Safety in the Shop


Emily VanGundy

Woods and Metals separated for safety.

Emily VanGundy, Academic Beat Writer

Last year towards the end of the second semester, Fossil Ridge High School was surprised by yet another fire. The dust collector in the wood shop had gone up into flames during first period. Because of this fire, the entire woods and metals department was inaccessible for the rest of the semester. 

Kyle Taylor, one of the woods teachers here at Fossil, looks at this traumatic event in two ways—the short term effect and the long term effect. He states, “the short term impact was hugely negative, we closed down shop for a month, and it negatively impacted students because of the loss of experience for them to finish out the semester.” He views the long term effect in a very different way, “long term made things much better because it brought attention to issues that we didn’t know we had with process and with the way things are set up.” 

The shop had lots of safety issues that they did not realize until the fire occurred. For example, unreliable dust collectors and super cluttered areas where it was hard for students to work were called to their attention. Realizing these issues and having to remodel anyways, they moved things around in the shop. They got rid of unneeded things that were taking up space, opened up the floor for students to work, got new dust collectors, and divided the shop in half: for metals and woods.

New dust collectors in wood shop.

Enforcing safety rules in the wood shop is very crucial for the safety of students and teachers. The woods and metals department has always done a good job with having safety rules and enforcing them. When the fire happened, they had to reiterate their rules for the next semester, making sure that they can prevent a fire from happening and keep students safe again if it does. Taylor states, “the fire in the dust collector was a freak accident. But because of it, students can better react in the event of a fire because it is something that they’ve lived through, and something we teachers have lived through.”