Soldering presents a three fold safety risk. The metals used in solder are toxic, the fumes are toxic, and the solder and soldering iron are hot enough to burn flesh instantly.
Use the following rules for safe soldering:
Use safer products.
Substitute Lead free solder for leaded solder when possible. Lead is now banned from products in the EU and California.
Never touch the element or tip
of the soldering iron.
They are very hot (about 400°C) and will give you a nasty burn.
Wear eye protection, either a face shield or safety
Avoid wearing contact lenses, the fumes can get under the lenses and cause severe irritation.
Other protective clothing.
Legs, arms, torso, and feet should be covered to avoid burns from splashed hot solder.
Work in a well-ventilated area.
The smoke formed as you melt solder is mostly from the flux and quite irritating. Exhale as you make each connection, blowing the fumes away from yourself. Use a fume extraction device such as the Weller ESD Benchtop Smoke Absorber.
Hygienic work practices.
Wash hands thoroughly after soldering. No eating or smoking while soldering.
Other protective measures.
When cutting off leads make sure they are held such that they can not fly away.
Use pliers or vice to hold work in order to avoid burns from objects that are heated.
Always return the soldering iron to its stand when not in
Never put it down on the workbench.
Never leave the soldering iron plugged in and unattended.
Solder on a fire resistant surface. Keep flammable liquids and materials away from work area.
Never solder on a live circuit.
Kester Solder's Material Safety Data Sheet.
The Electronics Club. http://www.kpsec.freeuk.com/solder.htm