Cheating on safety has been something that everyone is guilty of. Sure, I have just closed my eyes to make a quick spot weld or forgotten to use my safety glasses behind my helmet. But I have been lucky.

PPE seems to be more hassle than its worth until you need it. The other day, I had just installed a new grinding wheel on a grinder when it detonated. I was thankful that not only did I have my safety glasses on, but also had a grinding shield. Until recently, I did not wear a grinding shield as a general rule, thinking that a pair of safety glasses was enough. The exploded pieces hit various parts of my body and I was glad that I had all the "required" PPE on that I needed, including sleeves, gloves, shield and glasses.

Many times, we tend to under-evaluate the need for PPE, seeing no immediate harm to our bodies. Sure, its cooler to take off that welding jacket. But when we do, we're exposing our skin to radiation that is many times stronger than the Sun. This type of radiation has the same cancerous effects on our body that the Sun does and we think little about it.

Its easy to spot a weld with out donning a hood or flipping it down while we hold a piece in place with our other hand. But the radiation is still there. While, one flash probably won't blind you, its the cumulative effect that leads to eye issues.

Hearing protection is a touchy subject among welders too. Certainly, the clang of hammering or the whine of grinding can have long term effects on hearing. But there are other sounds that can injure the ears. Mig welding and stick welding typically produce sounds that are in the harmful decibel range. While its important to be able to hear whats going on around you, its definitely important to stay protected from the din of the work environment. Selecting the right hearing protection is important so that you can remain aware of what is going on around you.

Anyone that has picked up a hot piece of metal that was thought to be cool with their bare hands can tell you about the importance of gloves. Never assume a piece of metal is cool, especially when working with Stainless. Always keep an extra pair near by.

Respiratory/ventilation equipment is important to the welder as well. Open spaces are not generally a major concern, but know the material you are working with and the hazards of the fumes that you are breathing. Enclosed, or tight spaces will require either a respirator or fume evacuation system. Prepare and plan for the type of work you will be doing, whether its in the garage, or in the field making a repair.

Hard hats, steel toes and other safety equipment may be required by the work place, OSHA or just by plain common sense. Don't try to cheat it. Just do it. Sweat it out and make it happen. Your life, limbs, vision, and hearing depend upon it. Carry it around with you in a convenient knapsack or duffle bag if its too much to tote under the arm.