Safety Always Comes First
By Larry Schwingel / November 1, 2017
Safety first. It is vital, it is important, and it is necessary.
A recent issue of the Parklander featured a cover photo of a woman operating a power tool without any protective eyewear, leather gloves, or long-sleeved shirt. The intent was for artistic purposes only, and meant to catch the eye of its readers. Based on the number of responses received, the magazine certainly accomplished that goal.
The use of the image opened the door for additional dialogue and input from readers who correctly pointed out that the cover photo was not compatible with the content contained in the article. We appreciate the valid input, and welcome constructive comments and suggestions from our community of readers.
One member of the community was Jerry Lozinski, a semi-retired engineer who worked in factories that adhered to strict OSHA guidelines. "I worked in product development, and it was our job to make sure they met the highest standards," he said. "Sometimes people feel the product is the problem, but if you put a heater in a bedroom next to drapes and it starts a fire, you can't blame the product. The same holds true for tools used when working around the house.
Be sure you have the right tools and be sure you know how to use them." He said that the cover photo was an example of how not to protect yourself when using a power tool.
"When you do a job, be protected," Lozinski said. "Wear leather gloves, safety glasses, proper clothing and shoes (and in some cases head covering and a mask). Use common sense and make sure you are knowledgeable enough to perform the project."
Sheets of plywood, ladders, drills, and saws were the order of the day as preparations were made for Hurricane Irma. The basic tools: a circular saw, a hammer drill (and charger), a regular wood drill, Tapcon screws, proper drill bits for the masonry, hex-head screws, and ladders. Note that it is important when drilling into cement, as masonry bits can overheat and sometimes break- depending on the density of quartz contained in the gravel composition of the cement.
Lozinski used a small electric chain saw to cut the root and limbs of a tree that had fallen in his yard. "I wore a complete shirt and long pants, heavy leather gloves, and steel-towed boots," he said. "It's important to cut at a proper angle so limbs fall in the right direction. If you don't have the equipment you need, call someone who does. Don't be afraid to ask for help."
Joe Albers, a principal engineer at South Florida Water Management District, said men could be victims of their own machismo. "A lot of guys think they are supposed to know all this stuff about repairs, but it is better to be safe than sorry," he said. "Don't be too humble to ask questions about the right tool and the proper safety gear." Albers, who does the bulk of his home's repairs, said wearing personal protective equipment is vital. "Without the proper safety precautions you can easily end up in the emergency room," he said.
The cover photo showed particles of wood flying dangerously close to the woman's face. Albers said that circular saws could have a dust catcher or a vacuum connection to reduce the amount of exposure. "A dust respirator is good too, because once the dust gets into your nostrils it becomes a respiratory irritant," he said. The woman pictured wore a chocker necklace and a tank top. The necklace didn't necessarily pose a safety issue, but rings and bracelets do. "I came from a farming background and we didn't wear rings," Albers said. "Most famers and ranchers don't wear wedding rings because they can be caught on something." According to Albers, the photo didn't convey the appropriate message.
Key questions to ask before any home project should be: What does the job entail? Do I have the skills to do it? Do I have the proper equipment required? What are the hazards? Albers admits he does not get involved with anything electrical, but he does simple plumbing. "When it comes to copper piping and soldering, I'll hire someone," he said. "I know my limitations."
He advises wearing leather gloves for a better grip and hand protection, and to use a ladder planted on solid ground to prevent tipping. Also, use both hands when using a chainsaw. "It is one of the most dangerous tools you can own, so be sure there is a stable surface, and keep both hands on it to protect against kickback," Albers said. He also said that hearing is also a part of safety, so wearing earplugs to listen to music when working isn't advisable.
In summary, wear protective clothing, proper footwear, and glasses, use the right tools and drill bits, know the risks, know your strengths and weaknesses, and don't be afraid to ask for help.
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