I had opened a shipping box and during the shipping process a bottle of glass etching solution had leaked during shipment and my skin came into direct contact with the solution. Upon realizing this, I immediately washed it off, and then pulled up the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). This handy sheet told me the first aid steps I should take and informed me that I needed to get medical attention as soon as possible. Due to my quick and correct actions, I suffered little damage but, if I didn't have the correct information, I could have lost my hand.
Of course, that's a worse-case scenario and this post isn't meant to scare you but while I was soaking my hands (bored out of my skull) I realized that most crafters don't have the safety background I do (I used to be a Human Resources consultant and I specialized in safety and workers' compensation cost control) and I decided to share my information with you today.
I think most of us assume crafting is safe. And that's pretty much correct, but sometimes we do use chemicals to create certain effects and those chemicals might not be safe straight out of the bottle. While I don't think we need to be paranoid, I think we do need to pay attention our safety and the safety of our family when we are crafting.
Here are my top tips for staying safe:
- Whenever you use a chemical product, glue or paint, I recommend that you get a copy of the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), Most companies have these available for download online or you can simply call and ask for one. Read it before you use the product! This handy sheet will tell you what safety precautions you should take, what to do if you get the product on your skin, eyes, etc. and how to properly dispose of the product.
- Know your Poison Control phone number. I've had to call when my daughter ate a piece of Eucalyptus and I was surprised by how calm and helpful they are. Don't be afraid to call them with a question if you fear you have come in contact with something that could harm you.
- Use protection! After reading your MSDS you should know what you need to have on hand when you use your crafting products. I keep gloves, goggles, and dust masks on hand. I even use the goggles when I glitter because I tend to get glitter in my eyes every time!
- Be informed about your protection. Dust masks and respirators are completely different things. A dust mask will just keep large particles out of your respiratory track. If you need to worrry about small particles or fumes, you are going to need a respirator. Different gloves will offer different skin protection. Go online and do a little research to make sure you are using the safety equipment for the job.
- Look for ACMI Safety Certified Products. The Arts and Creative Materials Institute has special labeling for products that are non-toxic and are especially good for children to use.
Finally, use your best judgment. There are some products that I have judged to be too dangerous to have in my house. I've made these decision after reading over the MSDS, thinking about my family's safety, and knowing my physical limits. For example, as an asthma sufferer, I need to be careful not to let products that are dangerous to the respiratory track in my home.
Crafting is fun! There are some wonderful products that produce unique and exciting results. Don't be afraid to use them, just make sure you put safety first!