Natural materials such as rock, stone, wood, and minerals can be used for various purposes, such as making pigments, sculptures, pottery, and building materials. However, processing these materials can pose health and safety risks if not done properly. Here are four vital tips to keep in mind when working with natural materials.
1. Learn About the Materials and Their Hazards
Before collecting or processing any natural material, you should research its composition, properties, and potential hazards. Some materials may contain toxic or harmful substances affecting your skin, eyes, respiratory system, or internal organs. For example, some rocks and minerals may contain asbestos, silica, lead, mercury, or radioactive elements that can cause serious health problems if inhaled or ingested. You can use online sources to check the chemical formula and hazard sheets of the materials you are interested in. You can also look at similar materials sold by paint manufacturers or other suppliers and read their safety data sheets.
2. Wear Appropriate Protective Equipment
When processing natural materials, you should always wear suitable protective equipment to prevent exposure to dust, particles, vapors, or liquids released during the process. Depending on the type and amount of material you are working with, you may need to wear gloves, goggles, masks, respirators, aprons, or lab coats. You should also avoid wearing loose clothing or jewelry that may get caught in your machinery or tools. Additionally, you should work in a well-ventilated area or use a fume hood or extractor fan to remove any harmful fumes or gases that may be generated.
3. Handle and Store the Materials Safely
After processing the natural materials, you should handle and store them carefully to avoid accidents or contamination. You should label the containers or bags with the name and hazard information of the material and keep them in a dry and cool place away from heat sources or direct sunlight. You should also dispose of any waste material properly according to local regulations and avoid mixing different materials that may react with each other. Furthermore, you should wash your hands thoroughly after handling the materials and avoid eating or drinking in the work area.
4. Follow the Best Practices for Processing Different Types of Materials
Natural materials may require different processing methods depending on their physical and chemical characteristics. For example, some materials may need to be crushed, ground, sieved, washed, dried, heated, or chemically treated to obtain the desired form and quality. You should follow the best practices for processing each type of material according to its specific requirements and limitations. You can find useful tips and guidelines on processing natural materials online or from experienced professionals. The processing equipment you will need depends on the location and type of natural resource so it’s important to do your research ahead of time so you are prepared
Processing natural materials can be rewarding and creative, but it also requires caution and knowledge. By following these four vital safety tips, you can reduce the risks of injury or illness and enjoy working with natural materials safely and responsibly.