Top 4 Safety Tips When Sanding and Polishing Timber Floors

Personal safety precautions should be taken into consideration when using industrial floor sanding machinery and coatings with potentially toxic fumes. The correct protection will vary depending on the various stages associated with the sanding and coating processes.

1. Safety glasses and dust mask

Your first task will involve the punching of the nails. Safety glasses are a must as small shards of steel can become projectiles from nail heads or from the striking of the hammer to the punch head. Most of the dust is collected by the machine although very fine particles will be airborne during the sanding process.

2. Dust fire hazard

Take care when storing sawdust in plastic bags leading up to disposal as they may start to combust. The main cause I have encountered is when the drum machine has sanded over the top of a nail head creating a spark. This spark along with the sawdust and air suction during dust collection leads to the dust starting to smoulder.

3. Toxic coatings hazard

Common floor coating formulations used today include both one and two pack water or solvent based polyurethane coatings. Among other health issues, exposure to these coatings can have both short and long term effects on the respiratory system, the skin and eyes. Always wear a chemical respirator when applying these coatings. To ensure a tight seal between your face and the mask it is beneficial to be clean shaven and ensure it is adjusted correctly.

As these coatings are generally highly flammable it is advisable to ensure the evaporating vapours do not come in contact with any source of ignition. Apart from the obvious – no smoking or open flames in the vicinity, caution should be taken when coating near refrigerators. Old fridges can create a spark when the motor starts and should be removed from the area prior to coating. Gas water heater pilot lights are another danger to be aware of.

4. Risk of electric shock

As all floor sanding machinery have metal bodies, it is good advice to use a safety box between the sanding machine and the power outlet at the wall. I have personally sanded into a number of extension leads over the years exposing the raw wires, and with the drum spinning at such high revolutions it is easy to do if you are not constantly vigilant while concentrating on sanding the floor in front of you.