Saturday, November 19, 2011

Safety - First steps for a clever girl.

Lots of people have been commenting to me (mostly in person), about my new blog! It's hasn't been entirely ladies, but it has struck up some excellent conversations with some and mostly us ladies are instantly talking "shop" & "safety". So far we all agree, that trying to find personalized safety equipment can be tricky. It's not as simple as opening a catalog and ordering what works, or walking into a store with your credit card. Hopefully, the advice that follows helps some of you (((girls))) in your personal search.

Safety glasses, for starters: One type fit Matthew's face, but leave big gaping holes around my eye sockets (& vice versa). I found a “child sized” pair that curved a bit more & fit my face in a discount bin at a welding supply store one day. It has been a difficult time finding replacements, even with product numbers. You know, when you like something at the grocery & then they discontinue it??? It's kinda like that with me and safety glasses. Welding supply shops also often have display boards where you can try different glasses on, to find the one that will fit you, before ordering. Work closely with your welding shop reps, they'll also keep your product numbers listed on your account, so when you finally find what fits you right, they know what you want when you run out.

Work gloves: After working in the shop awhile, my glove of choice, is the “Leather Double Palm” work glove. The glove is constructed with two layers of leather on the palm which for me, helps reduce the risk of heat (burn) if I pick up something hot, but also helps with vibration when using hand tools. Matthew wears a “LARGE”, I wear a “MEDIUM”. When I found the perfect size, I started buying them in quantities(bags) of 12. My local welding rep (Ted at Scott Gross in Frankfort, KY phone # 502.227.8257) keeps an extra bag of 12 in stock, and I send all the ladies to see him for gloves. They are not usually found in “bargain bins” at discount tool stores (like the bins of 'LARGE' you might see at Harbor Freight, etc) and are rarely on discount anywhere... but a good pair of gloves for 'every day work' costs about $3 and lasts me about a week. I weld and grind in them and soon the cloth (top of finger) part starts to disintegrate and I'm on to the next pair. Your wear may vary. But they are more lightweight than heavy 100% leather welding gloves. Good luck ever finding size Medium/Small in discount stores like the guys' LARGE sizes! Any ladies out there looking for the perfect glove. I can't find many places to order anything but LARGE on-line, but here is ordering information for Revco's “Black Stallion Standard Split Cowhide Leather Palm Gloves Model 6DP - Double Palm, Size L – SKU REV6DP,”.

Face shields & headgear: These are not as “simple” as it first sounds. The standard shop full face clear safety shield is flat, and they curve around your face. We've all seen them, right? The replacement visors pop in and out of the head gear & fit can change, but the plastic replacement shields are all about the same & connect the the headgear at the top. UNTIL I found the Bionic clear face shield by Uvex! Genius. (The clear Bionic face shield is shown on the left, in the collection of 3 below.)  The small lip around the entire shield has been *just enough* extra coverage to spare me from any metal particles that might ricochet off my jacket and get to my eye.

Remember, face shields are only “secondary” protection and should be worn with safety goggles... but only after finding proper fitting safety goggles and finding this shield did I stop having problems with particulates getting in my eyes when grinding & dressing welds. I order mine from MSC (order # 87545273) for $56.80 and haven't had a trip to the Ophthalmologist since! (Replacement shields are $27.71 each). Beats repeat $200 trips to the eye doctor! Am I worried my eye doctor's scheduling secretary has forgotten my first name? No, not really. ;)

                                                                                Bionic by Uvex

But alas, it may not be the visor to “end all”. I've been through a small line of short miracles to protect myself when plasma cutting (I digress, that's another long post someday). But long story short, you have to protect your skin. Any exposed skin is susceptible to the painful and damaging effects of ultraviolet and infrared rays. Ladies, we're talking premature age spots. On your face. Enough said. (Apologies to my clients who may be aesthetic skin care surgeons and specialists, while I spill the beans to my lady welding & plasma cutting friends who would like to STAY OUT of your office!) but my bigger point is, it's not only the eyes that need protection when plasma cutting.
Current Level in Amps
Minimum Shade Number
Below 20
                                                   "ordinary + clear"  &  "ordinary + shade 5.0 green"

Uvex makes a Green, shade 5 face shield for the Bionic headgear I mentioned earlier, and you can see the green shield in the Bionic headgear photo. (MSC order # 83715961 and sells them for $33.25). Jackson sells an ordinary (polycarbonate) face shield in 5 (MSC order # 63250377 for $20.20) and example of what I mean when I say "ordinary" or "flat that curves around your face" is shown above.

And now for a little shout out for lungs! The plasma cutting process produces fumes and gasses that may create a health hazard to your working environment, the operator, and to the workers in the facility. Many people are surprised to hear this. It is very important to have a fresh breeze of air or to maintain proper ventilation when plasma cutting. But I'll get back on track talking about that in my upcoming blog posts (& my search for 3M's elusive 9100 FX Air, or the equivalent that I come up with!)

Please also remember to always wear non flammable welding aprons and clothing to insure that if a piece of spark, metal or any other debris flies or comes into contact with you, your heat resistant clothing will protect you properly. And I also I can't say enough about steel toed (&/or composite toed) boots. Why they don't come in high heels?? Machining equipment doesn't come shorter, right?! I dunno. But again, that's another post someday. Steel toed boots on girls are sexy. Ask any guy. I prefeWolverine Women's DuraShocks 6" Slip Resistant Work Boots (in brown). Wearing them every day, they last about a year and come in under $100. Again, your wear may vary, but eventually I end up burning holes in them and having to replace them right after Xmas. 

(And if anyone has good suggestions for “Made in America” options on any of these that I have listed, please feel free to comment below or write me at

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