The first in a two-part series on boatyard DIY protective equipment:
The PK Safety offices are located near a boat repair facility in Alameda California. Each day we see boat owners and crew members working on their boats wearing substandard protective equipment. Sail or power, boat projects often involve coming into contact with some of the most toxic chemical and paint products on the market. From epoxy to bottom paint to varnish, almost everything that preserves a boat is potentially harmful to the person who applies it if they are not wearing protective equipment.
For the folks we see out our windows, and for any of you who might be working on your boat, here are a few items you’ll want to have and use to keep yourself protected:
Eye protection: Whether you are rolling on paint, varnishing, sanding or applying epoxy coats, eye protection is a must. The Pyramex Clear Face Shield Visor is a popular choice for folks doing bottom jobs where a pneumatic sander may be spraying water-encapsulated toxic bottom paint in every direction. It also helps to keep that stuff out of your mouth. Ingesting bottom paint can affect your central nervous system, and believe us, it tastes terrible.
With the face shield (since it is not considered primary eye protection) or for lighter jobs, folks wear basic safety glasses like the inexpensive Pyramex Ztek Safety Glasses ($2.40), but a better choice is something that has more of a seal and really protects your eyes from blowing dust and debris. We recommend the only slightly more expensive and pretty cool looking V2G Foam Seal Glasses ($6.50).
To protect your skin, we recommend both a Tyvek suit and gloves. This video has a few great tips for Tyvek suits when working with toxic materials. Tyvek suits are great for boat work because they repels some water and most oil as well as dust and mist down to 1 micron.
Gloves should be neoprene or chemically resistant if you are applying bottom paint. We recommend the MCR Safety Neomax Neoprene. While they are a little clunky and can get hot, they provide a great barrier to those especially toxic paints. For regular varnish work or painting, the MicroFlex Nitron One Disposables ($14.20) or the MCR Nitrishield Powder Free Disposables ($73/case of 1,000) both come in boxes of 100 and are an easy way to keep your hands out of the sticky stuff.
Stay tuned for the next boat maintenance DIY post which will cover respirators, boots and ear protection. As always, if you have questions about personal protective equipment, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-800-829-9580 for more information.