Saturday, January 10, 2015

The thing about luck

I usually start these things with a story.  Something that I think relates to my point or makes a point that I want to make.  For this there are too many stories.  I could tell the one about the young woman who got her long hair caught in the drill in college.  There was blood, and crying in pain, and crying from humiliation, and a really messed up haircut.  That was the first one I remember.  I could tell the one about the guy tapping the chisel towards his stomach because it was easier than re-clamping the work.  I’m pretty sure you know how that worked out.  It also involved blood. There’s the one about the girl and the wood chipper.  That involved some serious pain and months of having her finger sewn into her armpit.  She was a musician.  She needed her fingers.  There are stories of digging through dust to find finger bits, stories of broken bones, stories of deep cuts, and stories of projectiles imbedded deep in human tissue.  Those are the stories where the consequences were immediate and violent and everyone I know who makes things, works with their hands, will say “uh, yeah, ..saw that coming.”  

I use a band saw.  Fairly quiet and no flying dust particles.

They all see that coming and still rely on luck when it comes to long term safety.  Like the guy in the shop down the complex from mine who was cutting, welding and grinding with no eye protection, hearing protection or respirator to protect his lungs.   Not that eye protection is about long term safety.  I don’t have a personal story about someone who has lost an eye, probably because I mostly work alone.  And I’m pretty sure that you can’t have your eye sewn into your armpit to save your sight.  Also, squinting doesn’t count.  I do have a couple of incredibly sad stories of guys dying young of lung cancer or ending up with emphysema.  Either way they were unable to work.  I also have a lot of stories of older guys who can’t hear.  It’s not that I don’t want to look them in the eye and enunciate when I talk to them.  It’s just that it’s not convenient at all times.  

Fiber cut off wheel.  Contains silica and aluminum

Cut off saw - These suckers are noisy and dirty

I don’t really think it’s laziness that makes people not don proper safety equipment, although that may play into it.  It actually mystifies me.  I do get that some of it can be a little uncomfortable at times.  I work in Vegas.  My shop gets so hot in the summer that my thermometer can’t register the temperature.  I still wear an apron, gloves, safety glasses or goggles (this depends on what I am doing), ear protection and a respirator when I’m working.  Oh yeah, and boots.  I sweat a lot.  

Maybe it’s some form of machismo.  I don’t know what the unisex word for that is.  I find that black booger blacksmithing thing disturbing.  Really?  If your boogers are black at the end of the day, so are your lungs.  My first blacksmithing workshop, the instructor (I won’t say who he is because he’s well known) said that he liked to forge his work as close to finished as he could because he didn’t want to eat grinder dust.  Huh?  What difference did it make?  He stood over a coal forge sucking in soot.  Grinder dust was the least of his problems.  Also he was deaf.  He did, to his credit, use safety glasses.  That was it though. 

Not flattering but they work
The rubber keeps some dust out.

So stylish

Recently there have been a couple news stories about cancer.  One was that it’s a crap shoot.  The other was that behavior plays a large part in its development.  So why take the chance?  The thing about relying on luck is that good luck needs to happen every time.  Bad luck only has to happen once.  Those seem like crappy odds. 
Apron doesn't have to be leather to protect.

I use different equipment for different processes.  While working, I always wear an apron and boots and proper clothing.  I don’t wear jewelry.  That’s pretty common.  I have pretty short hair now, but when it was long I always tied it back. 

I like a tight fitting glove.  Get the right size.

I always wear a glove on my left hand.  That is because I am right handed.  It means my left hand is in danger.  If I need one, I have right hand gloves.  

I use a kevlar glove to weld. 

I wear ear muffs because I don’t like things in my ears, but ear plugs are fine too. 
So many ways to save your hearing and worth it.

Wear these all the time and it will be like never having worn them at all.

I wear safety glasses for some operations and goggles for others.  Even though I work alone, I always protect my eyes. 
Standard goggles - I hate them. 

I find these too heavy and the rubber seal makes them fog.

I use goggles similar to these.  No fog.  Try
Although I know some people will use dust masks, I use a respirator.  As a scientist once told me, the visible particles are a problem, but the stuff you can’t see can be worse.  That’s the stuff that gets by a dust mask.  

I think these are a waste of time and money.

This is what I use.  3M Bodyman Respirator.  It fits under my hood and works for grinding and buffing.  Get the correct size and filter.  You can get them online or at a body shop supply.  Worth the money.

This is the Miller welding respirator.  I haven't tried it. 

I know I will die.  We all will.  I just don’t want to be a pathetic shell of my former pathetic shell before then.  To me at least, it’s worth the money and the effort to protect myself short and long term.

Now back to work