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George Oliphant wants you to play it safe

It should be common sense to put on safety glasses before you cut or smash something. Or to make sure you have ear protection before you fire up a machine which makes it impossible to hear anything. And, of course, before you go to work outside, you lather up with sunscreen. Even if it's overcast. Right? These protective measures should be as routine as buckling your seat belt when you drive a car, or putting on a bike helmet before going for a ride. However, I find that taking safety precautions on the job site is too often the exception – not the rule. This is crazy! They’re called accidents because they are unplanned and happen quickly without warning. Before you start any project, it’s imperative that you take the time to protect yourself. Protect your eyes, ears, lungs and skin. It's easy and the alternative is nothing you want to deal with.

The eyes have it

Use proper safety glasses that fit and are comfortable. Sunglasses won't do the trick. Trust me, I've been in the labs and seen the tests. When regular glass gets hit by debris, the outcome is ugly. As with any project, you want to use the right tool for the job.

Say what?

There are many different types of ear protection: from ear plugs, to ear bands, to WorkTunes that combine ear protection with a built-in radio. Just make sure you use something. Once your hearing is gone, it’s not coming back. You’d be surprised to know how many tools we use every day that can do damage to our ears.

Breathe easy

Most of the dust you inhale on a job site is filled with microscopic particles that can potentially do serious damage to your lungs and respiratory system. Whether it's sanding, or cutting or demo, you're going to be kicking up harmful dust that you need to protect yourself from. Use a respirator that catches at least 95% of all airborne particles, if not 100%. The packaging will inform you as to how protective the respirator is and where & when to use it. I personally swear by anything made by 3M.

Lather up

Melanoma is the most preventable form of cancer, as long as you protect yourself from the sun – even on cloudy days. Make sure you use SPF 30. Put it on 15 minutes before getting to work and reapply every two hours.

If you follow these 4 common sense safety tips you'll most likely live a longer, healthier, happier and more productive life. Remember: safety first.

-by George Oliphant