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In-Shop Personal Safety Equipment
It’s there, it’s effective, you just have to use it
Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz
Posted - 5-16-2013
I get too many emails from woodworkers who following an injury wished that they had begun using personal safety equipment earlier. We all now safety products are available, we know using these products is the right thing to do but yet far too many of us skip personal safety, often using very lame excuses.
The safety products in this review all came from our friends at Rockler. All of these products are easy to use, none prevent us from doing any kind of woodworking and none are budget-busters in terms of cost – especially when weighed against the financial impact of even small injuries.
Probably the easiest of all safety equipment to use are those designed to protect and preserve our hearing. We have all seen the little, often foam rubber protectors that we literally push into our ears to reduce sound levels and while they can be effective they are not easy to put in and take out. Easier to use are the “ear muff” type protectors that look like a set of headphones and we look at two of those here.
Vibe 29 Earmuff Hearing Protectors
The Vibe 29 Earmuff Hearing Protectors offer 29 dB (decibels) of noise reduction, the most in Rocklers selection. That level of protection makes these muffs suitable for many environments from job sites to home workshops. The Vibe 29 Earmuff Hearing Protectors have thickly-insulated ear cups with comfortable, ultra-soft seals that maintain most of their noise reduction when used with safety glasses and goggles. The headband is also padded as well and adjustable with firm detents so they hold their sizing while you work. The range of adjustment makes the Vibe 29 Earmuff Hearing Protectors compatible with most head shapes and sizes.
In use the Vibe 29 Earmuff Hearing Protectors feel very light and comfortable. The amount of noise reduction is remarkable yet I can hear the tool working and other relatively loud sounds. However, none come through at a level that even approaches loud or uncomfortable. The Vibe 29 Earmuff Hearing Protectors cost $24.99 per pair. (5-14-2013)
3M Tekk Protection Folding Earmuffs
The 3M Tekk Protection Folding Earmuffs carry a noise reduction rating of 23 db which is necessary to protect you from noises at or exceeding 85 decibels and easily meets common demands of nearly any workshop. A nice feature is that when you are not using the 3M Tekk Protection Folding Earmuffs you can tuck the ear cups into the headband to make a compact package for transport or storage. They feature comfortably soft seals that are essential for maintaining noise reduction when they are used in conjunction with safety glasses or goggles. The adjustable headband has firm detents that help to hold the size adjustment during use. And they are light enough to simply hang around your neck in between uses so you don’t have to keep looking for them when needed.
When wearing the 3M Tekk Protection Folding Earmuffs they feel comfortable and seem very effective at reducing all loud noises in the shop environment. The price of $17.99 (5-14-2013) makes being hearing-safe a budget friendly investment.
Because prescription eyeglasses are seldom sufficient for impact protection we have products like the OTG™ Safety Glasses. These specially designed glasses fit over most prescription glasses to offer better protection against light to moderate impacts. They meet the requirements of ANSI Z87.1+ and Z94.3 safety standards. These glasses also have an anti-fog coating, side protection and offer 99.9% UV protection if you work outdoors. Even the upper edges are extended toward the face to help prevent particles from dropping in behind them.
In use the OTG™ Safety Glasses are comfortable, stay clear and give you a very good field of vision. Plus, you can get this protection for just $7.00 per pair! (5-14-2013)
Visit the OTG™ Safety Glasses page at Rockler - Click Here
These glasses from 3M have wrap around lenses that offer good side protection plus their yellow coloring increases contrast which can be helpful in many situations. They also help you see better in low light situations. The 3M Tekk Yellow-Tinted Safety Glasses feature an anti-scratch coating and anti-glare protection. The earpieces are adjustable and with the soft nosepiece make the 3M Tekk Yellow-Tinted Safety Glasses more comfortable to wear. These glasses are certified to meet the requirements of ANSI Z87.1-2003 and CSA Z94.3-2007 safety standards.
Despite the considerable protection the 3M Tekk Yellow-Tinted Safety Glasses are comfortable to wear and adjust easily for the best fit. Surprisingly 3M Tekk Yellow-Tinted Safety Glasses cost just $7.99 per pair. (5-14-2013)
Visit the 3M Tekk Yellow-Tinted Safety Glasses page at Rockler - Click Here
Many woodworking operations have the potential to launch various sized pieces of wood in unpredictable directions. Frequently that turns out to be directly at our faces which are too often unprotected. I once had a woodworker with a nasty looking scar on his nose from the impact of a fractured piece of wood years earlier tell me that only sissies wear face shields. If that kind of logic seems plausible to you we need to have a whole different conversation. For the sane portion of the woodworking community making use of available face protection devices makes good sense.
This full-face shield from 3M offers protection from many flying particulates, liquid splashes, non-ionizing radiation, high heat and/or glare. The shield itself is fabricated from clear, 3/32" thick polycarbonate that resists impacts very well. Because of its wrap-around configuration it provides an unobstructed, non-distorted view of your work area. The face shield is mounted on a fully adjustable suspension headband designed to fit head sizes from 6-1/2 to 8. The full shield tips up out of the way on pivots that hold it up when not needed.
The 3M Tekk Professional Face Shield is meant to be secondary protection, used with safety goggles or safety glasses. Despite its full-face protection the 3M Tekk Professional Face Shield is surprisingly light on the head. It also meets the requirements of ANSI Z87.1-2003 safety standards and costs just $17.99. (5-14-2013)
Visit the 3M Tekk Professional Face Shield page at Rockler - Click Here
This shield is actually the unique combination of safety goggles and face shield. When used as a single unit you get a high level of eye protection from airborne dust and chips. While the V90 Safety Goggles with Detachable Face Shield is ideal for all sorts of turning projects its protection is also very useful for routing operations as well as other dust-producing tasks in the shop.
The monogoggle fits over most prescription glasses, and features a tight seal around the eyes with indirect ventilation and anti-fog protection to help prevent clouding of the lens. When you don’t need the wrap around shield it snaps free from the goggles. The fully adjustable flat elastic strap on the goggles is designed to work with earmuff-style hearing protection. The V90 Safety Goggles with Detachable Face Shield is surprisingly light and gives a clear view of the surrounding work area. This unique combination of safety devices sells for just $27.99! (5-14-2013)
Visit the V90 Safety Goggles with Detachable Face Shield page at Rockler - Click Here
Airborne dust has always been a problem for woodworkers and not just during the obvious sanding situations. Virtually all cutting and shaping operations launch fine particles into the air we breathe and none of them do us any good when inhaled. For years woodworkers had a choice between the ineffective paper masks or full-on industrial apparatus that cost as much as many of our projects. Now we have a more appropriate choice in a price range that makes tool-budget sense.
FastCap's MXV Dust Masks are made from a soft, highly effective filter element that makes them much more comfortable to wear. To make breathing in them easier they have an Easy Breathe exhale valve that not only prevents pressurizing the interior of the mask but also directs your breath down and away from your safety glasses to help prevent dangerous fogging. When not in use the FastCap MXV Pocket Dust Masks fold flat so they can be tucked in a pocket for reuse later. Each mask also comes in its own resealable plastic bag. The FastCap MXV Pocket Dust Masks carry a N95 rating which makes them great for general shop tasks (non-toxic materials) where dust and particles can be expected in the air.
The FastCap MXV Pocket Dust Masks are held in place by two elastic straps and a comfortable foam adjustable nosepiece that allows them to seal at the bridge of your nose properly. To eliminate virtually any excuse for not using them the FastCap MXV Pocket Dust Masks are sold in packs of ten for just $17.99! (5-14-2013)
Visit the FastCap MXV Pocket Dust Masks page at Rockler - Click Here
Far too many woodworkers continue to offer weak or outright dumb reasons for not using the effective safety equipment available to us. As we see here, the price of safety is not a budget-breaker but can prevent costly injuries that actually could drain your bank account. It’s time to remember that woodworking is a hobby for most of us that need not be made more dangerous by us not using proven protection devices.
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