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I Forge Iron

The Importance of PPE

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I do a lot of MIG and TIG welding, cutting, grinding, sanding, milling, lathe work and painting for my art projects. 

I am much more safety conscious now than when I was younger.  I have multiple sets of hearing protection, eye pro, half masks with P100 filters, full face shields and even full face masks with filters when I work.

I have had several pieces of metal in my eye even while wearing eye pro. Due to that, I will not do any smithing without eye pro. I have also lost enough of my hearing to not be able to afford to lose more. 

Not trying to be a know it all, but I am quite an advocate for safety measures on another forum. I also understand that occasionally I drop the ball and need to remind myself or have others remind me to put the gear on for a 10 second job. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Great. Yes, I've been down the misery road on metal in my eyes even with safety glasses and a bit of hearing loss. Never had good focused hearing in crowded conversations or noisy conditions. It can be quite embarrassing.  

Good to know you are working with the right ppe. I need a reminder once in a while myself, and sadly sometimes that reminder is a close call. Ugh. Always working to improve. 

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On 11/7/2018 at 6:38 PM, psacustomcreations said:

I have had several pieces of metal in my eye even while wearing eye pro. Due to that, I will not do any smithing without eye pro. I have also lost enough of my hearing to not be able to afford to lose more. 

I started out old school many years ago..  I had read in more than a few old blacksmithing books that eye protection was just squinting..   I followed this  though over the years I have tried 50 some odd safety glasses full face shields and I also have a filtered welding mask.. 

From the start I always wore hearing protection..  But in 40 years I've only gotten metal in my eye once when not wearing eye protection and no squinting.. 

If I squint I have never gotten anything in my eyes.. With this said I have gotten metal in my eye 4 times now wearing eye protection and then the fact that they fog make the job useless.. 

I found some goggles last year that I like a lot and now that I am involved with organizations like NEB and teaching and such I always were eye protection.. 

Up to finding this goggles it was a pretty crappy thing..  The Clic goggles work very well and I keep anti fog/cleaner handy..

The other proplem is I now forget to squint so it's all the better to just wear them..   My favorites are the    Clic goggles,  Bionix full face sheild , and my Miller Titanium elite with Papr.. 

I've been looking for a head unit I can modify so my Miller Papr unit will work with the head unit.. 

Having clean, cooler air blowing over the head and face can be nice.. 

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A month or so ago, I went to the grinder to whip off a cutting burr and got a speck of steel in my eye -- even though I was wearing safety glasses. I now keep my face shield hanging on the grinder, so the only way I can turn the machine on is if I take the face shield off first, which means I put it on Every Single Time. That single five second grinding session cost me money and time that I would much rather have spend on more pleasant things, and while I sustained no permanent damage (at least none that affects my vision), I'm not going to be trusting my luck again.

I currently use cheap safety glasses that fit over my regular glasses, but I've got some prescription safety goggles on order that should be arriving any day now. They have an elastic strap rather than earpieces, so I'm hoping that they'll be more comfortable to wear with over-the-ear hearing protection.

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Because the eye is open more with ppe the potential for metal to get in around the edges goes up..  electric power tools makes this likelyhood even greater..

Years back I did research on colored safety glasses vs clear lens..  

The research showed time and time again the iris opens more with darker lenses vs clear... thus letting in more light..

This research was in place with the uvb/UVA's arguments and long term exposure..

After reading all the materials I could find in regards to applying it to forging and solid fuel forges I immediately went back to clear lenses for basic forge work.   Most quality clear lenses offer some UV protection while letting the iris close up as it naturally should.. 

I'm not saying to do what I do but you can choose to do your own research..

This past summer, I had a guy helping me on the hammer build where I'd ask him if he could see the difference between bright yellow and white and with his colored protection glasses anything over a bright orange looked the same..

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IR, UVA, UVB is what I should have wrote.. Anyhow thanks for adding..    Again there are clear lenses that offer some protection.. 

We all worry about hurting ourselves and one can take a very aggressive approach to PPE..   this is great.. All for it in fact..  

Sadly or more in line with truth..   We will all suffer some form of break down based on DNA or Gene's..   WE can falsely believe we can mitigate what most would construde as a common sense approach only to end up with that very thing we are trying to avoid.. 

The expression is " Accidents happen"..   They do.. I know 3 people that never smoked in their life nor were around smokers all died from lung cancer.   

Anyhow,  the best we can do is for today..     


UK Cataract Statistics
  • Approximately 330,000 cataract operations are performed each year in England alone.
  • It is estimated that 30% of people 65 years or older have a visually impairing cataract in one or both eyes.
  • 10% of people 65 or over had already had cataract surgery.
  • 95% of cataracts are age-related, usually after age 40.
  • Approximately 40% patients undergo cataract surgery on both eyes.
  • Approximately 4-5% of patients require general anaesthesia to undergo cataract surgery.
  • Average expected rates of cataract surgery are approximately 530 per 100,000 (0.53%) population or 3200 per 100,000 (3.2%) for those over 65 years old per year.
  • Some populations have a much higher prevalence of cataract. For instance, 77% of British people originating from the Indian Subcontinent aged 42 years or older have cataracts.
  • There is a threefold variation in the number of people having cataract surgery across England due to differences in health commissioning policies.
  • 9 in every 10 cataract surgery commissioning policies contained criteria that followed “neither national guidance nor scientific evidence.”
  • Over 50% of commissioners have arbitrary thresholds to restrict access to cataract surgery .
  • It is estimated have an incremental cost per quality adjusted life year (QALY) of £13,172 over an individual’s lifetime (assuming an anticipated lifespan of 10 years following surgery).
  • Phacoemulsification (removal of the cataractous lens using ultrasound) is the standard surgical technique and is used in over 99.7% cataract operations in the NHS.
Worldwide Cataract Statistics
  • Cataracts is the leading cause of blindness in middle and low income countries.
  • It is the second leading cause of visual impairment after refractive errors (uncorrected refractive errors such as myopia, hyperopia or astigmatism: 43%, cataracts: 33%, glaucoma: 2%).
  • Cataracts effects 24 million Americans age 40 and older.
  • By age 80, more than 50% all Americans have cataracts.
  • More than 95% of surgeries are successful with fewer than 5% of cases experiencing complications such as inflammation, bleeding, infection and retinal detachment.
  • The US spends $10.7 Billion per year treating cataracts. The costs include medical costs for diagnosed disorders, medical costs attributable to low vision, vision aids, vision assistive devices and adaptations and direct services including special education and assistance programs.
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For what its worth, I like to use these Pyramex full lens magnifying safety glasses. I have them in 1.5 for an arms length at the forge, 2.0 for a bit closer, 2.5 for MIG welding, and 3.00 for TIG welding. 

If the link is not allowed, please let me know or remove it. 

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I have never been able to get used to bifocals so I like the full lens style glasses. I will also use a 1.5 on my face glasses  plus a 1.5 cheater in the welding hood.  The nice thing about the glasses is that I can still wear a half mask respirator. 

I also have the Bionix face shield with the clear, shade 3, and shade 5 for plasma cutting. 

When I am doing some work on the metal lathe where I am scraping old paint off tanks and chips and dust are flying everywhere, I have a 3M full face mask with filters. 

Edited by Mod34
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My daily wear trifocals have polycarb lenses with anti glare/uv coating and side shields. They fit tight on my brow and do well enough for basic safety. However if I'm doing something that puts junk in the air I have a pair of 3M bug eye goggles that fits over them and is darned near water proof. I have a face shield too if necessary, say for messing with chemicals I don't want on my face. And yeah, I have head cover for those days.

I have to differ strongly with you on the squinting thing Jennifer or haven't you ever had to pick stuff out of your hide? Your eyelid is about as tough as the skin between your fingers. Is that enough armor between you and blind?

Ever look at blacksmiths depicted in art? Even the oldest are one eyed. Lose the second and you're a cripple. Alms . . .Alms.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Frosty reread what I wrote..  squinting is a skill set of the past..

I personally in 40 years a smithing have never gotten bonked in the face with any hand operation or forging so never worried about a spec, or bar, or hardie going through my eye lid..  

Just scale while forging..

Where I always get hit from is just after a large forge weld and the old scale pops off..  3X was from this..

Again  using electric or machinery ups the anti with flying objects at both increased speeds and sizes.  

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It's not so much a matter of being effective for a particular process it's more a matter of habit. Habits can be both life savers or widow makers. If you have ONE practice regarding PPE then it's much less likely you'll use the wrong one for the job. If it's a HARD shop rule that nobody enters without eye protection then it's a lot less likely you'll do what John did recently. Note he now hangs the face shield where you can NOT start the grinder without moving it. This is a good habit builder.

Something us old hands have to bear in mind is who we're talking too. There are things you and I can do in reasonable safety, been getting away with some for more than 50 years in my case but I won't even talk about them here. I don't want some newcomer thinking it's THE way to do things without being able to judge relative threat levels. 

One problem I run into is dirty eye protection in winter when the spray bottle of Windex is frozen. I have micro fiber glass cleaning cloths too. The corrections for my tri focals hasn't changed in two exams, the next pair I have made will be reversed, long distance on the bottom, middle and reading lens on top. Tri focals make anything at foot level a trip, slip, fall hazard, walking on uneven icy surfaces like outdoors right now is seriously scary dangerous. It's THE time to put my glasses in my pocket.

Frosty The Lucky.


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Your Windex is freeing?

The SLAG, recommends that you reserve one of the bottles for very cold weather.  Add some rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) to the solution in the "cold weather" Windex.

That will lower the freezing point. 

Just had thought, perhaps you can make and market,  "Frosty's Alaska cold weather,  de-icer".

Good luck with that.



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This just in,

A "hack",  published today,  gives more information on melting ice.

The suggested ratio is two thirds water and one third isopropyl alcohol.

Another name for isopropyl alcohol  is 'rubbing alcohol', or isopropanol.

The freezing point for straight isopropyl alcohol is -128 degrees F,  or -89 C.

The removal of ice from the car's windscreen is very rapid.

It beats scraping by miles.


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  • 1 year later...

MJLampert, I have never heard of that.. I will have to try it.  

I use several different products and not happy with any of them really. 

I use  Cat spit,  Seadrops, a product from rainx, spit, toothpaste, Dawn and ivory soap. 

I still find the click goggles I wear to be about the best while at the forge but once I stop moving while working they fog up too. 

this time of year everything fogs outside. 

The Shop is nearling completion so will be different once in there. 

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