Saturday, April 25, 2015

PPE for Do-It-Yourselfers


When you hear the acronym PPE, what does that mean to you?  Have you even heard of it before?  It stands for Personal Protective Equipment and I first heard of it during some safety training for a former employer years ago.  That's just it!  Most people probably think that these things are only important while at work on a construction site, in a factory, or some environment like that.  The reality is that personal protective equipment is important at home as well.  Just because we have come to call these projects "DIY projects" doesn't mean we shouldn't think about safety, or perhaps even practice using PPE.  Whether you are working on a project around the house or in the yard, wearing the appropriate PPE can keep you safe.  So what is PPE?  Let's take a look at a few examples and why they are important (even for DIY projects).

1.   Safety Glasses 
Safety Glasses

Eye protection is important wherever there is even the slightest chance of an eye injury, such as:  grinding, sanding, using power tools, Nail guns, lawnmowers, and weed-eaters.  Safety glasses are now available in a variety of sizes and styles.  You can even get them in clear or tinted.  To make sure they are actually rated for "safety", check the inside of the ear piece.  They should be stamped with "Z-87" or "Z-87.1".  You eyes are extremely important, so don't take them for granted!

2.   Ear Protection
Ear Protection

Unlike most parts of the body, when you damage your ears it doesn't always cause pain.  Being exposed to loud noises over a long period of time can cause hearing loss without you even knowing it.  Hearing loss affects your quality of life and is irreversible.  There are many forms of ear protection on the market.  There are Ear Plugs and Ear Muffs and both come in different styles.  The main thing to remember is to pick the one that is rated for your task and make sure you where them correctly.

3.   Dust Mask
Dust Mask

Anytime you are working around dust that can be inhaled, a dust mask should be worn.  Projects such as sanding (whether wood or drywall), painting, or even mowing the lawn, protection from dust is important.  Inhalation of dust can cause respiratory problems or even worse health problems.  If your using a mask like the one pictured above, be sure to form the metal strip on top to fit the bridge of your nose.  If you don't, dust can still get in and you won't be getting the protection you need.

4.    Gloves

Gloves not only give you a better grip at times, they do protect your hands, as well.  They prevent cuts, scrapes, and blisters when handling sharp or rough materials.  Gloves come in many different forms.  They are made of various materials for different uses.  A lot of construction work gloves are made of leather, canvas, or cloth.  Latex or rubber gloves are often used when working with chemicals.  Kevlar gloves are typically used when working with knives or other sharp objects.  Make sure to wear the appropriate glove and also make sure it fits.  A glove that is too big or too small can cause more problems.

I've only listed a few examples in hopes to get the message across.  In fact, there are numerous other forms of PPE available.  Hard Hats and Safety Toe Workboots are a couple of main ones.  OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) require the appropriate PPE on construction sites and all workplaces in the country.  Even though you may be just working on a project at your house, I urge you to think about two things:  What you are doing, and What the potential hazards are.  If there is anything you can do to prevent yourself of injury (like wearing PPE), it would definitely be worth it!