Sandblasting can be pretty dangerous work. When abrasive hits the surface of materials, fine particles spew out of the sandblaster and can get into small, sensitive crevices such as eyes, mouth, and nose. That’s why it’s important to wear goggles, sandblasting cabinet gloves and a mouth and nose covering at a minimum. A good dust mask is recommended. Look for a dust mask that has a dual respirator filter. Don’t try to skimp on money, it will cost you in the long run. Without a good dust mask, you could develop silicosis. Silicosis is a serious, life-threatening lung disease that is caused by breathing in tiny bits of silica which exist naturally in sand and stone. Over prolonged periods of exposure, silica can scar your sensitive lung tissue, making breathing increasingly more difficult. It might be tempting to be macho, but in the long run, it could cost you your life. It’s just not worth it.
For the same reason, it’s important to only use sand that is designated for use in a sandblaster. Play or beach sand just won’t cut it. Only use authorized blaster abrasive. Play sand has an abnormally high amount of silica, which kills when ingested. Even though glass has traditionally been made with large amounts of silica, the ground glass that is sometimes used in sandblaster mixes is made from a soda-lime glass which has very little silica. Still, it’s better to be safe than sorry, as an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Whether there is a little silica or a lot, it’s important to take the right precautions for your health.
Protect your eyes by wearing protective glasses or goggles, even if you are wearing a sandblasting cabinet. These are especially important when you are sandblasting in a room or outdoors. Air-supplied helmets are even more ideal for your protection because they provide safe, cool, filtered air to keep any byproduct from the sandblaster out of your eyes.
Be sure to wear long-sleeved shirts and long-sleeved pants along with close-toed shoes while operating a sandblaster. You never know when a sandblaster might malfunction and send abrasive everywhere. It’s better to be prepared so you can avoid contact with abrasive or other flying parts. The best protection would be a professional sandblasting outfit. A good sandblasting outfit would include a respirator, sandblasting cabinet gloves, visor and overall clothing protection. Don’t worry about how it looks. There is a great variety of sandblasting outfits available, many in very stylish leather or with a streamlined jumpsuit look for even the most fashion-conscious (or for the least, for those workers that don’t worry about that sort of thing).
Whatever gear you choose for your safety, remember to always think proactively with your health and safety in mind. When you have all the right gear and the tools for the job, sandblasting can be well, a blast.