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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.

  • Boy Did That Go Fast!

    Boy did that go by fast. Did anybody get a chance to visit with summer? I invited summer to come and stay with us for a while. It was a pretty nice offer, but she seemed to have a better offer and is already packed up and gone. Fall has now arrived, but assured me that she could only stay a little while and I should get prepared for the inevitable. Up here in Wisconsin the ice fishermen are already checking out their gear including ice shelters, boots, mittens, tip ups and jig poles. These guys are out shopping for the latest gear to keep warm, but first have to get past the Halloween décor, which is quickly being replaced by Christmas trees. Are you kidding me? As soon as the ice is dangerously thin, some of them will start to venture out, and invariably fall through wishing they’d waited a little longer.

    I’m already getting calls for winter PPE. This makes sense. After last winter it seems nobody wants to get caught without something to keep them warm, besides a fire and a cup of hot chocolate. Now is the time to make sure you’re prepared. Are you working outside in the logging industry, public agencies, construction, are you a School Bus Driver, or employed in an industry that would require you to work outside or in extreme cold temps ? Even if you are working in an unheated or minimally heated warehouse, then please consider Hi-Vis clothing Hi Visibility Winter Jacketfor cold temps.

    The following data is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

    • Data for 2011 are preliminary.

    From 1999 to 2011, a total of 16,911 deaths in the United States, an average of 1,301 per year, were associated with exposure to excessive natural cold. The highest yearly total of hypothermia-related deaths (1,536) was in 2010 and the lowest (1,058) in 2006. Approximately 67% of hypothermia-related deaths were among males.

    Here is another frightening statistic from the department of health: Figures released by the Department of Health show that 28,354 episodes of hypothermia were treated in 2012/13 – an increase of 25% on the year before and 40% on the year before that. Many of these relate to the over-70s and babies, who are more susceptible to the cold.

    As a safety advocate, parent, grandparent, and outdoor enthusiast, I would highly recommend you learn and recognize the signs of hypothermia, and how to treat it. There are several sources for this. I’ve chosen WebMD for a concise list. If you need training, check out your local Red Cross or see your Health and Safety Director where you work, to see if there is an opportunity for participating. If not, encourage them to sponsor a training. Please don’t learn the hard way, and if you must test out the ice make sure it’s in your choice of beverages. I Like root beer.

    From everyone at SafetyInstruction.com, make it a safe day!

    Interested in a complete learning management system for the safety of your employees? Sign up for a walkthrough of our LMS and we’ll show you how your employees can get the best learner experience at a price you can afford!

  • My Mother: A Tribute to Competent Person Training

    I grew up in a family of twelve children, five girls and seven brothers. Little did I realize at the time that apparently OSHA had visited my house and declared “Mom” a competent person.

    The term "Competent Person" is used in many OSHA standards and documents. An OSHA "competent person" is defined as "one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions, which are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees, and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them" [29 CFR 1926.32(f)]. By way of training and/or experience, a competent person is knowledgeable of applicable standards, is capable of identifying workplace hazards relating to the specific operation, and has the authority to correct them. Some standards add additional specific requirements which must be met by the competent person. This definition is taken from OSHA.

    It seemed that Mom was always on the spot to guide us in the direction of sanity. She taught us some of the finer points of working safely in the kitchen, and of course the rewards of taste testing to make sure it was safe for the others. Cleaning was also on her radar, including sanitation. Right to know issues were whose turn it was to do dishes, or sweep the floors. Everybody was involved in cherry picking and pitting for pies and jam. The older boys had garage duty, or loading coal into the furnace hopper. Of course Dad was the force in the repair department, including repairing and glazing windows before putting on the storms in time for winter. Dad also inspected and repaired our 4 buckle boots. Yes PPE was a part of the routine. We didn’t necessarily have safety meetings but were reminded that if we were going out to play ball, to cross the road safely, make sure the dog didn’t follow us, and to look out for your little brothers. I’m not too sure what Mom told the girls except that she would flash the light on and off if they were in the driveway too long with a boyfriend. Mom passed away this past fall, but left us with a lifetime of memories. Competent Person training was passed down. Now I get to be the competent person in my own home, with my wife’s blessing of course.

    Competent person training is a big deal. Why train a competent person? Employers are required by law to comply with a number of OSHA regulations. These regulations are defined and driven by hazards which exist in your workplace. Compliance with these laws indicate that a “Competent Person” must be assigned the responsibility of identifying existing and predictable hazards, and has been given the authority to take corrective action. If you are a Human resource manager, Maintenance Manager, safety program Administrator, Hospital administrator, on a safety committee, process engineer, department manager, Risk manager, or anyone having safety management duties. You should have this type of training. It covers: Introduction to OSHA, components of an effective safety Program, OSHA Record keeping fundamentals, , Intro to Industrial hygiene/toxicology, Job hazard analysis & Procedures, accident investigation, PPE, Hazcom & GHS, LOTO, confined space. Along with that training the trainer could also be a part of this type of training. Seek out, find and enroll in the training you need. Competent Person Training, Your Mother would be proud.

  • Respiratory Fit Testing

    Did you ever buy a suit or a dress without trying it on first? The results can be disastrous especially after a long winter. You’ll find yourself saying, “they must be making these things smaller, I’ve worn this size since high school”, and “when is the wedding? ½ hour?” You wouldn’t take a chance like that would you? Taking a chance like that with a respirator can have equally disastrous results leading to illness, long term health problems, and can even be fatal. In a different lifetime I wore an OD (olive drab) uniform for the army. During basic combat training we were given the finer techniques of donning and fitting a “Gas Mask” They marched us into a shed, one squad at a time, with our masks on, and if you were paying attention, fitted correctly. Then, asked us to remove our masks. Did I say that they released tear gas for this little party? If your mask wasn’t fitted properly you were already a hurting unit, but, so we knew what it was like to suffer the effects of the gas, we were ordered to walk around in a circle for what seemed to be a lifetime, then don, and clear the mask again. Not my idea of a good time but the lesson was learned. Respirator fit testing became a pretty important part of our training.

    Under OSHA (1910.134(a)(2)) an employer must provide suitable respirators on the basis of the hazard to which the worker is exposed as necessary to protect the health of the worker. Further where respirators are required under OSHA(1910.134(a)(2) and (C)(1) “The employer must establish and maintain a respiratory protection program” including a written plan. There are several factors to consider when establishing or participating in these programs. The bottom line is: Does your respirator match your hazard, is it available, do you know how to use it, and does it fit? If any of these criteria is not met the results could be fatal. Fit testing procedures and training are required of employers under OSHA(1910.134(C)(1)(i) through (1)(ix)).

    If You are the employee you have responsibilities as well: *Make sure you check its fit after each donning as instructed, *use the respirator as instructed, *respect the equipment to prevent damage,* If your respirator fails remove yourself from the area, seeking clear air, * immediately report a malfunctioning unit to your program manager, *inspect for damage, clean and sanitize after each use.

    Remember this is YOUR PPE “PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT”, and “Respirator Fit Testing” is a big part of it, if you want to return home at night to your family.

  • 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!

  • On Hazardous Jobs

    We cannot deny that every job has its risks, sometimes even to our safety and health. Most commonly, the jobs in this category are those which are more physical in nature and those which involve the use of either heavy machinery or substances that can be considered dangerous.

    With this in mind, employers are required by law (and ethics) to provide their employees with protection from such risks. This protection can come in different forms. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is a requirement for those who work in areas which can cause physical injury or harm (construction sites, landfills, etc.) to protect them. For health care providers, a similar concept is found in the use of standard precaution PPE - face masks, goggles, gloves, and gowns - to protect themselves from possible cross-contamination of different microorganisms which may be contacted either from the work environment or from the patients that they are handling. Aside from the proper attire and equipment, various forms of training and preparation can work to the advantage of both employer and employee - including first aid training and basic life support certifications, among others.

    Basically, all jobs have their own risks. This is why every job also entails employers and companies to comply with safety measures specific to their field of work. Whenever these safety measures are taken for granted, or worse, neglected entirely, one can only imagine what consequences can happen. Health and safety issues may be observed, and in the worst scenarios, employee deaths can occur. This has been the case for a worker of a certain company who has been serving his employers for a good 9 years. His story can be seen here.

    Aside from the obvious disadvantages toward the employees, the employers can also be fined, sued, or shut down depending on the gravity of the circumstances. A good example of this is the recent fine proposed against a hospital that has neglected a number of safety measures.

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