When working around the house, protecting yourself is a number one priority. Using the proper gear can help minimize risks and prevent fatigue, keeping you safe and focused. What are we talking about? Personal protective equipment, commonly known as PPE. A quick example:
When running a chain saw, PPE is very important. The all in one head/ear/chip/sun protection afforded by one piece of equipment can make a big difference when out in the field. Attenuating noise and keeping sawdust and chips from hitting your face mean you can run the saw longer with less distraction. Of course, gloves, boots, and Kevlar chaps are all part of the equation as well. In the event of a kickback, the helmet and shield are there to keep the blade from making direct contact with your head and face. The upside should be obvious!
I guess we can start at the bottom, and work our way up. Appropriate footwear based on the task: you wouldn’t wear jogging shoes while chain sawing, but they could very well be adequate for light duty tasks such as mowing the lawn. Performing heavy duty tasks such as running a rotary (jack) hammer to dig holes in a tough yard would require a safety toe boot, whether steel or composite. Unless of course you don’t mind dropping 60-90lbs on your toes, depending on the equipment used. “Dropping a rotary hammer on my feet Eric? Really?” You never plan on it of course, and accidents can happen when you least expect them.
Next up are pants. Almost always a strong pair of denim jeans is what gets worn for chores, from painting to landscaping. Specialty pants exist, but are geared more towards full time professionals. When needed, additional protection can be used in addition to jeans, such as the chain saw chaps pictured above. Again, this is task specific.
Depending on the weather and job, long or short sleeve shirts may be a preference. Unless one is welding, mandatory long sleeves are rarely required for full time skin protection.
Gloves: from the tried and true old leather yard gloves for dirt and blisters, to nitrile gloves for chemical protection, many options exist for nearly every home improvement project. In the yard the rubber coated cotton are a personal favorite. Doing any kind of painting or staining we use latex or nitrile to keep our skin chemical free. Use what is comfortable, and most important what fits the best!
Head protection could be a simple ball cap for sun, but we prefer the “lifeguard” hat for long duration yard projects. Not too often is a hardhat needed around the house, so having one isn’t necessary for most folks.
Safety glasses could be your full time prescription eye wear, or approved glasses or goggles. We prefer clear, tight fitting eyeglass style glasses. They can be donned easily with gloved hands when needed, such as using powered woodworking equipment like a table saw. It goes without saying that you only have one pair of eyes, and keeping them safe shouldn’t be an afterthought.
Noise protection, once thought the hallmark of “wussies” by tough guys of yesteryear, is used everywhere today. Going deaf isn’t so macho, and hearing damage is permanent! All sorts of equipment make enough noise to damage your ears. Any kind of saw, especially when cutting tile, produces ear splitting levels of sound pressure. We like ear muffs for intermittent tasks, such as saw use. For longer wear, we use disposable ear plugs. It is all personal preference, just make sure you are using attenuation that gets you at least 26 decibels of reduction.
Finally, dust or respiration masks. Keeping fine particles and volatile compounds out of your respiratory system is a must these days. We use the above respirator frequently on projects, from staining furniture to work in the attic. It might seem a little overkill, but the money is well spent when fumes and dust don’t have you pausing to catch a fresh breath. Simple N95 masks, like you find in the paint isle can help with dust as long as they fit well. For any finer compounds, a true filter system is a must.
There you have it, a primer on safety gear around the home. We have all of the above gear, and use it as needed. Used properly, your health and focus will remain at peak levels. This helps to keep on task for longer periods of time, keeping jobs efficient.