Surely Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is just for those with all the gear and no idea!
Standard human equipment includes just two eyes and two hands and once they're gone, they're gone.
It’s All Good in the Modern World…
Modern safety equipment is well designed, lightweight, and inexpensive and its use really is a no-brainer. In fact if you don't carefully consider what you're doing and wear the right kit you may well end up with, well, no brain!
It's advisable to at least have the basics and to consider PPE as part of your tool kit.
A set of safety glasses (goggles and head gear if the job is heavy duty enough to demand), knee pads, safety boots and gloves are a good start. If you are working in a loud or repetitively noisy environment then wear ear defenders. Dust masks are a must for dusty environments and in the odd instance, for example if using a polyurethane foam insulation spray kit, then a vapour and particulate respirator is advised.
Eye protection really is a must. So many tasks involve cutting, sanding, drilling or fluids and it really is easy to take one in the eye. Good tool suppliers are a source for lightweight, impact resistant glasses and there are even tinted ones available for working outdoors on a sunny day. Goggles are advisable for tasks such as grinding when tiny metal particles really do find their way everywhere. It goes without saying that if you are attempting welding then a suitable welder’s mask is essential. UV radiation from the process will cause what is known as “arc eye” in unprotected eyes. We believe this to be incredibly painful so why would you weld unprotected?
Dust masks are really inexpensive. When you realise that many products we work with are pretty toxic due to the environment in which they have to work then the last thing you really need is a lungful. For example, MDF is essentially wood particles bound in a resin, commonly formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen. When cutting or milling MDF, large quantities of dust particles can be released so don’t take unnecessary risks.
...A word of warning. Most low cost dust masks offer no protection against airborne gases or particulates that may be emissions from paints and lacquers.
It is worth spending around £20 and investing in at least a half mask offering A1/P2 protection. One with removable filters that can be replaced will offer protection for most DIY based tasks.
For spraying PU insulation follow the suppliers advice on PPE. In most instances, forced air respiration will be required.
In all cases follow the manufacturer’s MSDS/SDS or Material Safety Data Sheet/Safety Data Sheet for guidance on the correct PPE for the product you are about to use. Ask the supplier for the manufacturers MSDS. The supplier is obliged to provide it if the material is classified as dangerous or hazardous and sufficient information on PPE has not been provided by said supplier.
Modern work wear is well designed and usually hard wearing and most trousers have knee pockets into which inexpensive foam pads can be inserted. Believe us when we say that at days end, after sanding a roof or laying ballast, you'll be glad of them!
You Need Hands...
Latex gloves can be bought from tool outlets for around £6/100 and are well worth the investment if you are painting, blacking or working on oily and greasy components. Old engine oil for example is carcinogenic so why would you want to take the risk. A word of warning here though, latex gloves can very easily be grabbed by any rotating tool such as the chuck on an electric drill. The consequences are potentially dragging your hand or fingers into the tool or work zone. Speak to your tool supplier who will be happy to advise on the best protection for your task.
Safety boots are also a good investment. They come in various designs so the choice is huge. Quite a few boat related jobs involve moving heavy materials or tools around tight spaces and even a tape measure dropped onto a big toe protected only by the strap of a flip-flop will bring tears to the eyes.
So our message here is “work safe”.
Consider your task, the environment and what equipment offers the best protection. We want you here and enjoying your boating for many years to come…