How many deck builders know that sanding dust can spontaneously ignite? And how many read safety instructions?

I took NADRA’s courses, in Baltimore, to become a Certified Master Deck Builder the first year they were offered. So I was the only person in Illinois who was certified when a lawyer came looking for a deck expert.

I was hired as an expert witness regarding deck-maintenance safety. Someone had sanded a deck and left the sanding dust in a plastic bag on the deck overnight. The deck was in the backyard, attached to the house. During the night, the sanding dust caught fire and severely damaged an expensive house.

Safe disposal of sanding dust requires placement in a metal container. Water should then be added before a lid is sealed on. Empty stain cans from a previous job are ideal for this task. Failure to follow these steps caused $640,000 in damage to this suburban house.

I’ve known for 30 years that all waste from deck refinishing is potentially hazardous, but I admit that before this trial experience I’ve often tossed the instructions that come with new tools, assuming that I already know what they say. No more! Now I read instructions because this is the best way to become aware of potential problems.

Being a master deck builder involves more than just building to code. A deck builder needs to know safe practices for each tool in his truck. For the welfare of our employees and customers, we need to know and follow safe practices.

Don Alan Chicago, Ill.