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What does a carpenter do?

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A carpenter builds or repairs various structures, working primarily with wood. Some of a carpenter's main duties are to:

  • Move, measure, cut, shape, assemble and join materials.
  • Read, prepare and interpret blueprints and drawings.
  • Prepare cost estimates and documentation for clients.
  • Conform to building codes and other regulations.
  • Use, clean and maintain various equipment and tools.
  • Supervise apprentices or other workers.

What are some health and safety issues for carpenters?

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Carpenters face their own unique set of occupational hazards. These include the following:

Additional hazards may be present due to the nature of the worksite. Always be aware of your surroundings.

What are some preventive measures for carpenters?

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  • Inspect work area, tools, and equipment before work starts for possible hazards.
  • Select tools and equipment that allow work to be done using good ergonomic procedures.. When there is a choice, select a tool of low weight.
  • Keep tools and equipment in good working order.
  • Know when to replace accessories on woodworking machines.  
  • Clean up wood dust regularly and maintain good housekeeping practices.
  • Keep work areas clear of clutter and equipment.
  • Disconnect the power to any machine when you have to fix an issue or change parts. Use lock-out/tag out procedures and/or maintain control of the power while working on the machine to prevent accidental start-up.
  • Never operate machinery without all guards in place.
  • Wear appropriate eye protection, hearing protection, footwear, and other protective equipment for the task.
  • Know about the products you are working with, including type of wood, chemicals, paints, stains, etc.
  • Learn safe lifting techniques.
  • Avoid awkward postures or repetitive tasks, or take frequent breaks.
  • Be sure to stand in the correct position - always allow for kick back.
  • Never use your hands to run lumber through the blade or to clean off sawdust. Use a push stick and a brush.
  • Do not wear loose clothing around rotating parts or machinery.
  • Follow a recommended shift work pattern, and know the associated hazards.
  • Install and maintain appropriate ventilation.

What are some good general safe work practices?

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  • Fact sheet last revised: 2021-01-07