Working in the shop can be dangerous, but there’s lots you can do to help keep yourself safe. Here are the top 6 most-used safety items from my barn:
First Aid Kit. Band-aids are the most frequently used item (refill your stock regularly!), but you should also have gauze pads and bandages that could help with severe bleeding. If you buy a ready-made kit, be sure to unwrap it and familiarize yourself with its contents BEFORE emergency strikes.
Fire Extinguisher. We use this way more frequently than I’d like to admit. This isn’t a purchase to skimp out on – get a large one with an ABC rating (the ABC rating means that it can put out all sorts of flammable materials). If your shop is large or your accidents frequent, get more than one. When you use an extinguisher, be sure to get it recharged!
Welding Gloves. Thick, appropriately sized welding gloves will protect your hands and forearms when you are doing hot work. Because my hands are smaller than most welders’, it took some trouble to find gloves that are the right size. It’s worth it to get ones that fit you well because it makes a big difference in your dexterity. This advice applies if your hands are bigger than usual, too – tight gloves restrict your movement and won’t insulate as well as ones that are the right size.
Welding Helmet. When I was a kid, my grandpa got a bad case of welder’s flash and had to wear bandages over his eyes for quite a while. Ever since then my dad has taught me to be extremely careful around welding. A good welding helmet is really non-negotiable. Pay the extra money to get a wide field of vision – you want to be able to see what you’re doing!
Respirator. If you’re painting, you need one of these! While any respirator is better than no respirator, it’s worth the time and money to buy a high-quality respirator that matches the job you are doing.
Safety Glasses. The same grandpa who hurt his eyes with welder’s flash also got steel slivers in his eyes. Yikes! The thought of this makes my toes curl. Wearing safety glasses when grinding, using a lathe, or doing similar jobs can help keep you safe from this sort of accident. Buy a few pairs so that you can always find them when needed.
There you have it: the 6 safety items I use most frequently. How about you – is there something you’d add to this list? Share your thoughts in the comments below.