start to turn and there it is again. You go to stand up from your chair and it happens again. It’s that nagging pain in your neck or lower back. After several years on the bench, jewelers often develop chronic neck or back injuries.
There are a number of basic principles in storing chemicals. Know what your chemicals are, what their hazards are, their.
Have a fire plan; ask your fire department for advice. Keep the appropriate extinguishers around and in good shape. Get ABC all-purpose extinguishers. Get the manufacturers manual and read all the instructions carefully at least three times. Review your fire safety now and then. Make sure you know how to use an extinguisher properly, sweeping back and forth at the base of the fire from 6-10 feet away. Realize that your extinguisher will only work for 15-20 seconds, so have more than one around. Mount them near exits. Dry chemical extinguishers of the stored pressure kind need to be.
Aim for: a well laid-out, orderly workshop, well-lit by multiple non glare light sources, well-maintained equipment, electrically and fire safe, with low dust and few procedures involving solvents, with excellent local ventilation at the appropriate work stations (such as investing or melting areas), the use of work clothing, which is cleaned frequently, lots of personal safety equipment.
Take a look around you. Chances are there is a flex-shaft or a dust collector you’ve neglected because you’ve been too busy making jewelry. As you put your heart and soul into your work, don’t forget to take a little time to give some TLC to your bench tools and equipment. Follow this simple maintenance schedule suggested by the bench gurus at Stuller Inc. to keep your favorite tools shipshape..
Carpal tunnel syndrome is only one of many kinds of repetitive strain injuries (RSIs) and cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs). RSI, CTD and ‘overuse syndrome’ are reasonably interchangeable in meaning. Carpal tunnel syndrome is, however, the most.
If you know what the chemicals are that you use and what their dangers are you will be less likely to hurt yourself with them. In your “Right to Know” binder your should have a list of the chemicals in your workshop (a chemical inventory), MSDS sheets and chemical profile sheets which tell you important information about the chemical. A chemical profile sheet is theoretically easier to read than a standard MSDS sheet. There are several places on the internet where chemical profiles are available.
Granulation, a technique used in jewelry and metalwork, is the decorative use of minute metal granules attached to the surface of the same metal, or, in some cases, attached to each other. In attaching the granules to a surface or…
Dermatitis is a group of skin conditions that may often be contracted by exposure to chemicals and metals. These may include scaling, splitting, eczema and so on. Dermatitis is a real hazard for jewelers. Metal workers suffer high rates of skin disorders.
Dust is small particles of a material. There are dusts you can see in the air; these can be breathed in, and because the particles are fairly large, they end up in the upper portions of the lungs. Some can be cleared from the body by its natural mucus where it is bound up, and brought up into the esophagus. From there it is swallowed and so exposes the stomach tissue to whatever chemical was ingested. Jewelry polishers may have elevated rates of stomach cancer as a result of this. With dust in the air, however, it is the smaller, invisible particles that are the most dangerous, and these stay in your lungs.
The “General Safety Rules for Tools” article applies here too, as with all power tools. Read the instruction manuals and directions most carefully. Plating and stripping solutions usually contain cyanides, bases or acids which, if mixed together, are used improperly or carelessly or come in contact with a cyanide plating solution can release hydrogen cyanide gas, which was used by the Nazis in the gas chambers and is still used in gas executions in the United States.
Enameling involves the firing and melting of suitable glasses onto and into metals for decorative effects. It is done at fairly high temperatures, from 1200F (649C) to a high kiln temperature of 1700F (927C) or so.The primary dangers involve dusts, the particle size of the enamel used, the chemical constituents of the enamel (older enamels frequently contain lead and other toxic metal oxides and chemicals), the infrared radiation of the kiln and sundry opportunities to burn oneself. Enamelists in factories have even been killed by scalds from water when molten enamel was dumped into it.
You pride yourself on your pristine shop. Your equipment is laid out for maximum efficiency, your tools are stored in a logical, user-friendly manner, and you can monitor workflow effectively because you are so organized. But when was the…
Finger Pro is the ultimate finger protection from cuts burns and abrasions. It is thin and tough and allows the user to handle small articles much better than conventional cots or gloves. This unique tape sticks only to itself and…
Jewelers work with compressed gases of all kinds, in torch systems, kilns, casting machines, abrasive blasters, laser welding machines needing argon and more. Many of these gases are flammable and an explosion hazard, acetylene, propane and hydrogen are examples. Oxygen is often used with these gases. Oxygen is a potent fire risk if it comes in contact with oils, greases or flammable materials, even fingerprint grease left in a fitting has caused a fire before.
Gloves are used to prevent skin contact with a hazard, whether physical (like a razor edge on a piece of metal), or chemical (such as an alkaline solution like you get when mixing casting investment). Use the correct type of gloves for the chemical you are using. Not all gloves hold up to the same things so consult a chart to see which ones are suitable to which chemicals.
This article briefly reviews issues of studio safety and discusses ways of recognizing risks in the studio and reducing hazard by substitution of materials or processes. Hygiene: In the Workshop and Personal Hygiene, Safety with Equipment Machinery, Metalworking Machinery, Studio Illumination, Protective Devices, Ventilation, Skin Protection and Protective Clothing are some of the topics covered.
This is the second in a two-part series on green bench tips shared by jewelers who are taking another approach for their shops, eco friendly shops. A Clean Break with Chemicals Jennifer Dawes, Dawes Design, Santa Rosa, California Tired of…
Besides the safety instructions that you get from a tool manufacturer in the tool manual it may be necessary for you to write your own sets of rules up to keep you out of trouble. This is especially important with employees. What follows is an example of thinking about what can go wrong with a tool. The tool used as an example is a mounted grinder. You can do the same sort of rule compilation with all the tools in your shop. See the “General Safety Rules for Tools” article as a starting point, then each tool will have certain idiosyncrasies which need to be noted. Think of it as “What advice would I give to someone to keep them out ot trouble on this machine?”.
Goldsmiths and silversmiths use hammers frequently in their work, silversmiths especially. A regular trade goldsmith might use a bench hammer with a ring on a mandrel twenty or more times a day. Blacksmithing operations use coal fires, gas torches and kilns..
In the course of my 30 years in the jewelry industry, I can recall many instances of damaged equipment and potentially dangerous situations caused by how the handpiece is connected to the flexshaft. Here are a few observations that can make your equipment last longer and prevent possible injury.
The flexible shaft machine, commonly called a “flexshaft,” is a combination of a motor, handpiece and the flexible shaft that connects the two. The machine is usually operated by a foot pedal. Because jewelers often use more than one handpiece during the workday, the procedure of connecting a handpiece to the flexible shaft is a common operation, but is often done incorrectly.
Goldsmiths began to use hydraulic presses in small shops in the 1940s in North America. Factories have used hydraulic presses for making blanking out parts and forming pieces for some time, and presses in the 150 to 200 ton range are not unusual in jewelry factories today. These need good machine guarding, maintenance and training for the operators. The smaller shop at the end of the 20th century tends to use slowly operated hydraulic presses in the 12 to 25 ton range for forming operations and some minor blanking, this last often carried out using R.T. or pancake cutting dies. It is the smaller presses I will discuss here…
Here’s something to aim for: a well laid-out, orderly workshop, well-lit by multiple non glare light sources, well-maintained equipment, electrically and fire safe, with low dust and few procedures involving solvents, with excellent local ventilation at the appropriate work.
This paper describes a process that eliminated fire scale during a vacuum casting cycle. Castings should not have a fire scale problem if the casting are cooled following this procedure.This casting was cooled using this process. This is what it looks like after quenching and brushing with a brass brush.
When you work with materials as valuable as precious metals and gemstones, you need to take measures to keep them safe — which could mean anything from Rover the attentive watchdog to installing a security protocol that would be suitable for the likes of Fort Knox.
In recent years, however, jewelers have benefited from technological advances that have resulted in new or improved methods of ensuring shop security. What follows are three of those methods. All reduce the risk of theft, and some even offer additional benefits in such areas as sales, training, and overall inventory management.
Ventilation means removing noxious materials, dusts and fumes from where you can breathe them in. It is about taking away the chance for you to breathe in chemicals and particles that can damage your lungs. Ever seen people riding around with an oxygen tank next to them and tubes in their noses? That is only one of the kinds of trouble you can get into from breathing in toxic stuff. A good friend of mine died recently from pulmonary fibrosis, definitely due to his exposures to coal dust and chemical fumes in working his materials.
This talk briefly reviews issues of studio safety and discusses ways of recognizing risks in the studio and reducing hazard by substitution of materials or processes. The premise is that any reduction in risk improves the safety conditions of the goldsmith and artist. This approach to safety is practiced officially in European countries but is fairly new to North America. This paper today can only touch on things, be a skim, a snapshot. It is in fact a work in progress. The subject is a gigantic one, it feels rather like climbing a mountain where when you crest what appears to be the top of the rise there is yet another peak in front of one. This paper therefore skips and minimizes many important details. The book we are working on will address things in more depth.
Goldsmiths sometimes do a little rough and ready lapidary work with emery and leather sticks or even polishing compounds on a hard buff. Some goldsmiths, however, are lapidaries as well as jewelers. Lapidary work involves the grinding of gem materials on a series of grinding wheels and belt sanders, usually wet, with water cycling in the system. Polishing compounds and pastes are made of various chemicals and abrasives.
Four areas in the jeweler’s workshop produce harmful substances that MUST be properly removed from the shop in order to maintain the jewelers’ health. The toxic particles produced are generally chronic in nature. This means that immediate reaction is not apparent, but twenty or thirty years of continued exposure can lead to poor health and sometimes early death.
Goldsmiths work with metals. Our bodies react to metals, their dusts, salts and oxides. The metals that jewelers come in contact with include gold, copper, silver, zinc, iron, steel, platinum, palladium, rhodium, iridium, titanium, niobium, aluminum and ones that we should consider not having around any more at all in the workshop: nickel, lead, mercury, chromium, selenium, cadmium, arsenic, antimony.
This article page is from a segment of the Metalsmith Magazine (1983 Fall), “Health Hazards”, discussing questions from readers and answers provided by Linda Weiss-Edwards herself. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Dear Linda, I wanted to write to ask if you knew where I…
This article page is from a segment of the Metalsmith Magazine (1983 Summer), “Health Hazards”, discussing questions from readers and answers provided by Linda herself. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Dear Linda, You are doing a great service by persevering the study of health…
This article page is from a segment of the Metalsmith Magazine (1984 Spring), “Health Hazards”, discussing questions from readers about using sumac and the effects of gas ozone. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Dear Linda, I frequently enhance my metal objects with wood. I am…
This article page is from a segment of the Metalsmith Magazine (1984 Summer), “Health Hazards”, discussing questions from readers about book on metalworking safety. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Dear Linda, Can you recommend any additional good reference books to add to my studio library that would…
This article page is from a segment of the Metalsmith Magazine (1985 Summer), “Health Hazards”, discussing questions from readers and answers provided by Linda Weiss-Edwards herself. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Dear Linda, In the fall issue of Metalsmith you mentioned Grifflux #1. Is…
This article page is from a segment of the Metalsmith Magazine (1986 Winter), “Health Hazards”, discussing questions from readers and answers provided by Linda Weiss-Edwards herself. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Dear Linda, Here is a copy of a paper on hydrofluoric acid, researched…
Very little research has been done on the medical problems of artists as a direct result of occupational health hazards. Most research has been done for industrial-type situations. In many cases, industrial workers have greater volume of exposure but, in industry, there are better facilities to deal with these problems. Thus, most metalsmiths are frequently working under much more hazardous conditions than commonly found in industry. Their lack of concern is frequently due to lack of knowledge about health hazards and Safety precautions.
Noise is so common that we don’t tend to think of it in terms of exposure in the same way that we would, for example, with a chemical such as benzene. Yet the treatment of hearing damage is considered to be one of the growth industries as we.
Jewelers use so-called -oxidising- solutions to darken metals like silver, copper, brass, nickel silver, bronze and, with specialized mixtures, on gold. Metalsmiths patinate both large and small objects, as well as jewelry. We usually think of patinas as being green, but they come in many colors. There are also metal dyes which are very adhesive. Paints, epoxy resins and other materials are also used to darken recesses on work. Metal coloring solutions are often made up of chemicals in toxic concentrations, so all chemical-lab precautions need to be taken with them.
The following article explains photo techniques used to transfer images onto refractory metals. These findings were developed during my graduate studies at California State University, Long Beach, California. Traditionally photo resists have been used as a masking agent in the…
My finishing techniques are up close and personal. The majority of my polishing work is done at the same proximity to the work piece as fabrication or stone setting. For me, the majority of my finishing is a bench technique….
In every aspect of my daily life I am, and have been for quite some time, concerned with promoting and maintaining my health. This concern naturally carries over into my working environment. The following article lists potentially harmful substances encountered by the metalsmith – Dictionary of Substances.
Offer better tactile sensitivity comfort dexterity and puncture resistant than rubber or vinyl. These powder-free gloves are made stronger through a process called fusion bonding which integrates synthetic polymers into the material to create a multi-layer glove or enhanced protection….
Do not get caught in the dark – make certain your shop is well lit. In the jewelry shop, two types of lighting are used. 1. Ambient or General Lighting. 2. Task Lighting. It is best to have a combination of the two in your shop. It is best to have a combination of the two in your shop..
Applying liquid gold, palladium and/or silver in the final firing of enamel pieces is something that can frequently raise the appearance of a completed piece up to the spectacular. More enamelers should use them, but they should also learn to use them correctly. If they adhere to the following simple suggestions and procedures we feel that greater success will be achieved in their use..
While it is clearly impossible to give a set of rules for each tool and procedure that goldsmiths use, this section gives some examples of the kinds of rules that may be helpful to review when using powered equipment. hand tools and processes have been left out, primarily because their dangers tend to be of the “don’t put your hands in the way of things that might snap or slip” kind. Many specific hints associated with hand tools can be found in the procedures section.
After writing my recent safety book something unexpected happened. I had a number of calls from lawyers about safety issues. These guys were suing jewelry store owners in different places in the US. The litigation was on behalf of the store’s goldsmiths, when working conditions, storage of chemicals and so on had injured them.
An ancient system of working metals, this procedure uses steel punches to manipulate the metal while it is fixed onto a pitch or tar-like material. There are traditional pine-resin pitches and modern petroleum-based ones. The petroleum-based pitches are considered potential dermatitis-causing materials, as well as some evidence of their being carcinogenic. At this point most jewelers pitches available through the main suppliers are petroleum-based, and thus, in my opinion, suspect. Besides, they do not work nearly as nicely as the pine pitches.
When looking at your shop and workspace and considering safety issues it is important to evaluate the procedures you use in terms of safety. This lets you get a handle on what you have to watch out for. If you do this and then make changes to correct unsafe practices or hazards you have then your workspace will have become that much safer for you, your family and visitors.
Sand casting is used extensively for large-scale casting, such as engine blocks, and the grates that one sees around trees in cities on sidewalks, and sand casting used to be the primary method of casting in the jewelry field, and still, in some places, it remains important for larger components and parts, such as one finds on vessels, so sand casting is used in the silversmithing industry still.
Often craftspeople start out making craft objects in their living space, a kitchen, a living room, and sometimes continue working in them even when they have grown to the point that they need a separate studio. It is not wise to share one’s living and family space with workshop space. Usually there are chemicals, tools, equipment, processes, sounds, materials, wastes, dusts and so on that are unhealthy to be exposed to that are produced in a work shop.
This ergonomic bench chair is designed for jewelers and watchmakers. Constructed to provide years of comfort while greatly improving productivity and reducing fatigue it features single touch adjustments to provide independent control of the seat backrest and lumbar height. Category…
How you light your shop, illuminate your working area, experience the reflection from surfaces and the paint you choose for the walls all have an effect on your ability to work in your studio. Poor lighting can strain the eyes, contribute to accidents and make working uncomfortable..
Just as a professional would do, it may be a good idea to conduct a walk-through of your shop. The kind of things you would look for and comment on include…
To learn the art of inlay, its best to start with the basics. This project will walk you through the fundamentals so that you become comfortable enough to move on to a more challenging project. Once you master this simple circular design, youll be setting stones and shells in plaques of various shapes and sizes in no time!.
Asbestos is a real problem for jewelers. When I was first a student in 1974, we had a bucket of loose asbestos fibers under the soldering bench; we would take a handful and moisten it with water to form a clay-like blob to hold things together for soldering. This would be unthinkable today.
Because titanium behaves somewhat differently than the standard metals in the goldsmith’s workshop some special attention to its working is in order here. When sawing, begin the cut with a very light stroke, and increase the pressure only when the blade has securely caught. The sawblade can be protected with a lubricating grease, but even with this precaution it will dull quickly. Titanium can be worked with standard files, but.
Before you submit any jewelry item to a lab to test for heavy metals, you’re going to need to do a little homework. Current state and federal laws regulating lead and cadmium levels in jewelry have mounted hurdles that jewelry makers must clear — and some of those laws pertain to both adults’ and children’s products. It’s important to understand the regulations and your customers’ requirements. If you find that you do need to submit your products for testing, there are a few things you can do to ensure that the testing process goes as smoothly as possible. The more informed you are when entering into a relationship with a lab, the better you can expect your results to be. The following is a collection of general guidelines for jewelry makers to follow when working with a testing service.
Many craftspeople have posture and body position problems. Ramazzini, the founder of occupational medicine and author of a groundbreaking book on diseases of workers published in 1713 writes rather cruelly (and the man was a great humanitarian in his time) about the effects of working posture and position in regard to cobblers and tailors.
Jewelry manufacturers are no strangers to workplace hazards. The process of transforming raw metals into finished pieces of jewelry can involve flames, chemicals, and toxic vapors and dust—all requiring adequate safety gear, ventilation, and careful practices to minimize risk. But…