Health & Safety Guidelines
Like any craft or hobby, glass working has some inherent risk of injury to the artist. As interest in lampworking has increased, it has become clear that general information on potential health and safety risks would be useful.
The following information is intended to increase your enjoyment of lampworking, while adding to your awareness and helping you reduce your exposure to potential hazards. These suggestions have been prepared and reviewed by a group of experienced lampworkers. This is not intended to be a complete list of all hazards associated with lampworking, other hazards may exist.
Eye protection is very important in lampworking, for two reasons.
First, glass can sometimes shatter when placed directly in the flame, and you must protect your eyes from flying glass fragments. Goggles or glasses with side shields are good for this.
You must also protect your eyes from potentially damaging Ultraviolet and Infrared rays, which are emitted when you melt glass in a flame. For many years, the standard eye protection for lampworkers has been “didymium” glasses, which have the additional feature of filtering out the distracting yellow glare given off by molten glass.
In recent years other types of protective eyewear have become available, some of which are superior to traditional didymium glasses. The type of protective eyewear that is right for you depends on the type of glasswork you will be doing. For instance, making beads would give off less radiation than working a large piece of borosilicate tubing, which in turn gives off less than melting fused quartz. Also, different people may have different sensitivity.
Please protect your eyes. Check with your optometrist and other reliable sources for more information on choosing eye protection.
Cuts and Burns
These can be avoided with common sense and care. The most common minor burns occur when someone picks up the end of a glass rod or tube, forgetting that it is hot. A simple system, such as always laying the hot end of a rod away from you, can help you remember which end to grab.
Arrange your work area so that you never have to reach in front of your torch to get a tool or piece of glass. Choose your work clothes carefully, avoiding synthetic fibers, long loose sleeves, and shirts with open pockets or pants with folded cuffs.
Burns can be treated with ice, aloe vera sap, cold cider vinegar, or a variety of home remedies. Treat your injuries with respect; serious cuts or burns may require professional medical attention.