Nothing is more important than safety while working on your classic car restoration project. Injuries are not only painful, but can put projects on indefinite "hold." Here are some guidelines to keep your restoration project safe. There is no safety device more important than safety glasses! Wear them, or at least wear plastic-lens eyeglasses that shield a large portion of your eyes.
Practice the 7 P's (Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance)
In all likelihood your shop is a garage that has a concrete floor. While bare concrete is just fine, some people paint their floors with concrete-adhering materials. Doing so makes cleanup of oily residue easier. Whether you have a painted surface or not, wipe up oil and fluid spills right away to avoid slipping. If you fall in your garage you're bound to hit something hard. Also, make sure your garage is properly lit and ventilated. Flourescent shop lamps are cheap and economical to run. If the shop is well insulated, put in an exhaust fan to pull out solvent, paint and gasoline fumes as well as dust.
Before using any tools on your classic car restoration project, be sure that you know how to use them and be familiar with their safety features. More importantly, use your imagination to think about the possible ways a tool might harm you and take steps to guard against doing so. Tens of thousands go to emergency rooms each year with injuries sustained from nail guns, grinding wheels, wire brushes, power saws and torch/welder burns. Jack stands must be heavy-duty. Don't buy pressed-metal stands at discount parts stores. Over the years these stands have collapsed under heavy vehicles hundreds of times, injuring (and sometimes killing) many people.
There's an old saying, "People don't cut themselves with sharp knives, only dull ones." This is very true and extends beyond knives to screwdriver blades, chisels, saw blades, etc. Keeping these items sharp and properly shaped will prevent lots of injuries. Keep a first-aid kit nearby that contains bandages, antiseptic and tape. Also, it's a good idea to run a phone line into your shop or keep a cellular or portable phone with you.
When working with long sleeves keep them buttoned at the wrists or rolled up on the arm. Loose sleeve ends have an uncanny way of finding spinning objects (fans, grinding wheels, wire brush wheels, etc.) to wrap around. Don't work around the shop in shorts. It's the easiest way to get severely cut. Also, don't work in bare feet, or you can be certain to drop something heavy.
Work gloves and latex (medical exam) gloves are cheap and plentiful. Wear them to protect your hands from solvents, greases and hot items.
Gasoline, solvents, paints and torches or welders always present a fire danger. Keep a working fire extinquisher (or two) in the shop at all times. Also, if you have a garden hose reel (usually kept in the garage), turn on the water supply when working in the shop. It will come in handy if a fire starts.