The job I work on is addicted to safety like Snooki is addicted to spray tans and ridiculous shoes. We have at least one safety meeting a week and if we do a project out of the ordinary, we have a new and different safety meeting. And in the event that something almost happens we have a near miss meeting to talk about ways we could have prevented almost being unsafe. Given my track record it’s amazing that I even get anything done. Let’s just say I have learned about safety from experience.
If I may, let me run done the list of ills that have befallen me: two large framing nails in the foot, a framing nail shot into my thumb, table saw to the thumb, fallen with, I repeat with (not through or off), a roof, soaking my feet in jet fuel, being sprayed in the face with gasoline from a bad fuel line, and finally, a backhoe bucket to the unprotected cabeza. The list probably goes on but I’ve had at least one concussion, so… what was I saying? Anyway, after the roof incident I decided perhaps it was time to take more care of myself and work safer. After all, when was the last time that you saw someone in the hospital who was hurt being too safe? Plus, June happens to be National Safety Month. Before we talk true shop though, it’s important that we understand that every job is different and requires different safety equipment. This list isn’t exhaustive or intended to apply to every situation, so please do your own due diligence on this topic.
If you’ve ever watched “The New Yankee Workshop” you’ve probably noticed that the first thing Norm talks about is shop safety starting with safety glasses. It really is the first line in protection if you think about it. A splinter or shard of something in your eye quickly turns that deck project into something straight out of a “Three Stooges” episode meets horror movie. Forget for a second the chance that you’ve potentially wrecked your retina, now you’re walking blind through your pre-made mine field, nuk, nuk, nuk. Nowadays safety glasses look as much as sunglasses as they do safety equipment and they work really well to protect your eyes. There’s even combined eye protection and hearing protection from folks like our advertiser Combo Glasses. Speaking of hearing protection. . .
Anyone who’s been around a saw or other loud power tool for any time knows the ringing in the ears that comes with it. Sure that ringing goes away after a while, but it can also lead to permanent damage. The simplest fix is just the push in ear buds. I love them and wear them whenever there’s a need: sanding a floor, ripping out plaster (like the picture above shows), around the house after the kids go to bed and it’s just my wife and I (just kidding honey, love you). They cut the noise down, prevent that ringing, but also allow you to hear things if you need to. Ear protection is often under-prioritized as you can see in this handy hearing protection infographic 3M Tekk provided to us:
Like Clinton said I didn’t inhale. Some might say it’s unnecessary for a quick sanding touch-up, but breathing protection is essential to keep healthy lungs. I mean I’m out of breath at the top of stairs, I can’t afford to fill my lungs up with outside crap. The nice things about respirators is that there is a wide variety out there for each need. So, unlike me in the picture, if you are just sanding drywall you may want to only use a paper mask that filters out particulates. Because I was tearing out a room with old spray foam insulation in it, I wanted to be on the safe side. The one I’m wearing filters out smaller particulates and organic vapors like paint thinner, methyl ethyl death, and the lot. The canisters on the sides are actually color coded to help you verify the right ones; such as black for organic vapors and green for ammonia. These can vary with different brands. You can find the highly respected 3M 7500 Series Reusable Half Facepiece, Model 7502 on Amazon for around $25 plus cartridges.
You’ve heard the saying scars are like tattoos just with better stories. But honestly there’s not a whole lot you can do when you’ve mangled a finger or gouged the palm, or you’re trying to explain to your wife why your hands now look more mahogany than flesh tone after a stain project. Wearing the proper work gloves helps protect your hands and your productivity plus there’s less clean up afterwards. Keep in mind gloves aren’t recommended for all tasks though. When working with certain power tools many professionals actually advise against gloves. There are some power tools that can catch glove material and then pull and twist your hand into the bad, sharp and “spinny” parts of the tool. Wear gloves that fit well, and avoid their use when working around tools where the risk of snagging outweighs their protective benefits.
Sometimes common sense seems to be checked at the door when the work begins. Frankly, nearly every accident I’ve ever had was due to stupid mistakes I or others made. For example, every nail I’ve stepped on was the result of not taking nails out of boards and then leaving the boards lying around (that, and I stepped on them). The backhoe bucket incident – should’ve had a hardhat on, table saw to the finger – yeah I removed every safety feature that the table saw had, stupid, stupid, stupid. Stopping and thinking about the smart way of doing things and then not getting careless prevents more accidents than wearing any safety equipment ever could. Take your time as you work and finish with all your digits and a great project done right!