Welcome Jellis! :wave:
I commend you for your wisdom in wanting to start out cautiously. As long as you take all the proper pre-cautions and treat the lye with the respect it deserves, there is really nothing to be afraid of.
To me, it's is not much different than the precautions I take when I fry bacon (protect the eyes and skin), or when I clean my bathroom with bleach (protect the eyes and skin, and
protect your lungs from the fumes). I do these things all the time without fear or even giving them a second thought. They are like second nature to me......................but it wasn't always so. At the beginning, I was petrified of working with lye, like so many of the others here when we first started, but once I made my first batch, I pretty much kicked myself for being so paralyzingly paranoid. lol A healthy amount of fear is good- it teaches us to proceed with the proper precautionary safeguards in place, but it ceases to be of much benefit beyond that if it paralyses you.
Lye is not poisonous, but it is caustic, so the precautions needed when working with lye have to do with protecting yourself from its causticness, the level of which is dependent on it's concentration (the more concentrated it is, the more caustic damage it can do):
1) Wear safety goggles at all times when working with it. Mucus membranes are especially vulnerable to the causticness of lye.
2) Always wear protective gloves
3) When weighing out your dry lye and also when mixing up your lye solution: work in a well-ventilated area away from pets and other people, and protect your lungs from breathing in any of the lye dust when weighing it out, and from breathing in the fumes when dissolving it in water (when initially mixed with water it generates a lot of heat, which produces caustic fumes that you do not want to breathe in). Once the solution has cooled, it is safe to breathe around it.
4) If any dry lye or any lye solution or any raw soap batter gets on your bare skin, just flush with water. You'll know when any has come in contact with your skin by the initial, telltale, itching/mild burning sensation. Thankfully, there's a time lag there when the itching/mild burning is first detected and before it can start to do any lasting damage, so when you feel the first inklings of any itching/mild burning sensation, get to the running water asap to dilute it to harmlessness.
5) Lye and aluminum are mortal enemies. Don't ever mix lye solution and/or make soap in aluminum pots/bowls or with aluminum utensils. As far as metals and lye go, stainless steel is the one to use. As far as plastics go, HDPE #2 and PP #5 are also safe to use with lye. In regards to glass: although glass is non-reactive with lye, it should be avoided due to the etching issue- lye will etch glass and weaken it over time to the point that it can shatter when the least amount of stress is put upon it- several soapers have reported this happening to them, so the official position of our forum is that glass is best avoided.