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Personal Safety

Personal Safety Published: 25th Feb 2019 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Personal Safety
Personal Safety
Personal Safety
Personal Safety
Personal Safety
Personal Safety
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Rob Hawkins provides an overview of the clothing and accessories that can keep you working safely in your garage over the winter

The issue of working safely is easy to ignore, especially if you have a long list of jobs lined up for an afternoon or evening in your garage and realise it may take another five or ten minutes to find your grinding goggles and gloves. It’s only when an accident occurs that you really appreciate the value of such equipment.

So what should you be wearing this winter and having to hand to ensure you keep the risk of accidents to a minimum? Depending on the type of jobs that you will be undertaking, the level of protection varies. At the very least, it’s worthwhile investing in something to protect your hands. Barrier cream and hand cleaners from the likes of Swarfega have been popular methods of protection for many decades, but more recently, the price of disposable gloves has dropped, so many people opt for these instead.

Latex gloves are often the cheapest, but easily snagged and torn and many people are allergic to them, whether they are powdered or powder-free. Nitrile disposable gloves seem to be less problematic for people with allergies but are more expensive. Some of these gloves tear just as easily, although it appears that the more you pay, the better they are at surviving snags. However, just like latex gloves, they are not breathable, so your hands may become sweaty. If you are hoping to reuse a pair of nitrile disposable gloves over a few days, it may be worthwhile washing and drying them at the end of each day to reduce the risk of bacteria building up on your hands developing skin problems.

Thicker, non-disposable gloves are another option, which are often manufactured from a breathable material. However, they’re usually too thick for delicate work, such as picking up and fitting an M6 nut. They are ideal for heavy-duty work, such as grinding.

In some cases, it’s worthwhile investing in dedicated gloves, such as those used for welding jobs.

Protect yourself

Some people struggle to work with any type of glove, so resorting to barrier cream and a hand cleaner may be the better solution in some cases. However, it’s worthwhile persevering with gloves if you can, because many jobs are safer with them. The same goes for goggles. Whether it’s drilling a hole through a metal panel or cutting through a wheel arch with an angle grinder; protecting your eyes is important. Safety goggles cost from a few quid a pair, so they’re a cheap investment for potentially saving your eyesight. They’re designed to withstand the impact of metal fragments or sparks and are usually constructed from plastic.

Some jobs require more than a simple pair of safety goggles to protect your eyes. Grinding with a wire wheel can see bits of metal flying in all directions, so a full-face visor provides better protection. When welding, a suitable welding mask that can filter out the harmful light that is omitted should be worn – closing your eyes when welding and hoping you’ve hit the spot is never going to be a safe (or accurate) alternative.

Breathing masks are one aspect of safety equipment that are not used as much as they should be. Jobs such as sanding down filler, grinding through rust or cutting through aluminium all generate dust in the air that can be harmful if inhaled. Disposable breathing masks can cost a few pence if bought in bulk and are designed to last for less than a day. A longer-lasting, more comprehensive mask with removable filters will be more expensive, but should provide better protection.

Don’t be footloose

One area of safety that isn’t so clear concerns footwear. Steel-toe-capped boots are popular and a requirement in some workplaces. They help to protect your toes should you drop a hammer on them, for instance. However, it could be argued that if a heavy object lands on the steel front and crushes it, your toes could either be crushed inside the shoe or severed, whereas they may have been broken without such protection.

Whatever the opinion, it’s a painful outcome, but in the long term could be the difference between having toes or not. Weighing up the risks and eliminating the potential accidents is the best approach.

One aspect of safety that’s defi nitely easier to decide upon is a pair of working overalls. Old clothes may suffice, but overalls are inexpensive at around £20 or more and usually include useful pockets. Plus, many are made from a thick material to help withstand grinding and welding sparks plus keep you warmer.

Disposable overalls aren’t for everyday use but ideal for clean jobs, such as paintwork, or tasks that involve dangerous substances where contamination needs to be kept to a minimum.

There are some specific jobs that require a greater level of safety and understanding of what can go wrong. Welding is one example, where the aforementioned mask and gloves are essential. However, full body protection from hot welding sparks is essential. The sparks can jump through the smallest opening in your clothing, then drop down and burn your skin, so being covered from top to toe is important, especially if you are welding underneath a vehicle.

Some forms of protection may seem like overkill, such as wearing a hard hat when working underneath a vehicle. Is it a case of health and safety gone mad? It’s not the easiest thing to wear when crawling underneath a vehicle, but possibly a sensible option if you are in an inspection pit.

Be workshop wise

The protection that you don’t wear is just as important as your gloves, goggles and overalls, but often not given much consideration. It’s probably because most of this protection caters for the type of disasters you do not want to be involved in, such as a fi re or a car dropping onto you. It’s also diffcult to determine how much equipment is required. Is a small handheld fi re extinguisher, for example, sufficient to put out an engine fi re?

Maybe not, so it could be worthwhile buying a fire blanket and a second extinguisher. The extinguisher will also add peace of mind when welding and grinding, where the sparks can ignite flammable components such as carpets, rustproofi ng treatments and old soundproofi ng (modern soundproofi ng materials should be fi reproof).

Alarms, such as a smoke detector can help, especially when welding or grinding on your own, although they may activate due to the amount of smoke generated. Similarly, a carbon monoxide alarm is a useful warning system if you are running your classic car’s engine.

Some potential accidents simply require equipment and procedures to be thoroughly catered for. A first aid kit with wipes, bandages and plasters will hopefully save the day should you cut open a finger and start painting the fl oor with your blood.

A bottle or two of eyewash will help should you accidentally spray something into your eyes. And it’s not always accidents that result in injury.

What happens if your car’s engine oil leaks all over the floor, for instance? A bag of sand may be all that you need, although spill kits from the likes of Draper Tools are available that promise to be more effective.

The list of protective products can seem never-ending, so looking at the type of jobs you do is essential. Plus, it’s important to consider the type of accidents that can occur and how you should deal with them. What happens if a raised car falls off its axle stands or jack and lands on you and you’re on your own? Carrying your mobile phone in the top pocket of your overalls may ensure you can alert someone.

If you have an inspection pit, devise an exit strategy should you need to get out quickly. The same applies to working in the main area of the garage or workshop. If you cut through an electric cable when grinding, fi tting trip switches in your fusebox may protect you from electric shocks.

The issue of working safely is certainly easy to ignore, but not too difficult to address. Accidents are inevitable, so having a plan to deal with them and the protection to minimise their impact is the better approach.


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