I went out for dinner last night to celebrate my husband’s birthday with his parents. During the meal, we were discussing GRIT (what else is there to even talk about?!) and the topic of woodworking injuries came up. It seems that every woodworker I’ve ever met has a story about a terrifying injury in the shop, either personal or involving a fellow woodworker, or a story of a humbling near-miss. My father-in-law shared a story from his middle school shop days, and proceeded to show that his middle finger was indeed slightly shorter and less rounded on his left hand.
Although GRIT Automation may emphasize technology and flashy features, our primary mission is safety. In fact, the reason behind the creation of our products can be traced back to a near-miss incident in a home shop in central Illinois, which deeply humbled our owner and his 5-year-old son. Safety remains our driving force as we continue to provide our products to home shops, educational makerspaces, and commercial facilities.
After my father-in-law finished his story, he remarked, “but GRIT couldn’t have prevented that.” And it got me thinking about safeguards, accountability, and what truly creates a safer environment for students in woodshops and makerspaces.
Could GRIT have re-installed the safety guard that drops before the blade comes down? No.
However, is a shop that values safety to such an extent that they lock all tools, prohibit use of tools before students have been properly trained, and track individual users’ tool use and training less likely to have a tool with safety measures removed or a shop manager that would allow such hazardous tool usage? Absolutely.
Establishing an environment that values safety, employs various safety measures, and enforces accountability involves implementing multiple layers of actions focused on safety. By eliminating the reliance on “the honor system” and reducing the need for constant supervision or additional staff to monitor students, we can create a safety net that allows more time for teaching and fulfills our moral obligation to protect students in educational shops.