PPE - Personal Protective Equipment

PPE - Personal Protective Equipment is by far the most important tool that you will have for your fiberglass boat repair.

Working with fiberglass has several classes of hazards that must be dealt with to ensure your health.

The first concern is flying debris and dust. Your eyes are extremely fragile when it comes to shards of flying fiberglass! You MUST wear PPE - safety glasses or a face shield anytime that you are using a power tool. Period.

The second concern is airborne dust and fumes. Get a high quality respirator to protect yourself. I don't mean one of those white dust masks - get one with replaceable cartrages. Use "P100" cartridges that protect against dust, organic vapors, and solvent fumes. These models have a good seal to your face and truly protect your respiratory system.

A good quality half face respirator can be bought for $35 and is worth 5 times that much! Full face models are great for sanding when the dust just "hangs around", but can get hot. These are more expensive (around $125). I use both types.

The third concern is hearing protection. When using power tools, it is simply too easy to use earplugs or muffs. I prefer the foam earplugs. These things are dirt cheap, comfortable, and can be found anywhere. Again - NO EXCUSES!

The last major concern is chemical exposure to skin. Working with fiberglass, you will deal with a wide variety of chemicals and solvents. (On my last boat restoration, I wished that I had bought acetone by the 55 gallon drum!) The effect of long-term exposure to these chemicals is debatable, but I'm sure that they're not good for you. Plan on having a pair or two of chemical-safe rubber gloves for cleanup and dealing with solvents. Get a box of el-cheapo exam gloves for use when applying resin. These will keep the resin off of your hands and your oils off of your work!

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