I’ve always thought glasses were for nerds—until I got older and had to wear them myself. I always avoid wearing them unless I’m reading, but I wear my other glasses all the time. My super cool safety glasses double as a nifty pair of shades and I sport them all the time. They keep the sun out of my eyes when I’m working and chicks dig them too. But that’s not the only reason I wear them—they also actually protect my eyes when I’m working. I’ve always wanted to share some of my stories about why safety glasses are so important because the little cartoon guy on the side of my saw just doesn’t look menacing enough to make most people want to wear them. It takes a little blood and guts to make you think twice about why these (and other safety gear) are extremely important to wear. So with that said, if mildly horrifying tales of tool mishaps freak you out, you may not want to read the rest of this (or maybe you do just for the safety motivation.
A Christmas Story for Safety Glasses
When I was a teenager, I got my first framing job for a guy who looked like Colombo. He always smoked cigars and squinted with his crooked eye just like the detective. He had an odd shaped pupil that threw his vision off considerably and we took advantage of it every chance we’d get. We’d throw scraps of wood over his head for a laugh. He’d see the shadow with his good eye and flinch, thinking that something heavy was coming his way. He was a stickler for us wearing safety glasses and here’s why. When he was a teenager on his first framing job, he was setting a 12d nail when it bounced up and stuck into his eye. He would have lost the eye altogether had he not been working on an eye doctor’s house that just happened to be there to rush him to the hospital. Ever since, he’d never failed to wear safety glasses and you should to. You’ll shoot your eye out kid!
I Saw you Do It
Cutting tools are nothing to mess around with. If you’ve ever cut a piece of wood, you know well that it could cut off a finger or two just as easily as a 2×4. Safety equipment like a blade guard is important to keep in place during the cut. Pulling back the guard to make a plunge cut is a big no-no. A circular saw can easily kick back on you and without the blade guard down, you could easily get hurt. I’ve seen what kick back can do first hand; and it’s not pretty. We hired a cut man for a framing project years ago who thought it was a good idea to use his knee for a saw horse. The saw he brought to the job didn’t have a blade guard and when it kicked back, it cut his inner thigh pretty deep. He went to the hospital and never came back to work. His leg was nearly paralyzed and he never worked on a roof again.
You can Breathe Easy
Eyes and fingers are a must to protect, but what about your lungs? It’s imperative that you always use the proper respirator when working around toxic materials. I knew a flooring guy who never wore a respirator when applying his flooring finishes. He thought the South American country “Brazil” was pronounced “Bazil”. Wood dust can be hazardous, black mold spores can go airborne when removing wet debris, and mind altering fumes from your clear coat can cause you to think that your cat is talking to you. Protect yourself from these dangers by wearing a quality respirator.
Can You Hear Me Now?
Your hearing is in constant jeopardy when you use high powered tools that make noise. A circular saw can have a higher decibel level than a jet engine! That’s why it’s so important to wear ear protection when using power tools. You’ll go deaf before you know it. My father has been cutting without ear protection for decades. When he lays his head down to go to sleep, he turns his head so his right ear (the one closest to the saw) faces up from the pillow. This way, he can’t hear anything when he’s trying to sleep and the TV’s still on.
Don’t let yourself become a cautionary tale for our next article on safety around the job site and home! Oh, and if you have any special stories like these, feel free to share them for the public good in the comments section at the bottom of the page. So when we say “Safety Glasses are For Nerds” we actually mean “Safety Glasses are For Smart People.”