Floor covering installation can take a heavy toll on the body, from scrapes and cuts, to torn ligaments and tendonitis, to back injuries and damaged knee joints. By following correct safety procedures, these injuries can be avoided in many cases. While most installers are aware of the need for proper safety procedures, the extent to which they put these procedures into practice varies widely. Too often, safety takes a back seat to other concerns, such as job speed and efficiency. While not changing into Kevlar gloves before cutting or donning a respirator before spraying adhesives might save a minute or two, the results could be harmful, or even fatal. You may have heard about the floor covering installer in Arizona who was killed last year when the fumes from an adhesive he was using were ignited by a pilot light, causing a massive explosion that killed him and destroyed the home he was working in. Although accidents on this scale are thankfully rare, it does reinforce the importance of proper safety techniques and equipment usage for floor covering installers.
If injuries to yourself aren't reason enough for concern, consider the potential injuries, and the resulting liability, that your inattention to safety could cause for others. That discarded razor blade you leave lying around could wreak havoc in the hands of a child. The hot seaming iron you leave plugged in could cause serious burns. These are concerns that you should take into account every time you work.
While individual accidents are certainly a cause for concern for installers, the damage done on a daily basis, from repetitive movements such as hammering and kicking, can cause serious, even debilitating injuries. Choosing the most ergonomically safe tools, using proper techniques, and stretching thoroughly before starting work and throughout each day can help minimize the damage of repetitive stress injuries (RSI). Also, if you haven't done so already, be sure to find a good chiropractor in your area and get evaluation and treatment. As a long-time RSI patient, I have personally found chiropractic to be the most effective treatment, by far, for these types of injuries.
With that in mind, this edition of Floor Covering Installer features several articles focusing on different aspects of safety for floor covering installers. In this edition of "Namba's World," columnist Jon Namba gives an in-depth examination of the tools, techniques and equipment necessary for safe installation of all types of floor covering materials. Special thanks to Jon, Chris Davis, and the other members of the World Floor Covering Association, who work tirelessly throughout the year promoting safety in the floor covering installation trade. In this month's "Getting Down to Business" column, Gary Kloth further explores ways that installers can work more safely. Finally, in a follow-up to their feature article on the safety risks of wood dust in the September issue of FCI, Bonakemi USA explores the safety advantages of waterborne hardwood finishes.
These articles offer a wealth of useful information that you can use every day to work more safely and protect your most valuable asset, your body. Take this information to heart, and start the New Year right by making a resolution to make safety your top priority.