A head injury can impair individuals for life or it can be fatal. Having a head protection equipment is the easiest way to protect the head against such incidents in working environment. Wearing a safety helmet is the head protection commonly used by workers in hazardous environment such as Construction site, Manufacturing plant, Mining site, etc.
The hard hat protects a person from impact, penetration, electrical shock and burn hazards. Moreover, here are several scenarios that can potentially cause head injuries:
- Falling objects from above
- Bumping into fixed objects such as exposed nail/screw, pipes, beams, etc.
- Live electrical cable exposed that could cause electrical shock whoever is unaware of the cable above their heads.
Examples of occupations that requires head protection:
- Construction workers
- Timber and log cutters
In general, protective helmets or hard hats should do the following:
- Resist penetration by objects.
- Absorb the shock of a blow.
- Be water-resistant and slow burning.
- Have clear instructions explaining proper adjustment and replacement of the suspension and headband.
Hard hats are divided into three industrial classes:
- Class A hard hats provide impact and penetration resistance along with limited voltage protection (up to 2,200 volts).
- Class B hard hats provide the highest level of protection against electrical hazards, with high-voltage shock and burn protection (up to 20,000 volts). They also provide protection from impact and penetration hazards by flying/falling objects.
- Class C hard hats provide lightweight comfort and impact protection but offer no protection from electrical hazards.
FOOT & LEG PROTECTION
Hazards where foot protection is required:
- Falling or rolling objects that can crush or penetrate materials
- Exposure to hot substances, corrosive, poisonous materials
- Electrical shocks
- Static electricity workplace
Foot protection choices include the following:
- Safety shoes have impact-resistant toes and heat-resistant soles that protect the feet against hot work surfaces common in roofing, paving and hot metal industries. The metal insoles of some safety shoes protect against puncture wounds. Safety shoes may also be designed to be electrically conductive to prevent the build-up of static electricity in areas with the potential for explosive atmospheres or nonconductive to protect employees from workplace electrical hazards.
- Electrically conductive shoes provide protection against the build-up of static electricity. Employees working in explosive and hazardous locations such as explosives manufacturing facilities must wear conductive shoes to reduce the risk of static electricity build-up on the body that could produce a spark and cause an explosion or fire.
- Electrical hazard, safety-toe shoes are nonconductive and will prevent the wearers’ feet from completing an electrical circuit to the ground.
As with all protective equipment, safety footwear should be inspected prior to each use. Shoes and leggings should be checked for wear and tear at reasonable intervals. This includes looking for cracks or holes, separation of materials, broken buckles or laces. The soles of shoes should be checked for pieces of metal or other embedded items that could present electrical or tripping hazards. Employees should follow the manufacturers’ recommendations for cleaning and maintenance of protective footwear.
HAND PROTECTION (GLOVES)
Employee workplace where potential injury to the hands are required to wear proper protection. Potential hazards include skin absorption of harmful substances, chemical or thermal burns, electrical dangers, bruises, abrasions, cuts, punctures, fractures and amputations. Protective equipment includes gloves, finger guards and arm coverings or elbow-length gloves.
There are many types of gloves that provide protection to many kinds of hazards. Different hazards need the appropriate gloves to have proper protection. There is no glove that protects against every type of hazards.
The following are examples of some factors that may influence the selection of protective gloves for a workplace.
- Type of chemicals handled
- Nature of contact (total immersion, splash, etc.)
- Duration of contact
- Area requiring protection (hand only, forearm, arm)
- Grip requirements (dry, wet, oily)
- Thermal protection
- Size and comfort
- Abrasion/resistance requirements
Gloves made from a wide variety of materials are designed for many types of workplace hazards. In general, gloves fall into four groups:
- Gloves made of leather, canvas or metal mesh
- Fabric and coated fabric gloves
- Chemical- and liquid-resistant gloves
- Insulating rubber gloves
Leather, Canvas or Metal Mesh Gloves
Sturdy gloves made from metal mesh, leather or canvas provide protection against cuts and burns. Leather or canvass gloves also protect against sustained heat.
- Leather gloves protect against sparks, moderate heat, blows, chips and rough objects.
- Aluminized gloves provide reflective and insulating protection against heat and require an insert made of synthetic materials to protect against heat and cold.
- Aramid fiber gloves protect against heat and cold, are cut- and abrasive-resistant and wear well.
- Synthetic gloves of various materials offer protection against heat and cold, are cut- and abrasive-resistant and may withstand some diluted acids. These materials do not stand up against alkalis and solvents.
Fabric and Coated Fabric Gloves
Fabric and coated fabric gloves are made of cotton or other fabric to provide varying degrees of protection.
- Fabric gloves protect against dirt, slivers, chafing and abrasions. They do not provide sufficient protection for use with rough, sharp or heavy materials. Adding a plastic coating will strengthen some fabric gloves.
- Coated fabric gloves are normally made from cotton flannel with napping on one side. Through coating, the fabric gloves are transformed into general-purpose hand protection offering slip-resistant qualities. These gloves are used for tasks ranging from handling bricks and wire to chemical laboratory containers.
Chemical- and Liquid-Resistant Gloves
Chemical-resistant gloves are made with different kinds of rubber: natural, butyl, neoprene, nitrile and fluorocarbon, or various kinds of plastic: polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyvinyl alcohol and polyethylene. These materials can be blended or laminated for better performance. As a general rule, the thicker the glove material, the greater the chemical resistance but thick gloves may impair grip and dexterity, having a negative impact on safety.
Some examples of chemical-resistant gloves include:
- Butyl gloves are made of a synthetic rubber and protect against a wide variety of chemicals, such as peroxide, rocket fuels, highly corrosive acids (nitric acid, sulfuric acid, hydrofluoric acid and red-fuming nitric acid), strong bases, alcohols, aldehydes, ketones, esters and nitrocompounds. Butyl gloves also resist oxidation, ozone corrosion and abrasion, and remain flexible at low temperatures. Butyl rubber does not perform well with aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons and halogenated solvents.
- Natural (latex) rubber gloves are comfortable to wear, which makes them a popular general-purpose glove. They feature outstanding tensile strength, elasticity and temperature resistance. In addition to resisting abrasions caused by grinding and polishing, these gloves protect employees’ hands from most water solutions of acids, alkalis, salts and ketones
- Neoprene gloves are made of synthetic rubber and offer good pliability, finger dexterity, high density and tear resistance. They protect against hydraulic fluids, gasoline, alcohols, organic acids and alkalis. They generally have chemical and wear resistance properties superior to those made of natural rubber.
- Nitrile gloves are made of a copolymer and provide protection from chlorinated solvents such as trichloroethylene and perchloroethylene. Although intended for jobs requiring dexterity and sensitivity, nitrile gloves stand up to heavy use even after prolonged exposure to substances that cause other gloves to deteriorate.
Body protection from injuries (fatal or non-fatal) are important when it comes to personal safety and it is usually in form of apparels. There are varieties of apparels that protect workers from hazardous/contaminated substances in work environments.
Examples of workplace hazards that are harmful:
- High temperatures from objects/fluids.
- Projectile Objects such as materials, tools, etc.
- Hazardous chemicals
Types of Apparel protection:
- Disposable apparel that protects against dust and splash.
- Cotton/wool design resistant against dust, abrasions, and rough surfaces in case of collision or fall.
- Tougher woven cotton that protects from cuts and bruises that are thicker than normal cotton/wool.
- Leather or Rubber fabrics that protects against heat, fire, chemicals, and physical hazards.
Typical working environments include, Manufacturing plants from Food & Beverages, to Heavy industries like Metal Casting factory to Construction sector, where plenty of hazardous environment exposes to falling objects, sharp objects, working on heights, extreme temperatures, heavy machinery, etc.
Employees exposed to noise level that requires hearing protection, there are a number of factor that will affect the selection of the type of protection needed. The factors are:
- The loudness of the noise as measured in decibels (dB).
- The duration of each employee’s exposure to the noise.
- Whether employees move between work areas with different noise levels.
- Whether noise is generated from one or multiple sources.
Here’s a few types of hearing protection that are available in the market today:
- Disposable earplugs usually made from silicon rubber, wool, or cotton. It has a self-forming ability when inserted in ears. It will block most of the excessive noise.
- Pre-molded earplugs are molded to fit into the ear canal of the individual. It can be disposable or reusable. Reusable plugs should be cleaned after each use.
- Earmuffs require a perfect seal around the ear. Glasses, facial hair, long hair or facial movements such as chewing may reduce the protective value of earmuffs.
EYE AND FACE PROTECTION
Many occupational eye injuries occur because employees are not wearing any eye protection while others result from wearing improper or poorly fitting eye protection. Employers must be sure that their employees wear appropriate eye and face protection and that the selected form of protection is appropriate to the work being performed and properly fits each employee exposed to the hazard.
OSHA suggests that eye protection be routinely considered for use by carpenters, electricians, machinists, mechanics, millwrights, plumbers and pipefitters, sheetmetal employees and tinsmiths, assemblers, sanders, grinding machine operators, sawyers, welders, laborers, chemical pro-cess operators and handlers, and timber cutting and logging workers. Employers of employees in other job categories should decide whether there is a need for eye and face PPE through a hazard assessment.
Examples of potential eye or face injuries include:
- Dust, dirt, metal or wood chips entering the eye from activities such as chipping, grinding, sawing, hammering, the use of power tools or even strong wind forces.
- Chemical splashes from corrosive substances, hot liquids, solvents or other hazardous solutions.
- Objects swinging into the eye or face, such as tree limbs, chains, tools or ropes.
- Radiant energy from welding, harmful rays from the use of lasers or other radiant light (as well as heat, glare, sparks, splash and flying particles).
Types of Eye Protection
Selecting the most suitable eye and face protection for employees should take into consideration the following elements:
- Ability to protect against specific workplace hazards.
- Should fit properly and be reasonably comfortable to wear.
- Should provide unrestricted vision and movement.
- Should be durable and cleanable.
- Should allow unrestricted functioning of any other required PPE.
Some of the most common types of eye and face protection include the following:
- Safety spectacles. These protective eyeglasses have safety frames constructed of metal or plastic and impact-resistant lenses. Side shields are available on some models.
- Goggles. These are tight-fitting eye protection that completely cover the eyes, eye sockets and the facial area immediately surrounding the eyes and provide protection from impact, dust and splashes. Some goggles will fit over corrective lenses.
- Welding shields. Constructed of vulcanized fiber or fiberglass and fitted with a filtered lens, welding shields protect eyes from burns caused by infrared or intense radiant light; they also protect both the eyes and face from flying sparks, metal spatter and slag chips produced during welding, brazing, soldering and cutting operations. OSHA requires filter lenses to have a shade number appropriate to protect against the specific hazards of the work being performed in order to protect against harmful light radiation.
- Laser safety goggles. These specialty goggles protect against intense concentrations of light produced by lasers. The type of laser safety goggles an employer chooses will depend upon the equipment and operating conditions in the workplace.
- Face shields. These transparent sheets of plastic extend from the eyebrows to below the chin and across the entire width of the employee’s head. Some are polarized for glare protection. Face shields protect against nuisance dusts and potential splashes or sprays of hazardous liquids but will not provide adequate protection against impact hazards. Face shields usedin combination with goggles or safety spectacles will provide additional protection against impact hazards.
Each type of protective eyewear is designed to protect against specific hazards. Employers can identify the specific workplace hazards that threaten employees’ eyes and faces by completing a hazard assessment as outlined in the earlier section.
Respirators protect workers against insufficient oxygen environments, harmful dusts, fogs, smokes, mists, gases, vapours, and sprays. These hazards may cause cancer, lung impairment, diseases, or death. Compliance with the OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard could avert hundreds of deaths and thousands of illnesses annually.
Respirators protect the user in two basic ways. The first is by the removal of contaminants from the air. Respirators of this type include particulate respirators, which filter out airborne particles, and air-purifying respirators with cartridges/canisters which filter out chemicals and gases. Other respirators protect by supplying clean respirable air from another source. Respirators that fall into this category include airline respirators, which use compressed air from a remote source, and self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), which include their own air supply.