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OSHA PPE

  • The Importance of Protective Gear When Working with Asbestos

    Here at Safetyinstruction.com we are always grateful to include the thoughts and knowledgeable information of all those who specialize in certain areas of expertise. This article came to us from Kyle Walsh, Kyle is a member of the Public Outreach Department for the Mesothelioma Center:

    The Importance of Protective Gear When Working with Asbestos

    Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was once revered for its versatility

    and its high heat resistance. The valuable substance was once added to a variety of products, including construction materials, insulation, roofing tiles, fireproofing spray and so much more. For decades, the mineral was used throughout homes and job sites.

    Decades later, experts linked asbestos exposure to multiple illnesses: Malignant mesothelioma, chronic lung disease, lung cancer and more. Unfortunately, it was too late. The substance had been used in so many places that millions today remain at risk of developing asbestos-related conditions.

    However, you can still protect yourself from contamination by wearing protective gear such as respirators, goggles and coveralls.

    Where to Find Asbestos

    Because of its versatility, asbestos was added to a wide array of products.

    Many people may not realize their daily activities may have exposed them to asbestos. There are three key places to watch for the deadly substance: Your job, your home and public buildings you frequent.

    According to the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety, over 75 different occupational groups have exposed workers to the deadly mineral. The Asbestostop five occupations notorious for exposure:

    Construction

    Industrial

    Power plants

    Shipyards

    Firefighters

    If you work in a different industry, you are not in the clear. It’s important to watch for any possible spills or exposure sites and to report them immediately.

    Asbestos can also be found in homes. Most homes and buildings constructed between the 1930s and the late 1970s contain the toxic substance. When not handled properly, home and building renovations and do-it-yourself projects can take a dangerous turn.

    When undisturbed, the mineral does not pose a major health concern. The real issue arises when it is disturbed because microscopic fibers break off and become airborne. In turn, these tiny fibers can be inhaled or ingested, which can then become lodged in the lining of the lungs or abdomen. The scarring that results from these lodged fibers eventually leads to asbestos-related conditions that then require medical treatment.

    That's why wearing protective gear is so important to your health.

    Preventing Exposure with Protective Gear

    If possible, avoid any asbestos exposure.

    Do not try to handle asbestos on your own. If that is not an option for you, be sure to take all possible precautions by using personal protective equipment. This protective gear can prevent exposure to the toxic mineral, which may limit your risk for mesothelioma and other diseases.

    According to the Minnesota Department of Health, “In addition to using proper removal procedures, using personal protective equipment will significantly reduce your exposure to asbestos fibers.”

    Respirators

    Respirators are an important form of protective gear when working with any form of toxic mineral. By purifying the air you are breathing, respirators can limit the inhalation of the deadly fibers. It’s important to get a respirator that fits properly; if it does not fit, they provide little to no protection.

    If possible, request a fit test before purchasing a respirator. Given the nature of respirators, it is important to talk to your doctor before using one as it can cause your lungs to work harder.

    Coveralls

    Coveralls are essential for keeping debris off of your clothes. There are numerous reports of asbestos exposure causing mesothelioma from washing someone’s clothes. By making sure you wear coveralls over your clothes, leaving them at the job site and showering before coming home, you can limit the number of fibers taken home with you.

    Disposal coveralls are also a good solution to prevent recontamination because all asbestos will be tossed in the trash with the used coveralls. The downside is that many disposable coveralls are hot and uncomfortable, but a little discomfort is certainly better than possible asbestos exposure.

    Goggles

    Not only is protective eyewear important for protecting you from any flying debris, but it will also limit the amount of loose asbestos fibers that can pierce the delicate parts of your eyes. They are especially useful when removing floor tiles that may contain asbestos.

    Asbestos is a toxic mineral with deadly consequences. By limiting your exposure and wearing protective gear, you can limit your risk of developing a variety of debilitating diseases.

    Again we want to thank Kyle and the Public Outreach Department for the Mesothelioma Center! You can reach Kyle by E-mail at kwalsh@asbestos.com

    If you are interested in posting your thoughts on a safety topic please give us a call here or send us an E-mail at info@safetyinstruction.com and let’s talk about it.

  • I’m Just Going to Remove a Little Snow

    At Least today it’s not below zero. It’s still dark outside and once again find myself getting snowblowingready to remove the latest 7” blanket of snow from my driveway and sidewalks. I remind myself that I’m not praying hard enough for spring, and my daffodils are still under 5 feet of snow. This exercise is becoming too routine. I need to caution myself however, because in routine you can find carelessness. So I need to check my list; Coat, hat, mittens, boots, hearing protection, check all there. As a safety guy this is PPE or Personal Protective Equipment. Ok now I’m out of the door and going to be working in cold conditions, and need to consider winter safety.

    I walk past my golf clubs on the way out, and muttered a few words to them about being patient. I opened the shed door, where a hungry but tired snow blower awaits the inevitable wake up. I’ll make a visual check for anything that might have shaken itself loose or broke from the last outing just a day or two earlier. I need to check for ice that might impede the auger or snow chute. Gas, check, oil, check, I want to refuel now so I don’t have to do that when the engine is hot. I check to make sure my scarf or string from my hood are secure and out of the way of any moving parts. One good pull and she starts right up. Keep the doors open and be cautious of carbon monoxide poisoning. Before I leave I grab my shovel and need to remind myself to lift with my legs, not my back. Maybe I should stretch a little first. OK now I’m ready to go.

    As the sun makes its first appearance in days, I have yet another thought. “What If?” What If my snow blower becomes disabled, can I park it in a handicap parking stall? No, just kidding. If the auger or the snow chute becomes plugged, or a shear pin gives way, I need to shut the snow blower off. Snow blowers are a common cause of lacerations and amputations. Use a long stick to clear debris or wet snow from your machine, and proper tools to replace the shear pin. There are other issues to guard against while performing this exercise; exhaustion, dehydration, heart attack. Take time out to rest in a warm area, and get something to drink. All this sounds like a little overkill but if taken seriously it becomes a part of your safety culture and will be second nature, something you can pass on by example. Some of this information can be found on the OSHA web site , and you thought you were just going to remove a little snow.

    Winter is miserable enough without slipping, snow-blowing, driving in white-outs, you name it! SafetyInstruction.com is here to make sure you and your employees are prepared! Prevent winter accidents with our array of Winter Safety Training products. For all of your safety needs, SafetyInstruction.com is here to make sure your prepared!

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