Safety and Maintenance Tips

June 12, 2023

Never take your hearing for granted. It just takes one exposure to a loud noise to damage or even kill your eardrum nerves. Anyone who shoots firearms at a range is all too aware of this, which is why any intelligent shooter always wears some type of ear protection.

While gunshots are not the norm in your shop (at least I hope not), certain situations can pose serious hearing damage (loud engine backfire, an inflating tire popping loose and “exploding,” use of an air hammer or any other loud pneumatic tool. Any noise over 70 decibels can be harmful. Anything above 120 decibels can cause immediate hearing damage.

Any type of hearing protection is better than nothing (passive ear muffs for example). If you’re performing a task where you know you’ll be exposed to serious noise levels, consider the use of electronic active/noise cancelling ear protection. While passive ear protection muffles all sounds (and makes it hard to hear someone talking), electronic noise cancelling ear protection allows you to hear normal conversations and sounds, and maintain normal situational awareness, but immediately (within 0.02 seconds) super-dampens a high decibel noise when it occurs. Basically, the best of both worlds.

This type of hearing protection is available in the form of a “traditional” muff (cup on each ear, connected by an overhead band) that features electronic noise cancelling circuitry, as well as ear “buds” that are Bluetooth compatible (programmed/activated by a smart phone or a wristwatch controller). If your shop environment is such that you feel your hearing is at risk, seriously consider one of these options. Once the eardrum is damaged, there’s a good chance the damage is permanent.

Don’t Ignore Your Torque Wrenches

It’s easy for many to forget the need to have torque wrenches checked for calibration on a regular basis. Through use, torque wrenches can lose their calibration, a factor that many tend to ignore, forget, or be unaware.

Any type of torque wrench, whether micrometer “click” style, dial or even digital, should be recalibrated once per year or after about 5,000 cycles, whichever comes first. There are several sources for torque wrench recalibration, including either the wrench manufacturer or independent shops (Angle Repair in Beckley, W. Va., for example). If torque wrench condition is ignored, accuracy will be affected and eventually you can easily find yourself under or over-tightening without realizing it. The cost of recalibration is usually minimal (usually about $25 or so) and turnaround time is usually pretty quick. Once recalibrated, the service shop should attach a sticker indicating the date of service, which will help remind you of the need for the next calibration.

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