Safety. For some reason safety in the wargaming hobby is something being talked about quite rarely, which is strange. Strange because in our hobby we constantly have contact with different tools and a wide variety of potentially harmful materials: scalpels, cutters, spray cans and airbrush, dust from sanding, a huge variety of chemicals and lots more.
I often get chills on my spine when i watch videos or read blogs about our hobby and see, how people handle things. Most people seem to shrug that off with no second thought. Maybe they just do not know or underestimate, maybe they know but do not care. Reason enough to make a difference and point some things out i guess. A spotlight on safety in the wargaming hobby.
As a starter and disclaimer: please keep in mind i am not a doctor, chemist, lawyer or the like. I am a user just like you and only giving my personal experience and oppinion here. This list is not exhaustive, i’m for sure not aware of anything, i might be wrong on things… in short: understand it as food for thought, not a professional list. You are an adult probably and responsible for yourself. If you are a minor, your parents are responsible for you. Please ask them for advice.
Okay, then just let us dive in:
- Use safety glasses whenever cutting (blades can snap and they flinge quite well, telling from experience) or drilling, especially when drilling metal parts (those fragments produced can be really nasty, again telling from experience). You also really want to protect your eyes whenever working with super glue. If you ever had a miniature superglued to your fingers, you are already aware of how nasty this stuff is.
- Use gloves. Even if colors are water based. It does not mean colors do not contain harmful substances which can possibly be absorbed by the skin. Gloves advice especially goes for epoxy putty. This stuff isn’t harmless play dough. Also gloves are made from different materials and are not suitable for all uses. I personally do not work with epoxy at all, but from all i read, substances from epoxy just go through some kinds of gloves. If in doubt, email some glove manufacturers and ask for advice. Also: super glue again. Simply use gloves.
- When working with sharp or pointed tools, work away from your body and do not use excessive force. If in doubt, use a vise and/or safety gloves.
- Do not eat, drink or smoke while working with miniatures, paint and so on. Well, please don’t smoke at all while we are at it. You might have dust or substances on you fingers or splashes might end up on your cup. Remember that blades that might snap i mentioned above? It does not combine well with that piece of pizza next to your working place. Most of the things tho might not harm you immediately and on the first contact, but accumulate over time. A range of substances never leave the human body again once they are in. Over the years they will add up and definitely harm.
- Maybe the most important advice: wear a suitable face mask. Really. Also note the word “suitable” here: when using spray paint from a can for example, FFP1/2/3 masks probably will filter some or maybe most of the particles. But you will still be completely unprotected from all the toxic fumes. Also always wear a mask when you mechanically work on things, this especially goes for sanding metal alloys, plastics, epoxy, polystyrol foams (EPS/XPS and the like) and similar. As far as i know, dust from sanding these can be horribly harmful. Check the manufacturers (both material and masks) websites for safety advice and recommendations.
- In general, when working with things producing dust, fumes, particles: work outside if possible or at least in a well ventilated area and with suitable safety.
- Remember chemical substances like to react with each other, not everything should be put or mixed together.
- Think of your kids and pets. They tend to crawl or lay where you work. They also tend to chew on anything they can get hold of with no questions asked. Preferrably when you do not watch.
- Be tidy: keep your workplace clean at all times, especially because of dust and sharp fragments. Also wash your hands regularly, when taking a break or calling it a day. After sanding, you might want to take shower and change clothes.
- Use common sense and better be safe than sorry.
This list will most likely grow over time. If you are interested in this topic, it might be worth to pay a visit every now and then. I am particulary happy to hear your thought on this via either the comments box below or a simple plain mail.
Hope my thoughts about safety in wargaming hobby shed some light on critical issues and will help to protect your health.
Stay safe and have fun