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Well folks, another great issue of Auto Art Magazine and the opportunity to give you a few more safety tid-bits to ponder over. I should be writing a piece about using common sense when loading your vehicle with sheet metal, after I fell out of my van today while doing just that. Strained a couple of muscles that will certainly be stiff in the morning, but a few strokes on the old screen press and they should limber right up. Could have been worse, broken bones don’t lend well to producing work which generates income. To make a long story short, I simple tried to cut corners to save time and lost. This is usually the case; we often cut corners in the name of time or money, and the first thing that we usually sacrifice is safety. There has been some discussion about how to make your own air-supplied respirator. I don’t now about you, but if I’m working in an environment that requires that kind of protection, I want something that has been manufactured by a reputable company, were adequate testing has proven the worthiness of their product. Bad idea to cut corners when you’re dealing with your lungs. Without them, you can’t breath!
Air supplied respirators come in various styles depending on your intended use. Most are full faced, almost like putting on a gas mask. They have a rather long air hose and an elaborate filtration system. There are a few, used primarily by sand blasters, that have hoods with construction helmets inside and a thick glass viewing panel incased in a canvas cover that is designed to completely cover the entire upper body. Prices are all over the spectrum as well. On average, most of the unites I looked at on the Internet for a single mask set-up were in the $800 to $1200 dollar range. Unites with their own compressors are a little more expensive.
So why can’t you just hook up an air hose between your favorite respirator and air compressor? The average shop compressor is lubricated with oil and the compression of air produces a condensation of water droplets that find their way into the air hoses and ultimately into your lungs. Simply put, oil in your lungs is BAD NEWS. Your lungs will not function when its components are covered with oil. Remember, you’re dealing with things that are on a microscopic level, and it doesn’t take much to have a bad day! Contaminated water build-up in your lungs is not a good thing either.
The water that sites in the bottom of your air compressor is a breading ground for all kinds of micro organisms that get pumped right into your lungs; and last but certainly not least, some compressors produce carbon monoxide that you won’t realize is in your system until it’s too late. A good air supplied respirator system has a small oil-less air pump with 25 to 50 ft of hose that does not compress the air, it simply moves it through a well designed filtration system from an area that is outside the paint booth or far enough away from the area you are working in as to not pick up any of the bad stuff you are trying to avoid.
There are some new masks on the market that are designed for wood workers. They have a nice face shield that semi-seals to your face with a built in fan, which moves air in through a filter and then out of the mask. While they work great for their intended us, filtering out wood dust, they are not designed to filter out the kind of stuff most of us shoot out of a spray gun. Remember, the idea is to breath air that is coming from a location far away from the air you are contaminating.
Cutting corners is when it comes to safety is never a good idea. While you may get short-term satisfaction, the long term pay-off may cost you much more than you could imagine. Take the time to research what your needs are and get the best equipment you can. Your health may depend on those decisions. There’s always a choice. Hopefully with the right information you can make the best one.
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