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General safety items for volunteers

One of the many challenges we face as CAV team leaders is keeping our safety eyes open 100 percent of the time while we are on the job site. Speaking from my own experience, you can be drawn in so many directions at the same time that all you can do is try to remember question 2, 3, 4, 5. In these cases it’s quite possible to miss the person using a skill saw without eye protection. This requires that we take a breath and realize that our most important role is the safety of those we are responsible for. All those other questions we attempt to solve and answer are important but secondary to ensuring that all team members are working safely.

Key items that are really basic for our jobsite work include safety glasses, hard hats, gloves in some cases and hearing protection.

  • Safety glasses
    • Diana and I have added eyeglass cleaner and eyeglass wipes to our personal safety kit.
    • It’s been my experience that most affiliates have a box of safety glasses which have accumulated work dust, dirt and sometimes mud for a number of months.
    • Asking a volunteer to put them on without cleaning them may be a worse hazard than not wearing them.
    • If you find clean ones, consider it a good day.
  • Ear protection
    • Hearing protection is necessary in some circumstances.
    • Common tools used that warrant hearing protection include routers, compound miter saws and tile saws to name a few.
    • Affiliates should have either the small sponge plugs or the type of hearing protection that covers the ears.
    • I find that carrying a few sets of the sponge plugs helps when we can’t locate the affiliates’.
  • Hard hats
    • Hard hats are important especially when you have people working above others.
    • I have seen an incident where a husband working on a roof shot a nail through the roof sheeting and hit his wife on the head with the nail. He swore it was an accident! Try to explain your way out of that one. Luckily, the majority of the nail’s force was absorbed by the roof sheeting.
    • Usually the affiliate will have enough for those that need them.
  • Gloves
    • Gloves can be a plus or minus.
    • For instance, many people try to use loose garden gloves or leather gloves while using a circular saw. I was taught years ago these gloves add an extra level of danger as the loose gloves can be caught by the saw teeth and actually pull fingers into the blade.
    • On the other hand, for working with framing, nailing etc., use of gloves can save people’s hands from blisters or slivers or the thumb hit that missed the nail.
    • My personal preference is to use carpenter gloves available at Lowe’s or Home Depot. They are tight fitting to your hand and fingers and allow a high level of dexterity. The only drawback is that they do wear out about every three months with constant use.

Keep safe.
Frank Peccia,
Keizer, Oregon