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AFMS Safety EFMLS Safety RMFMS Safety AOS Safety AFMS Safety Manual Update

Safety Tips from the EFMLS

All of the following articles were written by:
        Bill Klose
        EFMLS Safety Chairman


bulletFeb 2000 - Safety Shoes
bulletMar 2000 - Hammer Safety
bulletApr 2000 - Safety with Common Hand Tools in the Field
bulletMay 2000 - Lyme Disease and Some Other Hazards Found where Rockhounds Roam
bulletJun 2000 - Safety in the Heat and Sun
bulletSep 2000 - Pliers and File Safety
bulletOct 2000 - Grinding, Polishing, and Buffing Machines
bulletDec 2000 - Traveling Safety
bulletJan 2001 - Eye Safety
bulletFeb 2001 - Frost-bite and Hypothermia
bulletMar 2001 - Back Safety
bulletApr 2001 - Ear Safety
bulletMay 2001 - Vehicle Safety
bulletJun 2001 - Field Trip Safety
bulletSep 2001 - Lapidary Safety
bulletOct 2001 - Fire Hazard Safety
bulletNov 2001 - Cold Weather Safety
bulletMar 2003 - Safety First (Hammer Safety)


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Safety Shoes

by Bill Klose EFMLS Safety Chairman
February 2000 EFMLS News

The wearing of safety shoes is not only required throughout U.S. industry, mines, quarries, and gravel pits, but is just plain common sense. This point was driven home for me many years ago when a young man on my production team had an eleven hundred pound steel roll from a toilet paper rewinder fall on his foot. The resulting blow caused his safety shoe protective cap to explode and thus expend the momentum from the roll, and produced a nasty looking and painful set of blood blisters and black and blue marks on the top of his foot, but no broken bones or loss of toes.

Today's safety shoes are available for many functions, in many styles, and are quite affordable. In selecting a pair of safety shoes, consider what you will be doing in pursuit of our wonderful hobby. If your passion is the art of the lapidary, slabbing rocks, or the sale or display of rocks, minerals, or fossils, a nice pair of low cut safety shoes with protective tips (steel or nonmetallic), such a sneakers, oxfords, penny loafers, even slip ons, may provide you with the protection you need from a dropped specimen or hand tool. If you attend field trips or walk over rugged terrain, you should consider safety shoes that support the ankles and provide protection from sharp sticks, thorns, stones, abrasion, temperature, moisture, and walking impact. A pair of waterproof boots that lace over the ankles would be ideal for this purpose. Higher lacing boots would be advised for areas where thorn bushes, cactus, or snakes are found. Full grain leather or waterproof safety shoes will provide moisture protection for normal weather encountered, however for extensive wear in water, such as creeks, beaches, snow, mud, etc., I strongly recommend that overboot or waders be used over the safety shoes. The soles of safety shoes should provide solid grip traction, but not clog or chew up the trail. A properly fitted set of safety shoes with a liner and footbed inside will provide ventilation, insulation from heat or cold, protection from rubbing, and absorption of walking impact, and all day comfort.

The wearing of wool socks (or other materials recommenced by the manufacture) in the safety shoes will wick perspiration away and protect the feet from extreme temperatures and disease. Tucking the bottoms of your trousers and shoelaces into the top of the boots will keep insects, stones and other undesirable items from getting up your pantlegs and down into your safety shoes, and will reduce the chance of you tripping over your shoe laces. Please note that general issue army boots do not have protective tips and thus are not safety shoes. Only certain army personnel, like mechanics, are issued safety shoes.

Today safety shoes are available from most shoe stores. Tell your shoe store salesperson what your needs are, and find the style that you like. You may find that you are wearing them everyday for safety.

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Hammer Safety

Safety First
by Bill Klose, EFMLS Safety chairman
March 2000 EFMLS News

Hammers used by rock hounds come in every size, type and construction, and include rock hammers, bricklayer's or mason's hammers, blacksmith's or sledge hammers, machinist's peen hammers, jeweler's hammers, setting hammers, soft face hammers, lead or copper faced hammers, trimmer's and welder's hammer's, as well as a variety of mallets, such as rawhide, rubber, and tinner's. I have even seen napping hammers (a 3 pound high carbon steel hammer with tapering faces used for forming stones during road construction or similar stone work) and railroad track mauls (used for driving railroad spikes). As it is hard to anticipate what a rockhounds "favorite weapon" will be, I though I would present a list of general hammer safety practices followed by the proper use of some of the more common hammer types.

  1. Always select the proper type, size, and weight of hammer for the job.
  2. Always wear eye protection.
  3. Always strike a hammer blow squarely, avoiding glancing blows and over and under strikes. The hammers striking face should be parallel with the surface being struck.
  4. When striking a chisel, punch, or wedge, the striking face of the hammer should be 3/8" larger than the struck face of the tool. Both the striking hammers face and the struck face of the tool should be free of oil.
  5. Do not strike another hammer with a hammer.
  6. Do not strike a harder surface with a hard surface hammer.
  7. Never use a hammer with dents, cracks, chips, mushrooming, or excessive wear. Replace the hammer-redressing is not recommended. 
  8. Replace worn or damaged handles. A qualified individual should replace hammer handles. Most hardware stores will replace hammer handles for a nominal fee. They can also provide a rubber sleeve for sledge hammers, which will prevent handle damage just above the head.

Bricklayer's or mason's hammers are designed for setting or splitting bricks, masonry tile, and concrete blocks. Never use them to strike metal or drive tools such as chisels. The blade of a bricklayer's hammer should be kept sharp by redressing at a 40 degree angle with a bench grinder. Keep the metal cool while grinding by quenching often in water to protect the metals tempering.

Hand drilling hammers are used with chisels, star drills, punches, and hardened nails. Never use common nail (claw) hammers for striking metal, such as chisels, as they are designed for driving unhardened nails and their shape, depth of face, and balance make them unsuitable for this use.

Machinist's peen hammers (ball, cross, or straight) are designed for striking chisels and punches and riveting, straightening and shaping metal.

Blacksmith's or sledge hammers are designed for striking wood, metal, concrete, or stone, depending on size, weight, and shape.

When using a hammer, grip the handle near the end where it is designed for gripping and will give you the best control and impact with the least effort. Watch your hands, shins, and feet. It may be advisable to wear gloves, long sleeve shirts, and high lacing safety shoes to protect from flying debris and sharp shards if the situation warrants it.

When storing hammers for a period of time, lightly lubricate metal parts, but wipe any oil or grease from rubber mallets or rubber handle grips to prevent damage to the rubber.

So get out there and hammer up a storm, safely.

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Safety with Common Hand Tools in the Field

by Bill Klose EFMLS Safety Chairman
April 2000 EFMLS News

Last month we covered hammers. Now lets look at other hand tools commonly encountered in the field.

Chisels and drills are used with hammers. Flat cold chisels are used to form and cut cold metal, so we should use brick chisels (double beveled point with an included angle of 80 degrees) and brick sets (single beveled point with an included angle of 45 degrees) to split rocks. Star drills have all cutting edges to an included angle of 70 degrees. Hold chisels or drills with a loose fist, keeping the fingers relaxed in order to minimize the chance of being hit by a glancing blow. A sponge rubber pad forced over the chisel or drill above the hand may also protect the hand from a glancing blow. If some one else is holding the chisel or drill, it is best to use a set of tongs or a chisel holder to guide the chisel. Gloves are always recommended for both individuals to protect from glancing blows and flying chips. The following safe practices apply:

  1. Protect cutting edges by installing protective covers.
  2. Store in racks where they may not be chipped or broken.
  3. Regrind broken or chipped chisel edges before using. Remember to cool in water often to protect the temper of the metal. Drill cutting edges should be hand filed. Replace chisels and drills with mushroomed heads to prevent shards of metal from breaking off and causing injury.
  4. Lubricate with light oil before storing.

Crowbars, pinch bars, and wreaking bars are favorite tools of the rock hound. Be sure to use the proper size for the job, with a point or toe that will grip the object to be moved and a heel that will act as a pivot or fulcrum. Use of a block of wood under the heel may also keep the bar from slipping and causing hand injuries. Store bars secured upright so they wont fall or cause tripping hazards. Never hit a bar with another tool and do not try to pry an item that will cause the bar to bend.

Knives are responsible for more disabling injuries than any other hand tool according to the National safety Council. Use knives only for the purpose intended, not splitting rocks with a hammer. Keep the knives blade sharp and cut away from the body, avoiding jerky motions. Use knives with retractable blades whenever possible. If the item to be cut is held in the other hand, wear cut resistant gloves. Always wear a sheathed knife at the hip towards the back, never on the front part of belt. This prevents severing an artery or vein in a leg in case of a fall. Wipe knives with a separate cloth with the sharp part of the blade turned away, not on clothes of with fingers to prevent cuts. Wash knives separate from other utensils. When not in use keep knives in sheaths or racks and guard their edges to protect people as well as the knives edge. For long term storage apply a rust preventative compound on all metal parts and place in a dry spot. Avoid horseplay such as "fencing" when using knives and have plenty of room so you wont bump into anything. The 18" machete is used to cut tall grass, vines, and small brush and is heaviest and widest near the pointed end and has a handle shaped to fit the hand. When using a machete, always make sure no one is close enough to be injured before swinging the tool, and always clear the swing path so as not to deflect the blade. Do not use a dull or defective tool and store properly in its sheath when not in use. For prolonged storage coat metal parts with light oil.

Axes are designed for cutting, felling, trimming, notching, and splitting wood and soft material. A narrow blade is for hard wood and a wide blade is for soft wood. A single bit axe may also be used for driving wooden stakes, not chisels and drill bits. Never strike an axe against metal, stone, or concrete. Never strike with the side of an axe. Never use an axe with a worn or damaged handle. Use steel wedges for splitting wood and use a sledge hammer or maul for driving a steel wedge, not a single bit axe. Keep axe blades sharp - a dull blade may glance back and cut the user. Always wear safety shoes, safety glasses, and durable pants. Before swinging an axe, ensure you have a path clear of vines, brush, etc., with no one standing close. During swing, let hand slide down the handle towards the other hand near the end. Have your weight evenly distributed with knees set but not tense. The body should be relaxed and free to swing and bend at the waist. For a right handed person, the left foot should be closer to the work. Protect axe blades with a sheath or metal guard. Carry axes at side-single blades pointed down. Axes, like knives, should be kept sharp by honing.

Double bevel mattlock and pick mattlocks are designed for digging and cutting. There use and safe practices are similar to that for axes.

Long handled shovels are used for digging in open areas and D handled shovels are for light digging in confined areas. The spade is for heavy digging in confined areas. The post hole digger is used to bore holes for posts, explosive charges, etc. Shovel blades should be kept well trimmed and the handles in good shape and free of splinters. Wear heavy safety boots with sturdy soles and use the ball of the foot, not the arch, to press the shovel into the ground. If the instep is used and the foot slips off the shovel, the sharp corner of the shovel may cut the shoe and the foot. Keep legs well separated with spring in the knees - the leg muscles should take much of the load while shoveling. Dip the blade in water often or coat the blade with wax or grease to keep the shovel free of sticky material and caking. Treat the wooden handles with linseed oil occasionally to avoid cracking and splinters. Store shovels against or hang on the wall in a rack or shovel box.

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Lyme Disease and Some Other Hazards Found where Rockhounds Roam

by Bill Klose EFMLS Safety Chairman
Submitted for the May 2000 EFMLS News

With the onset of spring the rock hounds heart turns to the field and rock hunting. The renewal of spring with all it's beauty and bounty, also brings out the reptiles, insects, spiders, centipedes, scorpions, and poison oaks, ivys, and sumacs. The dangers posed by these creatures and flora of nature are well documented in the AFMS "Safety Manual" which I highly recommend club members review prior to heading out for the 2000 collecting season. The Safety manual is available in your local club library or from the EFMLS Supplies Coordinator Ned Reynolds for $l.50 plus $ .35 Shipping and handling at 37 Broadway, AMENIA NY 12501-0394. Some additional data has come to light since the AFMS "Safety Manual" was published that I would like to review with you here.

The wood and deer ticks, which commonly occur in thick woods or tall grass, have been long associated with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, but in recent years their bite has also been linked to Lyme Disease and several other severe illnesses, including encephalitis (brain inflammation), Ehrlichiosis, and Babesiosis. Lyme disease has been reported from all U. S. States except Montana, since it was first identified in children in Lyme, Connecticut in l975. The symptoms of the disease include an expanding red rash around small hard white lumps, arthritis, fever, chills, aches, enlarged lymph glands, and joint swelling. Not all of these symptoms may occur, which makes diagnosis difficult. Several weeks to several months later symptoms may include facial paralysis, joint inflammation, heart palpitations, memory loss/difficulty concentrating, and changes in sleep habits or mood, so early treatment by a physician is a must. But not to worry. On the positive side, the illness is limited to warm weather periods (April through September), not all ticks will be carrying the disease, and even if you are bitten, the tick usually must be logged in your skin for 36 to 48 hours to actually pass on the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease. So prevention of tick infestation by not allowing ticks a point of entry through your clothes, the use of tick repellent in areas where they are known to occur, staying clear of tall grass and dense woods, frequent inspection of you and your pets for ticks, prompt and careful removal and disposal of ticks, and washing of hands after handling ticks (do not crush between fingers to kill) will ward off the possibility of contracting tick-born disease. There is no immunity built up to Lyme disease after having had it, but it cant be passed from one person to another. A vaccine has been developed and is given as three injections in a 12 month period, but is not recommended for children or the elderly.

Added to the list of critters in the AFMS "Safety Manual" is the caterpillar, some species of which have poisonous spines or hairs, which when touched can cause skin irritation, itching, redness, swelling and a raised rash. Wash well after touching a caterpillar.

Animal bites. Most animal bites are caused by household pets, however bites from wild animals can be especially dangerous because of the possibility of being exposed to rabies. Bites that only break the skin should be washed thoroughly with soap and water and covered with an antibiotic cream and clean bandage. If you haven't had a tetanus shot in the last 10 years, get a booster shot. A bite where the skin is badly torn or that creates a deep puncture and is bleeding should have pressure applied to stop the bleeding and be shown to a doctor as soon as possible. If there are signs of infection or you suspect the animal may have rabies (displays odd behavior, is foaming at the mouth, etc.) see your doctor immediately.

Because we EFMLS rock hounds fan out all over the U. S. to collect, I am adding some Western items for your consideration.

Cacti. If you are struck by cactus spines, pull them out with a tweezers or fine toothed comb, being careful not to break them off in the skin. For fine spines use scotch tape or apply a thick layer of household glue, letting it dry, then slowly peel it off, taking the spines attached to it. Apply an antiseptic to the punctures and watch for any infection from fungus on the spines.

Valley fever is well known to fossil collectors at Shark Tooth Hill, Kern County, California, but is also known to occur across the Southwest to Texas and into Northern Mexico. The disease may last for years but once recovered, a person is immune. Valley fever cannot be transferred from one person to another and at this time there is no vaccine available. Valley fever is a highly infectious fungus disease which occurs in the soil and is inhaled as airborne spores into the lungs. Most cases occur during dry periods following periods of heavy rain. It produces flu like symptoms, and in rare cases serious fever and scarring of the lung tissue. It is occasionally fatal or causes meningitis. The cure is bed rest and possibly antibiotics.

Pulmonary Syndrome Hantavirus. This disease occurs in rodent urine, feces, and saliva in the Southwestern U. S.. It is primarily carried by the deer mouse, but has also been detected in pinion and brush mice, and the western chipmunk. The symptoms include a high fever, backache, respiratory distress, excessive urine production (polyuria) and abdominal pain with possible hemorrhaging of the capillaries. Recovery is in three weeks or kidney failure. Death may result from the loss of blood. Person to person transmission and transmission by insects or cats and dogs is not known to occur. Protection includes staying away from areas with heavy rodent infestation and use of HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) respirators when having to enter known areas of infection or heavy rodent infestation. A fairly rare disease in the U.S. but with a high mortality rate and well worth being aware of.

There is no need to panic and cancel collecting trips because of all the potential pitfalls out in the field, but it is important to be aware of them and what to do if the need should arise.

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Safety in the Heat and Sun

by Bill Klose EFMLS Safety Chairman
Submitted for the June 2000 EFMLS News

Now that the warmer weather is with us, so are the dangers associated with sunlight and hot temperatures. Exposure to the sun for excessive periods of time can cause sunburn, premature aging of the skin (leathery, rough and wrinkled), and the long term risk of developing skin cancer. Eye exposure to Ultraviolet (UV) rays can also cause cumulative destructive changes in the structure of the cornea and lens of the eye. Visible light, if too intense, can cause eye strain, headache, and destroy eye retina tissue. Infrared radiation transmits heat to the eye, causing discomfort, and if prolonged, can contribute to the development of cataracts. Sunlight reflected from sand, snow (leftover from winter), and water can also increase damage to the eyes and skin. To avoid exposure to the sun, wear long sleeves and pants (not shorts!) of dense cloth, hats, sunglasses with UV protection, and a non-allegetic, waterproof, sunscreen with a Skin Protection Factor (SPF) of l5 or more on the remaining uncovered skin. Reapply the sunscreen every two hours. Protect your skin and eyes even on cloudy days which can be when you will receive your worst exposure. UV damage can be more sever at higher elevations where the air is thinner and filters less out of the sunlight. In exceptionally hot parts of the country, such as the Desert Southwest, avoid exposure to the sun between 10 AM and 3 PM when the suns rays are the most intense. Some newspapers and TV stations forecast a Sun Intensity Index with the weather, which tells how many minutes it takes for fair unprotected skin to redden. This time is then multiplied by the SPF of your sunscreen to give you an estimate of how long you can delay becoming sunburned. If the Index is not available and you usually sunburn in 20 minutes, than multiply the SPF (15) and you should be protected for 300 minutes or 5 hours before you sunburn. Recent studies have shown that sunscreen does not protect against skin melanomas, a serious form of skin cancer, and that serious sunburns can lead to skin cancer 10 to 30 years later. Do not believe the myth that a sun tan will protect your skin from sunburn.

Effects of heat and humidity on the body. The core of the human body works on an optimum temperature of 98.6F + or - 1.8F (Internal organs, cavities, not skin). Heat cramps, heat exhaustion (or prostration) and heat stroke may occur if the core temperature rises above this optimum temperature. A persons ability to think and reason may also be impaired. The body has its own internal mechanisms to maintain the optimum core temperature described by the equation:

Hs = Hm +/- Hc +/- Hr - He

Hs = Stored Heat
Hm = Heat gained due to Muscular Work (Metabolic activity)
Hc = Heat gained or lost by convection from the surroundings
Hr = Heat gained of lost by radiation from the surroundings
He = Heat lost by the evaporation of sweat

From the equation you can see that decreasing activity, temperature, the amount of radiated heat and increasing evaporation rate all will contribute to the decrease of core body temperature. This means that staying out of direct sunlight and heat or taking frequent breaks in a shady, cool, or air conditioned place, will decrease the chances of developing heat disorders. The intake of fluids containing salt (at least a pint an hour), such as sport drinks, or water and salt pills, will also help the body control core temperature. In hot humid weather, especially above 97 F, it is best to stay indoors and avoid all strenuous activity, as the body can not sweat enough to properly control core temperature.

Heat cramps can be caused by muscle exertion during hot weather and are characterized by sudden sever cramps of the skeletal and abdominal muscles, excessive sweating and thirst. If you should suffer these symptoms, rest in a cool spot, take a salty drink, and message the cramped muscles. Heat exhaustion or prostration is caused by the body running out salt and/or water. The symptoms may include profuse sweating, with pale, moist, cool skin, headache, weakness, dizziness, loss of appetite, heat cramps, nausea (with or without vomiting), urge to defecate, chills ("goose flesh"), rapid breathing, tingling of the hands and/or feet, dehydration, a low grade fever (99 f to l02 F) and confusion. Heat stroke is caused by profound disturbance of the body's heat regulating mechanism due to prolonged exposure to the sun, high temperatures, high or low humidity, and lack of air circulation. Symptoms include red (flushed) dry skin, headache, dizziness, nausea (Stomach pains), confusion, weakness, loss of consciousness, convulsions, weak and rapid pulse and breathing, a high fever (104 f to 106 F) and low blood pressure due to shock. To treat heat stroke and heat exhaustion, move the victim to a cool spot (air conditioned and with a fan if possible), lay on the back with legs elevated, loosen tight clothing, and place cool compresses on the forehead, neck, and underarms. Water can be sprinkled on the victim, and if conscious and not vomiting, l teaspoon of salt dissolved in a quart of water can be administered by mouth at the rate of 4 ounces every 15 minutes. If the symptoms persist or the victim is unconscious, seek medical attention or transport to a hospital immediately while continuing treatment.

For additional information refer to the AFMS Safety Manual or log on the AFMS Web site at http://www.amfed.org/a_safetyAFMS1.htm. This AFMS web site contains AFMS, RMFMS, and EFMLS safety articles.

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Pliers and File Safety

by Bill Klose EFMLS Safety Chairman
Submitted for the September 2000 EFMLS News

With the coming to the end of the collecting season it is now appropriate to look at shop hand tool safety. A few of the field hand tools, such as hammers, chisels, and knives, are also commonly used by rock hounds in the shop, but will not be reconsidered here.

A commonly used group of tools are the pliers and tongs. Slip joint pliers, which include the well known water pump pliers, have serrated jaws with a rod-gripping section and are used to hold objects. The slip joint accommodates objects of different sizes. These pliers may also have a cutting edge for cutting soft wire and nails, however cutting large or hard items will spring the jaws. Arc joint pliers are similar, but may have straight or curved jaws and will accommodate a larger variety of object sizes. The tightening of bolts or nuts with slip joint or arc joint pliers is not recommended and will usually result in damage to the nut or bolt and may lead to damaged knuckles when the pliers slip. Use wrenches for tightening nuts and bolts. Vice grip pliers are designed to provide a tighter grip but are still not to be used to tighten nuts and bolts. Parallel jaw pliers are designed to hold flat surfaced objects such as sheets of metal.

Flat nosed pliers and round nosed pliers have a fixed pivot jaw and curved handles and may or may not have insulated grips. The flat nosed pliers may have smooth or serrated jaws and are designed to bend light sheet metal or wire. Round nose pliers are used to make loops in soft wire.

Diagonal cutting pliers have a fixed pivot and curved handles that are offset from the jaws about 15 degrees so as to provide the operator enough knuckle clearance while making flush cuts. These pliers are designed for cutting small light pieces of wire, cotter keys, etc. and should not be used to hold or grip items. When cutting, restrain the piece to be cut off so it will not become a missile hazard. End cutting pliers or nippers are used to cut off wire flush to the working surface, thus keeping fingers away from the wire ends. Hand shears are made with straight or curved cutting blades and are used for cutting sheet metal. Shears are made for right-handed operators so that the cutting line is always in full view for accuracy. Straight blade shears are used for cutting straight lines and curves, while curved bladed shears are used for cutting short straight lines and curves and small intricate designs. When using diagonal pliers, end cutting pliers, or shears, keep fingers away from the jaws and cutting edges and always wear eye protection. Do not attempt to cut heavier material than the tool is designed for. Do not use plies or shears as hammers or pry bars. Keep shears sharp with an oil stone or file. Grinding is not recommend and shortens shear life. Keep pliers and shears clean and lubricate the pivot point with a light oil. Store in a dry location on hooks or a shelf, protecting the cutting surfaces from contact with other tools. A thin coat of oil can be applied to protect from rust. Do not remove insulation from handles or oil insulated handles. Replace pliers that have broken handles, cutting edges or jaws.

Straight-lip flat jaw tongs have a fixed pivot point, two straight jaws and long straight handles and are used for placing hot items into and picking them out of pickling solution.

Files come in many types and sizes and are used in metal smithing and soap stone carving. Some general safety precautions for using files are: 1. Never use a file without a securely attached file handle (unless it is a swiss pattern type). 2. Do not oil files which will cause the file to slide across the work, preventing fast cutting. 3. Do not use files for anything but filing. 4. Clean files often as clogged files will scratch the work. Always use a file scorer and file cleaning brush to clean a file-do not strike against another tool or object to remove filings. 5. Store files in a file rack or box so that the file faces or edges do not touch each other or other tools. Do not store files with lubricants on them. Wrap each file with a water-proofed barrier wrapping paper.

A variety of other hand tools can be found on the rock hounds work bench and each has it's own operating and safety instructions. Work Safe!

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Grinding, Polishing, and Buffing Machines

by Bill Klose EFMLS Safety Chairman
Submitted for the October 2000 EFMLS News

Now that the field collecting season is about over for many of us, we turn our attention to processing the summers "harvest" of goodies. For many of us this means using our lapidary equipment, especially the rotating grinding, polishing, and buffing machines. Abrasive disks and wheels are made of bonded abrasive and are usually spindle mounted by a center hole to the grinding machine. Polishing wheels are wood faced with leather, stitched canvas, or similar materials. A coat of emery or other abrasive is glued to the periphery of these wheels. Buffing wheels are made of disks of felt, leather, canvas, or linen to which a coat of mild abrasive, such as tripoli, can be applied to the periphery. Some lapidaries will also have brush or scratch wheels made up of protruding wires of different types, sizes and lengths. Make sure that the machine to be used is heavy duty enough to accommodate the size and type of wheel you will be using and that the surface speed of the wheel peripheral is within the operating range recommended by the manufacture. If you do not know the recommended speed of a grinding wheel, operate below 2500 surface feet per minute (sfpm) to eliminate the risk of the wheel disintegrating and causing damage to the surrounding equipment or personal injury. Polishing and buffing wheels are operated at a speed of 3,000 to 7,000 sfpm with 4,000 sfpm a good speed for most purposes. All machines should be connected to a power source of the proper rating for the machine and grounded. Circuit breaker or Ground Fault (GFI) circuit breaker protection are highly recommended. The shut off switch or plug should be within reach of the operator in a dry place protected from any spray from the machines coolant. Stand to the side of a grinding machine when starting up and allow at least one minute of warm up time before starting to grind. Always use coolant when the wheel is turning and while grinding, but never allow coolant to flow over a wheel that is not turning, as the coolant may collect on one portion of the wheel and throw it out of balance, which could cause the wheel to disintegrate upon starting. Before stopping a wheel, discontinue applying coolant and run the wheel until it dries evenly, thus maintaining balance. Only the periphery or circumference of standard grinding wheels are designed for grinding-never grind on the sides of a grinding wheel. For bench and floor stand grinding wheels, the peripheral guard should enclose the wheel and spindle as completely as possible, not to exceed 65 degrees of wheel circumference exposure. The guard should be adjusted to maintain a maximum opening between the top of the guard and the grinding wheel of 1/4 inch (6 mm). Safety guards should also cover any exposed arbor ends and drive belts. A work rest should be installed at the height of the horizontal center plane of the machines spindle no more that 1/8 inch from the grinding wheel to prevent work from becoming wedged between the rest and the wheel, resulting in the wheel breaking. this distance should be checked often as the wheel wears. Adjustment of the rest and the guards should only be made when the wheel is stopped, to avoid contact with the moving parts and resulting damage to the equipment and possibly fingers. Grinding work should be done near the center plane of the wheel and moved back and forth across the face of the wheel to produce even wear. Do not force the work and take too heavy of a cut. Do not hold small pieces of work against a wheel with bare hands. Small pieces should be placed in a simple jig or fixture or attached to a dop stick to protect the fingers from injury. The floor in front of the grinder or polishing machine should be of rough cement or a non slip rubber mat to prevent falls on the wet surface. Abrasive wheels that are out of true or unbalanced will not only produce poor work and reduced wheel life, but could cause machine damage or operator injury. Rutted or rough wheels can be redressed with wheel dressing tools. The wheel dressing tool should have a hood guard to protect the operator from flying particles from the wheel or broken cutters and should be used with a rigid work rest set close to the wheel. Prior to use, inspect star dressers for worn shafts and disks. If using a diamond dresser, apply to the face of the wheel at the center plane of the wheel or slightly below the center plane, never above. Never use a lathe cutting tool to dress a grinding wheel. The wheel dresser should be moved across the wheels face while holding the heel or lug firmly against the edge of the tool rest. Apply moderate pressure evenly and slowly. Before and after dressing a grinding wheel, round off the grinding wheels edges with a hard grinding stone to prevent the edges of the wheel from chipping. Wear a safety shield over your safety glasses for added protection from heavy particles. Wheels that are badly worn or out of balance should be taken out of service. Abrasive wheels should not be bumped or dropped during handling. New wheels and wheels that have been in storage should be inspected for cracks and other damage and should be given the "ring" test by suspending the wheel by its center hole on a peg or finger and gently tapping it on the side with a wooden screwdriver handle at 45, 135, 225 and 3l5 degrees around its circumference from its vertical center plane. A good wheel will produce a clear metallic ring of various pitches, depending on its grade and size. Do not use wheels that have been in storage longer than recommended by the manufacturer. Abrasive wheels should be mounted between matching balanced flanges that have a diameter of more than one third of the wheels diameter. Mount compression washers of blotting paper (less that 0.025 inch thick) or rubber or leather (less than 0.l25 inches thick) between the wheel and the flanges to compensate for unevenness of the wheel or the flanges. Firmly mount the wheel on the grinders spindle with a spindle end nut, but not so tightly so as to distort the flanges or break the wheel. A wheel that is loose on the spindle will run off center causing vibration. Once mounted on the machine, the wheel should be turned several rotations by hand to ensure that the hood guards and work rest have the proper clearance and that the wheel is properly centered on the spindle. Mounting procedures for polishing and buffing wheels, and brush or scratch wheels are basically the same as for abrasive wheels. When any of these wheels are moving do not touch any moving part of the machine or wheel to determine its smoothness or condition. Always wear safety glasses with side shields or goggles. Do not wear loose clothing or gloves that could get caught in the rotating components of the machine. In some cases gloves may be required for protection from some liquids used during the buffing or polishing process. Books on lapidary or chapter 12 of the AFMS SAFETY MANUAL on lapidary safety and manufactures instructions discuss these materials and there hazards. Adequate personal protection should be worn when using brush or scratch wheels, such as aprons (leather, heavy canvas, heavy rubber), leather gloves, face shields and goggles. When applying abrasive to a rotating wheel, hold the side of the cake lightly against the wheels peripheral. Where possible apply polishing compounds with a brush. If a stick is used, apply the side of the stick to the off side of the wheel, so if it is thrown, it will fly away from the wheel. Usually all operations should be done wet, however if the polishing procedure calls for sanding or polishing dry, wear a dust respirator or use a suction blower to remove any dust. Silica dust if inhaled can lead to a serious lung condition that is incurable, silicosis. The lapidary is filled with other rotating machinery, such as diamond saws, flat laps, drills, etc., etc. All of these machines are supplied with operating, maintenance, and safety instructions by the manufacture. Use all safety procedures and enjoy our hobby without pain and with all your appendages.

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Traveling Safety

by Bill Klose EFMLS Safety Chairman
Submitted for the December 2000 EFMLS News


The AFMS SAFETY MANUAL has several chapters devoted to the family car and its care prior to a trip and the car as a life saver. At this time of the year we, as rock hounds and members of the traveling public, have to consider winter driving, for most of us this means driving in the snow and ice.

Prior to venturing out in winter weather, consider if the trip is worth the risk, or if the trip can be delayed until conditions are better. Winterizing the family vehicle is a must. Make sure that your brakes, windshield wipers, defroster and heater system, and exhaust are all in good condition. Check your fluids for the proper types and levels, such as winter grade oil, proper antifreeze levels and temperatures, and winter type windshield washer fluid. It may pay to have a tune-up, prior to going into winter, to avoid starting problems on the colder days. Make sure that tires are properly inflated and the tread condition is good per the manufacture's instructions. Make sure the battery has good capacity and that the battery connections are clean and tight. Have all belts and hoses inspected. Have the brakes adjusted if required. Make sure all lights are in working order, including the emergency flashers.

A number of items should be carried in your vehicle in case of emergency. These include the standard jack, lug wrench and spare tire or "donut", window scraper, flash light with spare batteries, matches in a watertight container and a "survival" candle, emergency flares and reflective triangle, first aid kit with pocket knife, jumper cables, adequate blankets and or sleeping bags, set of tire chains, traction mats, sack of sand for traction, and ice melt, small shovel and snow shovel, medicine, energy food bars or dried foods, such as trail mix, and bottled water. Portable radios and cell phones with spare batteries for both are highly desirable. Extra cloths, shoes, gloves, hats and rain gear will be required if it turns colder, you get wet, or you are not dressed for the outdoors, but only for a warm car. A small tool kit that includes, screw drivers, wrenches, pliers, a tire pressure gauge, "bungy cords", duct tape, bailing wire, and a rag can be used for minor roadside repairs. Carry a pencil (or pen) and paper and a brightly colored rag to us a flag.

Before leaving the house, dress warmly in layers of light loose fitting clothing. Run the defroster and heater when warming up the car, which should be driven as soon as possible to avoid damage to engine parts. Allow extra time for the trip and drive an appropriate speed for the road conditions. Keep the gas tank at least half full at all times and full at the start of a longer trip. Keep an empty clean or new gas can with the emergency supplies. Make sure the windows and lights are clear of snow and clean. Use seat belts and car seats that are properly installed in accordance with the manufactures instructions. Do not lean forward in vehicles that have air bag (ABS) systems, but try to give the air bag cover at least 10 inches of clearance to provide sufficient space for deployment. Drive with the lights on and the mirrors properly adjusted. Use proper signals while turning. Keep a safe distance from the car ahead to allow reaction time and proper braking. If driving in the snow, the best steering is in the tracks of the vehicle ahead. If you go into a skid, take your foot off the brake and gas, let the engine slow you down, and steer gently in the direction of the skid, until you regain steering control. If you have standard brakes, pump the brake petal gently until stopped. If you have anti-lock brakes, apply firm and constant pressure on the brake petal-you will feel the brake petal pulsate, which is common. Never jam on the brakes. Remember that 4-wheel drive and Sport Utility Vehicles (SUV') may have higher ground clearance which helps them get going better than other vehicles in heavy snow, but are not immune to winter conditions and have the same basic handling characteristics when braking. Some SUV's have a high center of gravity and are more prone to roll over during sharp turns.

When traveling with trucks, make sure the driver can see you, by driving slightly to the left side where you can see his mirror. Remember that if you can't see his mirror, he can't see you. If you pass a truck, give him a wide berth, and turn up the speed of your windshield wipers if the road is wet or snow covered. If the road is too slippery, you may consider not passing. Do not follow a truck too closely and stay back a safe distance when at a stop light or sign-he may roll back slightly on a hill before he moves forward.

If the visibility gets too bad, pull as far off of the road as possible, and turn on your emergency flashers. If you have a flat tire, need repairs or have damage to the vehicle, never try to fix or survey the problem on the highway, get as far off the road to as safe place as possible, even if it means damage to the tire and rim. If the car is disabled, put out flares or reflective triangles, and if you can't safely effect repairs, call for help and stay in the vehicle for protection from the elements and passing vehicles.

Road rage should be considered during any season of the year. The best way to avoid making other drivers angry and aggressive is to be courteous, content, and considerate. When you merge, always use your turn signals and allow plenty of room. If you are cut off, slow down and give them plenty of room. If you are in the left lane and someone comes up behind, move over to the right, and let them pass. Use your horn seldom, if ever. Do not come up behind other cars with your high beams on, or tail gate. Do not make any gestures, even shaking your head, that might anger another driver. Do not make eye contact with an angry driver and give him plenty of room. It takes two angry drivers to start a fight. Get help if an angry driver is following you and trying to start a fight. Use a cell phone to call police or go to a police station or place where there are people around. Do not get out of your car or go home.

Make your trip to a winter rock show or a visit with friends or relatives during the holiday season enjoyable and safe.

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Eye Safety

by Bill Klose EFMLS Safety Chairman
Submitted for the January 2001 EFMLS News

Most articles on rock hound safety invariably touch on eye safety in some form or another, whether it is protection from the sun on the way to a collecting site, protection from flying particles at a collecting site, or protection from dust, chemicals, or particles while processing the finds back in the shop.

Eye hazards include, particles, mists, vapors, fumes, gases, lazer light and ultraviolet light. At once you can see that not all of these hazards are commonly encountered by most rock hounds, but some will be encountered by all rock hounds.

Safety glasses or spectacles are designed to provide impact protection from flying particles and have heavier frames than normal spectacles and impact resistant lenses, usually of polycarbonate. They can be tinted to protect the eyes from lazer or ultraviolet light. As most particles enter the eyes at an angle it is recommended that they accommodate and are worn with side shields. Safety glasses with prescription corrective lenses are available, even bifocal and "multifocal". Do not use spectacles intended for protection from radiation and glare from the sun indoors where your vision may be impaired by the tinted lenses. Spectacles should be fitted to your eye and bridge size and temple length. The temples should fit comfortably over the eyes. The frame should be close to the face and supported by the bridge of the nose. Keep spectacles clean and clear of scratches. Store your spectacles in a case in a dry, clean place where they will not fall or be stepped on. Scratched or damaged spectacles interfere with vision and do not provide protection. Safety spectacles alone do not provide adequate protection for the eyes from fumes, vapors, liquids and large particles. Safety goggles provide a secure shield around the entire eye area to protect against hazards coming from many different directions and spread the force of impact over a larger area around the eye. Goggles are most effective when worn with safety spectacles and are also provided with impact resistant and tinted lenses. Goggles that are unvented or indirectly vented will provide protection from splash hazards. Goggles can be provided with fog free coatings. Face shields should be worn with safety spectacles and goggles to provide additional protection of the face from sparks, splashes, splatter, and larger particles. Never wear a face shield alone. Face shields are available with protective head gear and chemical hoods. Typical rock hound usage of a face shield would include poring hot liquids, use of acids to clean minerals or fossils, breaking rocks with hand and mechanical equipment, and dressing grinding wheels.

So whatever your pleasure while rock hounding, consider what potential hazards are present and select the appropriate face and eye protection required.

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Frost-bite and Hypothermia

by Bill Klose EFMLS Safety Chairman
Submitted for the February 2001 EFMLS News

My fall fossil collecting was cut short this year by old man winter's early arrival. As in past years I didn't give up easily, and braved out into the cold and wind with the help of wisdom provided in Chapter Sixteen of the AFMS SAFETY MANUAL. It is a little late for the fall, but the late winter and early spring are blessed with some collecting days that have similar wind and cold conditions. The two problems that must be avoided are frost-bite and Hypothermia.

Frost-bite is caused by the cutting off of circulation to and possible destruction of superficial tissues, especially in the extremities (hands, feet, ears, nose) and other exposed areas of the body. The wind (wind chill factor) and moisture can add to the effects of cold temperatures, even when above freezing. Symptoms of frost-bite begin as a prickly feeling on exposed areas of skin followed by numbness and waxy looking patches. In more sever cases these patches get lumpy, redden, blister, and the skin dies and falls off, or gangrene sets in. Sever pain is associated with this condition. At the first signs of frost-bite, dry the affected area and cover with clothing or tuck (hands and feet) into clothing or armpits to prevent further cooling. Do not rub or apply snow to the frost-bitten area. The affected area can be placed in water a little above body temperature (not above l04 degrees F). Do not place hands under running hot water, as there will not be any feeling initially, so they could become burned. As the frost-bitten area "thaws" it is normal to feel pain or a burning sensation. If blisters form, do not break them, protect them with a loose dressing and seek medical attention immediately. The best protection against frost-bite and hypothermia is to keep warm, keep moving, and keep dry. Dress in loose layers of warm, waterproof, and windproof clothing, that cover exposed areas. Warm gloves and a hat are essential. Up to 80% of the bodies warmth can be lost out through an uncovered head. The young and elderly are especially at risk, as are people who have been drinking alcohol, have diabetes or poor circulation. People taking beta blockers to lower blood pressure are especially at risk. It is best to pair up with someone who can watch for signs of frost-bite or hypothermia.

Hypothermia is the loss of body temperature and can be life threatening. The symptoms are initially uncontrollable shivering with pale and numb skin. The person than behaves confused and forgetful, acts tired and wants to sit or lie down. In sever cases, the person will go unconscious, and will have shallow breath and erratic heartbeat, and than the pulse weakens and slows. At the first signs of hypothermia, take the victim to a warm, dry place and give them hot liquids (not alcohol). Prevent further heat loss by blankets, warm rocks, or a companion in bed with the victim. Get medical attention as soon as possible if the symptoms have gone beyond the shivering stage.

If you aren't a cold weather collector, these same precautions apply to any activities performed during cold weather conditions.

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Back Safety

by Bill Klose EFMLS Safety Chairman
Submitted for the March 2001 EFMLS News

As I got into my winter routine of reorganizing my collections, I started to notice a little persistent lower back pain related to the constant lifting and carrying of loaded boxes of rocks and fossils. I have had extensive training in proper lifting techniques in the military and industry, however a review is always enlightening.

Prior to lifting it is a good idea to consider a number of things. How heavy or bulky is the object to be lifted and carried? How good a shape are you in and have you had any back problems in the past after lifting? Many back injuries are of a cumulative type, where a repeated minor injury will flare up and become worse. How much room is there around the object to be lifted and how much room is around where it is to be deposited? What kind of obstacles are there along the transportation route, such as trip hazards, holes, overhangs, etc.? If any of these questions create a concern, or if in doubt, get help or use an aid such as a dolly, hand truck, or even fork lift. Statistics show that 80% of back injuries occur in people between 30 and 50.

Be sure to utilize appropriate safety equipment such as safety shoes and work gloves when lifting. The use of back belts, as seen at some stores and outlets, has not been shown to prevent back injury according to recent studies. Prior to the lift, make sure you have adequate clearance for your hands and arms. Stand close to the load with the feet apart and the toes pointed out to provide firm footing. Bend your knees, not your waist. Grip the load firmly with a "full palm Grip". Do not place your fingers under the load. Tighten your stomach muscles and then lift head and shoulders first, and then with your back straight, use the strength of your legs to slowly and smoothly push up. "Jerk-lifting" a load will multiply the stress to the lower back. Keep the load close to your body at all times with your back upright. Never hold the load away from your body. Make sure you can see over the top of the load. If you should have to change direction with the load, move the whole body with your feet. Do not twist your body which can be especially dangerous to the back. To raise the object above shoulder height, first lift to waist height and rest on the edge of a ledge, hip or stand, and then shift hand positions, so the object can be boosted after the knees are bent. The knees should be straightened as the object is lifted or shifted to the shoulders. If the object is to be placed on a table or shelf, first set it on the edge, and then push it far enough onto the support so it will not fall. The object should be released gradually as it is set down and then pushed into place with the hands and body in front of the object. When setting the object down, keep the back straight and upright, bend the knees, and lower the object down slowly and smoothly. Don't add the weight of your body to the load.

Lift safe and stay healthy in 2001.

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Ear Safety

by Bill Klose EFMLS Safety Chairman
Submitted for the April 2001 EFMLS News

Hearing loss affects about 28 million people in the U. S., about 10 million of these people received this damage, in part, as a result of exposure to loud noises. More than 20 million Americans are exposed to hazardous levels of noise on a regular basis that could result in noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). Occupational noise exposure is the most common cause of NIHL, but non occupational exposure, such as live or recorded high volume music, airplanes, automobiles and recreational vehicles, household tools and some appliances, are also major contributors to NIHL. Very loud sounds of short duration, such as an explosion, gunfire, or loud banging, can produce immediate, severe, and permanent loss of hearing. Longer exposure to less intense levels of sound over time, exacts a gradual toll on hearing, initially without the person's awareness. The louder the level of noise, and the longer the duration of exposure, the greater the potential for damage. How can we protect ourselves from this hazard? The best method is to eliminate or reduce the level of intensity of the noise source and the time of exposure. The next best prevention method is to wear hearing protection in the form of ear plugs (disposable or fitted) or ear muffs when exposed to noise. Rock hounds are most commonly exposed to noise while in automobiles or recreational vehicles on the way to collecting sites. Some collecting sites contain industrial equipment and vehicles that can generate considerable amounts of noise. When at these sites it is best to wear the same level of protection that the workers at the site are wearing, as the employer has determined the level of protection required for his employees. Rock hounds also use hammers and even large portable gasoline engine powered diamond saws at collecting sites to recover specimens, and should protect their hearing with ear plugs and or ear muffs. Back in the shop, all rotating equipment, such as diamond saws, grinding wheels, rock hammers, hydraulic rock trimmers, etc., contribute to the noise level. Consider wearing ear plugs or muffs to prevent NIHL.

Reduce the effects of noise and enjoy collecting in 2001.

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Vehicle Safety

by Bill Klose EFMLS Safety Chairman
Submitted for the May 2001 EFMLS News

The winter weather is now behind us in most areas of the United States, so the rock hounds heart turns to the field trip and warm weather show schedule. Both of these activities require the use of the family pack mule, the automobile. In order to arrive safely we must prepare the "family truckster" for the trip and then "pilot" it there safely. Prior to leaving on a trip, make sure your vehicle is in good mechanical condition. Make sure the engine is in good condition after the winter and that the breaks are in excellent condition. This may require a tune up and brake adjustment or replacement. Check the tires for wear and proper air pressure, including the spare tire or "donut". If the tires show wear, rotate them, or replace them. A wheel alignment may be prudent, if it appears that misalignment is the cause of uneven tire wear. If you are going to be traveling over long distances with out services or on rural roads, especially rutted dirt roads, it may be advisable to replace the "donut" with a full size tire. This will provide the ability to reach services that are farther away then the recommended range and speed for the "donut" and provide clearance for the vehicles body on rutted roads, especially with the loads we rock hounds are known to carry. The tires should always be fully inflated. Soft tires provide a smoother ride but will heat up and may fail in the hot summer weather. Make sure your windshield wipers are in good condition and the inside and outside of the windshield and other windows are clean. Adjust the seat headrests to the level of your ears, not to the lower area of your head or the curvature of the neck. Make sure your headlights are properly adjusted and clean. Adjust your mirrors so as to reduce the "blind zone". It may be advisable to replace the inside rear view mirror with a wider type to improve rearward visibility. Avoid buying vehicles with dark tinted windows, which can impair visibility. Ensure that the seat belts and children's safety seats are in good condition and properly installed. An oil change and lube will improve engine performance and mileage after the winter driving. Check the supplies in the trunk for bottled water, a tire iron with the lug nut key, if anti-theft lug nuts are installed on your vehicle, flashlight, emergency flasher or triangle and blanket. Extra break fluid, engine oil, windshield wiper fluid, and transmission fluid are recommended, as is an emergency tool kit and first aid kit. Make sure your cell phone is in good working order and it's battery is fully charged and a spare cell phone battery is in the vehicle, especially if relying on the vehicle for power, which would not be available in case of a vehicle battery failure or wiring problem.

Plan your trip before heading out, so you can concentrate on driving and not navigating. Have the maps and guides available in the vehicle and have someone else familiar with them to aid with navigation should the need arise. Make reservations in advance and plan the trip, so each days activities will not exhaust the driver. Provide for frequent stops to rest the driver and if possible share the driving responsibilities. AARP recommends that "if you are planing to take an unfamiliar route at night, try making a trial run during daylight". Avoid driving in heavily traveled or high speed areas during rush hour and bad weather. Make sure that your prescription glasses are current and that you have both clear and dark glasses with you before you leave. Carry something to eat, like energy bars, in case you are marooned alongside an isolated highway for a period of time.

Once you are on the road, keep a safe distance (three second rule) behind the vehicle in front of you. If you are going to change lanes, signal way in advance and look in the inside and outside rear view mirrors and over your shoulder before making your move, to avoid not seeing a vehicle in the "blind area" in the rear quarter area of your vehicle. When passing, provide adequate space and use your turn signals prior to pulling back over into the travel lane. Do not travel in the passing lane. Do not talk on the cell phone, eat, or engage in any other activity while driving that will distract your attention or keep you from having both hands on the steering wheel. Use your headlights one half hour before sunset until one half hour after sunrise and whenever there is poor visibility or rain. Keep the radio volume down and be alert for emergency vehicles flashing lights and audio warnings. Use your safety belts and stay at least ten inches from the vehicles air bags. If your vehicle should have a flat tire or other casualty, get as far off the pavement as possible and put out a flare, flasher or emergency triangle, so others can see you. It is better to drive a short ways on a flat to get the vehicle out of traffic danger. If it is not safe to change the tire or repair the vehicle yourself, call for help. Do not encourage road rage by making jesters, looking at other drivers, or exhibiting aggressive driving habits. If you should be pursued by an another driver, proceed to a populated area, preferably a police station. Do not go to your home and do not get out of your vehicle. Always be alert for the unexpected.

With all these do's and don'ts, get out there and enjoy the warm weather. See you all safely at the EFMLS show in Syracuse.

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Field Trip Safety

by Bill Klose EFMLS Safety Chairman
Submitted for the June 2001 EFMLS News

"SAFETY RULES FOR FIELD TRIPS" were expertly laid out for us decades ago in Chapter One of the "AFMS SAFETY MANUAL". As the field trip season gets underway, it behooves us all to review the 17 items listed. I have repeated these rules as written and added a few comments within or after a few in brackets.

1-- Never go on a Field Trip alone. Have some one along who can help, or summon help if necessary. <Make sure someone knows where you went and when to expect you back. Carry a cell phone to expedite communications.>

2-- Should there be children, have the child within seeing and talking distance. A child not only could get lost, but could encounter a snake, scorpion, etc., or have an accident of some sort.

3-- Do not collect directly above or underneath people where there might be danger of falling rock.

4-- Park so that all cars can get out. Do not block the roadway.

5-- Should you leave the Field Trip early, notify the person in charge.

6-- Make sure all fires are out and wet down with water or smothered with dirt completely.

7-- Break all matches in fingers before discarding, and be careful where they are thrown.

8-- Break any cigarette before discarding and then crush it on the bare ground.

9-- Do not throw rocks, and do not allow children to do so.

10-- Avoid old mine tunnels. Never go into a mine alone. Carry a flashlight and a candle. Carbon dioxide or other gasses may be present. There may even be a lack of oxygen. <Mines are also havens for snakes, scorpions, spiders, rodents and there feces, etc.. Mines also may have uncovered deep shafts and pits.>

11-- Respect property rights and signs. Obtain permission to enter property if owned by private persons or company owned. <Attend Company safety briefings and sign releases if required. Pay attention to and practice Company safety policys.>

A-- Inquire if there are vicious animals in the fields.

B-- Never walk <or drive RV's like 4 wheelers> on newly planted or cultivated fields without special permission.

C-- Be extremely cautious in hunting near abandoned buildings. You may stumble into a deep well <or cesspool> not properly covered.

D-- Refill any deep hole you dig, so people or animals might not fall in. <Do not dump dirt and other debris into streams.>

12-- Respect another's diggings. If a person has left for lunch or for any reason with the intention of returning, and has left a pick, coat, or definite marker, find another place.

13-- Leave any place in good condition. Don't leave papers, cans, etc., lying around to mar the beauty of the place, and to tell others you have been there.

14-- Close all gates you may have opened.

15-- Never eat wild berries <or anything else> unless you are absolutely sure they are safe. <Carry bottled water and do not drink from streams or wells that have not been recently tested.>

16-- Be able to recognize Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, etc. Should there be any doubt, don't touch!

17-- Always be alert for snakes, scorpions, <ticks, spiders, rodent infestations> etc. Be very cautious where you put your feet and hands.

As you can see, a lot of hard gained practical experience has been incorporated into these safety rules. To these I would add the following rules.

Do not over exert or stay in the direct sunlight or heat too long. Take a rest in the shade from time to time and drink plenty of fluids.

Properly wear appropriate safety equipment, sunscreen, and clothing.

Bring and use the appropriate well maintained and inspected tools. Don't expect others to provide tools for you.

Have your vehicle in proper working order with appropriate emergency supplies and equipment.

Use proper lifting and carrying techniques to bring home your finds. Do not overload your vehicle.

Many of these safety rules are covered in greater detail in other chapters of the AFMS Safety Manual and on the AFMS web site. Have a safe field trip season and see you all at the EFMLS gatherings at the Syracuse Show this summer.

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Lapidary Safety

by Bill Klose EFMLS Safety Chairman
Submitted for the September 2001 EFMLS News

"LAPIDARY SAFETY" is the substance of Chapter Twelve of the AFMS "SAFETY MANUAL" and provides a good review for the indoor activities that follow a good summer of field collecting. I am going to repeat the wisdom laid out in this chapter as written, with a few of my comments in brackets where appropriate.

In "Lapidary" one may be subject to many conditions, some of which are potentially harmful. Some of the agents used, are caustic or poisonous. The following safety rules, if followed, will lessen the risk of possible harm or injury.

1-- Protect your eyes when chipping or grinding rocks. "WEAR PROTECTIVE GLASSES". (Goggles and safety shields provide additional protection from caustic liquids and large flying chips and should be worn over safety glasses when the situation warrants it. What you are currently grinding may not be caustic, but what was used in the equipment previously and may still be in the water?)

2-- Run your grinding wheels no faster than the speed recommended by the Manufacture. (If you are unsure, run the wheel no faster than 2500 sfpm (surface feet per minute). Polishing and buffing wheels are operated at a speed of 3,000 to 7,000 sfpm with 4,000 sfpm a good speed for most purposes.)

3-- Do not let your wheel become water logged. Keep it running until all water has been thrown out; otherwise, it will cause a heavy spot and make your wheel out of balance. (Do not turn on cooling water until the wheel is up to speed. Out of balance wheels could cause the wheel to disintegrate upon starting. The floor in front of grinder or polishing machine should be of rough cement or a non slip rubber mat to prevent falls on the wet surface.)

4-- Keep your wheel true. It will wear longer and there will be less chance of its parting while in use. (Grinding work should be done near the center plane of the wheel and moved back and forth across the face of the wheel to produce even wear. Do not force the work and take too heavy of a cut. Wear appropriate eye, hand, and body protection when using dressing tools. Follow the manufacturers instructions for the dressing tool being used. Only the periphery or circumference of standard grinding wheels are designed for grinding-never grind on the sides of a grinding wheel. We have all done it! Insure the work rest and peripheral guard are properly installed and only adjust them when the equipment is not running.)

5-- Keep all belt pulleys and belts covered. It may save a finger.

6-- Use dop sticks whenever possible. It may save a badly cut finger. (Small pieces may also be placed in a simple jig or fixture.)

7-- A word of "warning" to those individuals who use "dry sanding" of their cabachons. Silicosis is a serious disease which is caused by the inhalation of fine silica dust. Use a dust mask or suction blower, or change to wet sanding. "Silicosis cannot be cured". (It may be prudent to wear a chemical mask if wet sanding and the cooling water is being reused and could have dangerous compounds dissolved in it from the materials that are being or have been sanded.)

8-- Be careful with your alcohol lamp. It could cause a fire.

9-- Keep all containers properly labeled. Putting polishing powders in baking powder cans, for instance, without a proper label, can be dangerous. "(Had the Linde A Powder my hired lady used, been Tin Oxide, it could have been serious. As it was, she couldn't figure out why the cake didn't raise!)".

10-- The use of Oxalic Acid, when properly used, greatly facilitates the polishing of agates. Oxalic Acid is caustic to the skin, as well as a frank poison, if accidentally ingested or inhaled. Also getting some in the eyes from the spray from the polishing wheels, may cause a burn of the cornea, resulting in impaired eyesight. When using this acid, proper precautions must be taken.

A--It is advisable to apply the polish to the wheel, with a brush. (This is good practice for all polishing compounds, not just acid.)

B--Wear protective glasses. (Drip proof or mist proof Goggles over the glasses provide additional protection.)

C--It may be advisable, under certain circumstances, to wear protective gloves. (A rubber apron will protect clothing and underlying skin.)

D--Immediately wash any contact areas of the shin, with soap and water. Medical attention may be advisable.

11-- Sulfuric Acid and Nitric Acid are sometimes mixed with polishing compounds when faceting sapphire. They are also used in the polishing of sapphire cabachons on lead laps. These acids are severe caustics and will cause severe burns if they come in contact with the skin or eyes. In using the techniques above, one must use the utmost precautions. Any contaminated areas must immediately be washed with soap and water. If any gets in the eyes, thoroughly irrigate with water, and seek medical attention. The application of a baking-soda pack is often advisable, or the sponging with a solution of baking soda in water, to the burned area.

12-- The polishing compounds we use today are, as a rule, relatively non-toxic, except to some individual(s). The use of detergents added to the polishing powders, can cause a dermatitis of the hands. This can be eliminated if the offending substance is eliminated. (The uses of masks, goggles, face shields, gloves, and rubber aprons, can also reduce the risk of dermatitis.)

13-- The use of epoxy Resins are very irritating to the skin, and severe cases of dermatitis have resulted. This can easily be prevented by not getting the hands in actual content with the resins. Acetone will remove this, if you should get some resin on the skin.

14-- The various cutting oils used in the diamond saws, are primary irritants to the skin, and will, in many individuals, produce a dermatitis. Also, the fire hazard, in the use of certain cutting oils, must be realized and proper precautions taken.

15-- (This paragraph deals with silver-soldering and should be the subject of it's own safety article).

16-- Do not overload outlets. If in doubt, have the circuits checked by an electrician.

17-- Keep switches and motors in a dry place, where the water from grinding will not splash on them. (The shut off switch or plug should be within reach of the operator. Stand to the side of a grinding machine when starting up and allow at least one minute of warm up time before starting to grind.)

18-- Be sure to have all motors and outlets grounded. In case of faulty wiring or short circuit, the ground will absorb the shock-"not you". Standing on a rubber mat will give some protection. Electric shocks can cause death! (Circuit Breakers or Ground Fault (GFI) Circuit Breakers are highly recommended over plug fuses. A wet rubber mat will only give you a false sense of security. Water is an electrical conductor!)

19-- Suspicious wires lying on the floor or ground, should be avoided--at home or on field trips. They may be harmless, but if they are not, "beware".

20-- When a person suffers electric shock, it is important to use a stick or other object to separate him from the source before beginning resuscitation. (Shutting off the power source, if known, will also decrease the hazard to all concerned.)


Too all this I would also add, use proper lifting techniques when hauling all that "good stuff" into the lapidary. It has been suggested at EFMLS annual meetings, that hazardous minerals would be a good topic. After investigating the potential topic I have come to the conclusion we should treat all minerals with respect and protect ourselves accordingly. It is better to always practice safety around all minerals than let down our guard when a hazard is present that we may not be aware of. Do you really always know what you are licking or grinding?

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Fire Hazard Safety

by Bill Klose EFMLS Safety Chairman
Submitted for the October 2001 EFMLS News

The heat of the summer is starting to fade in most locations that rock hounds like to frequent, but that same heat has left dry conditions behind. Take heed of the hazards of the fall forest and grass fire season as you pursue the last collecting days of the year. Chapter Eight of the AFMS "SAFETY MANUAL" deals with "Fire Hazard" and will be repeated here with a few of my comments in brackets where appropriate.

At the approach of summer (and fall and early winter) camping season, all campers should be reminded about the use of fire on the timber and range lands. Most forest fires and range fires, are caused by carelessness; a few are caused by lightening, and some can be caused by glass contains, containing clear liquids, and bright bent cans acting as a magnifying glass, or magnifying mirror--focusing the sun's rays on combustible material. (Northern Forest Fire Laboratory, Missoula, Montana).

Always build fires in prescribed areas if present, and if not, clear an area of leaves, grass, and branches, and make a protective rock ring around the fire area. (Check the local papers, radio stations, and fire rangers or stations where you are camping to see if an outside burning ban is in effect before starting a camp fire. In very dry conditions, even the underground roots may present a fire hazard, which will allow a campfire to spread. A number of recent forest and brush fires in the Northeastern U. S. have been started by campfires and trash fires spreading into the dry roots in the ground under them and then to the surrounding woods. Do not start a fire in an old strip coal mine where the coal vein may be exposed just under the surface or the old pit has been used as a land fill full of combustibles. Several very serious underground coal mine fires have been started this way.) Never leave a fire burning! Put it out! Use water if possible, then cover with earth. Never throw away a burning match until it is completely out and cold. If you smoke, be sure the "butt" is out before throwing it away. Always grind it into the earth, to make sure. (For filter tips, break down the paper and tobacco end and grind it into the earth and take the filter tip with you in your trash bag.)

Remember--glass containers containing clear liquids, and cans in the open, can act as a magnifying glass or mirror, and if in the sun, can start fires by focusing the sun's rays, on pine needles, punky wood, or range grass.

Keep a clean camp! Help eliminate litter, Please, and Help Prevent Forest Fires!

The California agency says investigations have identified auto exhaust catalytic converters as the cause of grass fires in six locations. According to a fire prevention engineer on the Division Staff, the converters emit gasses at about 725 degrees Fahrenheit - some 275 degrees hotter than those (that used to come) from conventional auto exhaust systems.

Dry grass ignites at 525 degrees under summer conditions; accordingly drivers of late model cars and trucks should be wary when they drive through grassy fields-- and doubly so, when stopped, with their engines running. (Boulder Gazette via AFMS Newsletter.)

(If you should cause a fire or find one spreading, call for help spread the word to others in the area and then attempt to prevent it's spread. If it has spread over too wide an area or can not be contained, evacuate the area and let the professionals handle the fire. Do not become cut off and isolated where the fire, and or smoke, can overcome you.)

With all this in mind, have a great, safe fall and early winter collecting season, free from fires.

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Cold Weather Safety

by Bill Klose EFMLS Safety Chairman
Submitted for the November 2001 EFMLS News

SAFETY FIRST by Bill Klose, EFMLS Safety Chairperson

By the end of November, most areas will have had their first frost and "Indian Summer" and maybe even their first snow storm of the season, but the undaunted rockhound will continue to venture out until the ground is frozen or snow covered. Chapter 16 of the "American Federation of Mineralogical Societies SAFETY MANUAL" deals with two of winters knockout punches, frost bite and hypothermia and will be repeated here with a few of my comments in brackets where appropriate.


"Frost bit" is a condition characterized by the (cutting off of circulation to and possible) destruction of superficial tissues, resulting from exposure to cold-- especially moist cold (Especially in the extremities, such as hands, feet, ears, nose, and other exposed areas of the body). (The Wind (wind chill factor) can add to the effects of cold temperatures, even when above freezing.) (Symptoms of frost bite begin as a prickly feeling on exposed areas of the skin followed by numbness and waxy looking patches.) Blanching or redness (erthema) of the affected area is prominent initially. Later, edema and superficial blisters develop and may brake down and form superficial ulcers (and the skin dies and falls off) or gangrene. Severe pain is associated with this condition.

"TREATMENT": Prevention is more important by keeping warm and avoiding undue exposure to cold without adequate protection. (The best protection is to keep warm, keep moving, and keep dry. Dress in loose layers of warm, waterproof clothing, that cover exposed areas. Warm gloves and a hat are essential. Up to 80% of the bodies warmth can be lost through an uncovered head.)

"ACTIVE TREATMENT": The affected parts are to be well dried and wrapped in protective cloth or cotton, (or tuck the hands into the armpits) and allowed to gradually come up to normal or room temperature. Application of heat or direct cold is contraindicated. (Do not rub or apply snow to the frost-bitten area. The affected area can be placed in water a little above body temperature (not above 104 degrees F). Do not place hands under running water, as there will not be any feeling initially, so they could become burned. As the frost-bitten area "thaws" it is normal to feel pain or a burning sensation.) If blister formation results (do not break them), or frost bite is severe, medical attention should be sought.


"MOUNTAIN SICKNESS": Exposure to cold is the precipitating factor. The main contributory factors may be contact with wetness or inadequate clothing. Predisposing factors may be alcoholism, or an underlying vascular or systemic disease (such as Diabetes or poor circulation. People taking beta blockers to lower blood pressure are especially at risk). The young and the old are especially vulnerable.

"SYMPTOMS" (The symptoms are initially uncontrollable shivering with pale and numb skin) Abnormal behavior, weakness, stumbling and falling, leading eventually to collapse and stupor. (Hypothermia is the loss of body temperature and can be life threatening.) (In severe cases, the person will go unconscious, and will have shallow breath and erratic heartbeat, and then the pulse weakens and slows.) "Watch your companion" on field trips!

"TREATMENT": (At the first signs of hypothermia, take the victim to a warm, dry place and give them hot liquids (not alcohol).) Clear and maintain airway, if patient is unconscious. Prevent further heat loss by blankets, warm rocks, or a companion in bed with the victim. A slow return to normal temperature, is advisable. (Get medical attention as soon as possible if the symptoms have gone beyond the shivering stage.)

(Do not collect alone in cold weather and carry a cell phone with you if possible for emergencies. Let someone know where you are going and when you will return. Enjoy your cold weather collecting or other activities safely.)

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