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The Best Protective Gear for Every Part of Your Body

If you're getting your hands dirty, make sure your other body parts are safe.

Blue-collar worker, Personal protective equipment, Helmet, Workwear, Engineer, Hard hat, Infrastructure, Miner, Industry, Headgear,

It’s easy to get hurt when you’re working with hand tools, power tools, shop machines and outdoor power equipment. Fortunately, it’s easy to stay safe in the shop and outdoors doing any DIY activity.

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Eyes: Dewalt Anti-Fog Protective Safety Glasses
$7.75 (34% off)

The single most important protective gear you can own is a pair of safety glasses. Not only do they protect your eyes from flying debris, but if you wince or jerk from being hit in the eye while operating a power tool, it could lead to further injury.

Above all, anything that calls itself safety glasses should meet the American National Standards Institute specification Z87.1, which means that it meets high-velocity impact requirements. Major brands of safety eyewear invariably meet this requirement, but if you’re unsure, the Z87 stamp will be on the lens or the eye wear’s temple piece.

These DeWalt telescoping glasses are the best fit we've found and will keep you safe from unexpected debris. 

But there are other options, like these hybrid types that fall somewhere between a goggle and standard safety glasses. They can be a good choice for protection from front and side impacts. 

These glasses from 3M have a removable foam gasket to help seal out dust and have an earpiece design that enables you to keep corded ear plugs attached and untangled. Their anti-fog coating improves clarity. 

Ears: Mpow Noise Reduction Safety Ear Muffs

Ear plugs are a great choice when you need hearing protection that’s simple, compact and disposable. You never have to worry about cleaning or caring for them, and you just toss them out. Plus, they can fit under a ski cap and will not obstruct a hard hat.

These earplugs from Mack’s are a great buy, comfortable and effective. Rubber earplugs on a cord are also compact and they can be washed in soap and water to keep them clean. We’ve used Howard Leight products for years and find them comfortable, effective and durable. 

But if you're ready for maximum noise cancellation, you can use either a padded ear muff, such as the inexpensive but effective MPow (above), which reduces incoming noise by 34 decibels. 

Sound-activated ear phones are activated by a sound wave over a specified limit. These ear phones are triggered by an 89-decibel wave. The advantage to this design, especially in that they can be equipped with microphones that allow you to communicate with another person wearing ear phones. 

Face: Honeywell Bionic Face Shield
$22.50 (41% off)

There are activities such as grinding where even safety glasses don’t provide enough protection. If the wheel shatters or a piece of metal flies, sure your eyes are protected, but your forehead, chin and cheeks are not.

That’s where face masks come in. This U.S.-made product provides wrap-around protection but better clearance between your chin and chest. 

Lungs: 3M Reusable Respirator

There are a range of products that you should wear to protect your lungs against harmless dust, harmful dusts, and chemical fumes.

An ordinary disposable dust mask is good while dusting or cleaning around the house or to wear during shop cleanup. They do contribute to glass fogging however, since they don’t seal particularly well. 

A more substantial, but still disposable mask, is one with an N95 rating. 3M’s product is an industry standard. It’s vent helps to make it cooler to wear and reduces fogging somewhat. Two bands also make for a better, air-sealing fit. Wear this while sanding wood or drywall. 

For maximum protection against welding fumes and paint fumes, choose a reusable respirator (above) fitted with cartridges or filters rated for the hazard. These cartridges may be rated to block out welding fumes, oil-based paints, and pesticides, and other hazards. 

One of the most versatile filters is this one, which is even rated for protection against airborne asbestos and fumes associated with welding, brazing, and torch cutting. But for better odor relief, particularly while applying paints and finishes, choose a filter like this

Hands: Mechanix Wear Utility Work Gloves

To protect your hands from dirt and blisters, the Mechanix Wear utility glove is one of the best we’ve found. And it’s machine washable, which is perfect to remove sweat and ground-in dirt. 

To protect your hands and palms during demolition, choose a glove with impact protection on the knuckles and the back of your hand. These gloves also have palm padding to reduce vibration fatigue while running tools like rotary hammers and rental concrete demolition hammers. 

Legs: Husqvarna Chain Saw Apron Chaps

There’s one activity that puts both professionals and amateurs at high risk of leg injury, especially to the right leg: using a chainsaw to fell and cut up trees. Don’t go into the woods without a pair of chainsaw chaps. Yeah, they’re uncomfortable in warm weather, but a leg gash is even more uncomfortable. 

A lighter weight alternative, especially during warm weather are light weight, chainsaw pants, such as these, built from flexible, abrasion-resistant and chain-stopping fabric.  

Feet: Red Wing Heritage

If your feet get wet, injured from falling objects, or you find yourself slipping and sliding around in the muck for lack of traction, you’re in a bad place. Our selections are based on our research, experience with the brands mentioned, and efforts to locate U.S.-made footwear. Here are picks:

 - For protection from wet and slips

 - Protection from wet and slips but with steel shank arch support.

 - General protection, 6-inch ankle. 

 - General protection, 6-inch ankle protection, steel safety toe

 - General protection, 6-inch ankle, electrical hazards, slips, composite safety toe. 

 - Same as above, 8-inch ankle

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