Blacksmithing is a creative hobby and career for many, though this interesting practice does have its share of dangers. A blacksmith’s forge reaches temperatures that are hot enough to melt metals, so it’s important to use caution around such extreme conditions. If you’re a blossoming blacksmith or simply need a refresher course, here are some of the blacksmithing forge hazards to be aware of in your workshop.
Every blacksmith knows the possibility of burns when working with the forge. Whatever type of fuel you use, whether hot coals, propane, or otherwise, your forge will burn hot enough to cause some serious burns if you don’t work with caution. This is why wearing the proper protective equipment is one of the most important tips for forge safety. While the right gloves and apron will protect you from the heat, make sure to protect your shop from fires as well by clearing the space around your forge, keeping a fire extinguisher nearby, and placing your forge away from walls and tight spaces.
Hearing & Sight Loss
Another hazard of working at a forge is the possibility of hearing and sight loss. The bright light from the forge plus any stray sparks and debris pose a huge risk to your eyes. Along with proper protective clothing, make sure you invest in the right protective goggles for blacksmithing. Additionally, the repetitive hammering strikes needed for crafting materials can damage your hearing, so make sure to use a pair of earplugs or industrial headphones.
Fumes from the forge can also be a threat to your health. During the smelting process, your forge may produce toxic fumes and smoke that can be dangerous if inhaled. To prevent toxic fumes, your workshop needs proper cross-ventilation to let these gasses escape. You can also take frequent breaks outside in the fresh air or wear a face mask to reduce the risk.
Dehydration or Heatstroke
While not as severe as some of the above conditions, many blacksmiths can still suffer from dehydration and heatstroke from working over a blazing furnace all day. Dehydration and heatstroke can both occur from long-term exposure to heat. This is another reason to make sure your workshop has adequate ventilation to cycle this warm air. Remember to stay hydrated throughout the forging session and take breaks when needed.
Now that you know these blacksmithing forge hazards to be aware of, you can adequately prepare your workspace to minimize these hazards. This is a great place for beginner blacksmiths to start, whether you are taking it up as a hobby or starting your career. Your safety is the most important thing to prioritize when you enter the workshop.