YHS Dust Masks

YHS (Your Health & Safety) have recently come up with further design improvements to two of their P2V dust masks (although with a P2V rating, dust isn’t all they can cope with!) which are worth mentioning.  For a disposable mask, these are impressively comfortable.

YHS P2V Dust Masks

I’ve been trying out both the DM20 and DM2000 models – one is cup shaped, and the other flat fold, but even that distinction between them is no longer valid, as the latest design of the DM20 (presumably an upgrade from the DM2) now also stores flat with a clever central seam.  Both still have the exhalation valve which decreases the likelihood of your breath escaping up into your safety glasses producing that pretty (and view restricting) fog/halo, and means the mask lasts longer as it doesn’t saturate with perspiration and breathing vapour.

My model is on strike!

The design of the DM20 in particular has significantly changed my opinion of the cup shape type of face mask – it is very comfortable, and both masks seal well on the face, without being uncomfortable, or unnecessarily tight.  The material used in both models is particularly soft, again adding to the overall comfort.

2008 Safety Week Wrap

So that was safety week on the Wood Whisperer Network. Hope you got something out of it!

It seems from reading around, it is the same mistakes being made over and over and over…..and over and ov… (alright, enough)

What is it, that it takes a personal experience before we often will start doing the right thing? Advocates of pushsticks are often those who copped a massive kickback, machinery guards by those who have been cut, electrical safety by those who have been stung, material handling by those who can no longer lift without pain and so on. The whole OHS movement (if I can call it that) is constantly berated for being too pedantic, for making things too hard, for being too over zealous. It doesn’t do itself any favours because that is true to a certain extent, but the principle behind it is harnessing the collective wisdom to prevent injury before it occurs.

What I was talking about in the first video at the start of the week touched on this topic. Sure, safety devices are wonderful things, but they have to work for, and with the individual. If they make the job harder, less safe, are too cumbersome etc, then they will be abandoned. I don’t want myself or others to not use safety equipment, I want safety equipment to be designed to work with the activity, rather than hinder it.

Safety glasses and ear defenders are not too bad in their design and implementation, but dust masks are still poor. Perhaps the concept is too hard, or the thinking is “if you need it, you’ll put up with the poor design”. They are generally not comfortable (especially in hot weather), there are straps everywhere and more often than not it becomes a fight on the face between the mask, the glasses and the hearing protection.

There are ways to alleviate the situation…somewhat. Dust collection on the machine and dust filtering the workshop air all decrease the hazard posed.

Air cleaners such as this from Carbatec for around $370 are worth considering

To quote from their site “Once you’ve finished cutting and sanding operations and have turned off your dust extractor and protective mask, you might think you’ve been sufficiently safety conscious about protection from dust inhalation. However when you see a ray of sunlight come through window you can see that that a lot dust remains suspended in the air.” I know for a fact the same is true in my workshop, and by the end of a good day’s woodworking, my lungs are not so contented. So this is part of my workshop poor practice that I want to address.

So what else is there that suffers from the same “either the safety solution is perfect or I won’t use it at all” mentality? I’ll leave that to you to think about for your own workshop. What guards do you leave off, what safety gear do you not wear, what safety aids do you ignore because of the extra time, and hassle it is to include them? Give some thought to why this is so. If it is because they make the job harder, even increase the risk? Then don’t abandon the concept – find a better device! If your saw guard annoys the hell out of you, find a different design, if your safety specs make it harder to see what you are doing, get some new ones.

Don’t become a safety zealot only once you’ve suffered an injury. There are enough of them already (and good on them for raising people’s awareness), but let’s not continue recruiting to their ranks. Safety is much better as a preventative, than it is as at preventing a re-occurrence!

Work smart, work safe.

Episode 26 Safety Week 2008 Introduction

Introduction to Safety Week on the Wood Whisperer Network 2008

A quick introduction and discussion about personal safety equipment, not only using it, but ensuring that the solution actually works for you so that you actually use the equipment when needed, rather than leaving it sitting on the shelf as being too cumbersome or uncomfortable to bother using.

Also too – the first (brief) look inside Stu’s Shed 1.7 as it continues to undergo its physical transformation.

Some more tools Ebayed

Again, starting at 99c (sure hope I don’t get too burnt!)

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Triton Powered Respirator

250mm GMC SCMS

Triton Plunge Drill

Triton Router Template & Accessory Kit

Full description in the Ebay listing.

Edit – have added the GMC 12 1/2″ Thicknesser to the party

Edit2 – Added GMC Rotary Tool and GMC 2400W Blower-Vac

Wood Dust and Respiratory Protection

When we are working in our workshops, we readily reach for eye and ear protection (well we certainly should be), and I think that I’m pretty good where it comes to being consistent in using these items of PPE (personal protection equipment).

Something that seems to get overlooked often is respiratory protection. Now I am sure that there are a lot of woodworkers who reach for the dust mask as readily as they do the rest of their PPE, but I know that I am a bit slack in that regard, and I’m sure that I am not the only one.

So I am going to try to do better. In part, my ambivalence towards dust masks is that the effect on the body is less easy to see than, say, the immediacy of a wood chip in the eye, or the ringing of the ears after using loud equipment. The bit of a cough, or poor night’s sleep just doesn’t carry the same weight to convince one to change bad habits – even though in the long run, it’s the lungs that will really make life hell if they’ve been abused.

The next couple of videos (which have been shot, but are still in the editing phase) are still the old me, bad habits and all. From then on, I’m going to make an effort to set a better example.

I’ve been doing a bit of research into it, and there are a number of solutions that are acceptable for the woodworking shed. The nuisance masks sold, often in packs of 5 for a couple of bucks are a complete waste of time. Sure, they cut some particulate out of the air, but they are not worth the paper they are made out of, when for just a few dollars more, you can get a properly graded dust mask.

There are (in Australia) 2 ratings for masks that are appropriate for woodworkers. P1 is usable in atmospheres where the particulate level is 4 times the recommended Occupational Exposure Level (OEL). P2 is usable in atmospheres where it is up to 10 times the recommended OEL. This is the level of mask I’ve decided to go with. Sometimes, it gets very dusty, and the cost difference between the two is negligible.

If you are working with finishes, you may also want to consider one that protects against gaseous contaminants.

Next, you need to choose what sort of mask you want – disposable or not, full face of partial. The cheapest are like a paper based mask, disposable, but don’t cope well for wearing over extended periods. They can be improved by getting one with an exhalation valve, which improves wearer comfort.

The next level is a more permanent mask – made of rubber, which then take disposable cartridges. These are definitely worth the money in the long term, and I used to use one for a long time (until one very hot summer when the rivers of perspiration filling the mask caused me to throw it away in disgust). Think I might get another one though – they are very good where it comes to respiratory protection.

The final level (well as far as woodworkers are concerned) is a full shield, such as the Triton Respirator

This provides a full range of protection.  A full face shield, quality ear protection (that can clip out when not needed) coupled with a hard hat.  The hard hat is not really necessary, but provides a good platform to attach all the components to.  For the respiratory protection, there is a shroud around the base of the helmet which restricts air access to the interior of the helmet, and an external air supply that causes a positive pressure inside the helmet.  This air passes through a prefilter which keeps the large bits of wood and dust out of the mechanics of the air pump, and then the standard air filters (typically P2 rating) to provide fully cleaned air to the helmet.

I have used the helmet a lot (to the point that I’ve worn out one of the shrouds, and two of the face shields – each is a consumable), but don’t enjoy wearing it where it is not necessary for the job.  It is a matter of the right tool for the job, and it is nice to have a range.  In the same way that a sledge hammer can be used for nails, and pins, it is better to have 3 different hammers, one for each type of job!

In Australia, all wood dust is considered carcinogenic, and the dust from manufactured board (such as MDF) is especially harmful. So hopefully this provides a bit of info that will help in making the right decision where it comes to respiratory protection, and I will be taking my own advice as well!

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