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In this textile rental special, we look at the firefighting PPE care market, the role of managed care programmes and the implications of recent studies that detail of the dangers of prolonged exposure to contaminated PPE

There have been several studies detailing the dangers of prolonged exposure to contaminated PPE as the industry seeks to learn more about the carcinogens firefighters are exposed to on the job in an effort to identify what can be done to better protect them.

In our June issue of LCN, Richard Neale of LTC Worldwide will respond to a recent article in The Sunday Times that looked at the incidence of certain diseases among retired firefighters. His article will look at ways in which the launderer or garment rental operator can minimise those risks, which might be affected by inadequate cleansing, before re-use, of protective garments worn by firefighters.

According to the report in The Sunday Times (25 February), a study suggested that firefighters are three times as likely to die of cancer, as a result of exposure to toxic chemicals that become embedded in their clothing or inhaled during fires. The rate of deaths from cancer in firefighters under the age of 75 is “up to three times higher than in the general population”, said Anna Stec, professor of fire toxicity at the University of Central Lancashire.

Skin cancer is one of the highest risks, linked to toxins that contaminate fire crews’ uniforms in blazes. Mouth and throat cancers from breathing the same chemicals are also common, said Stec. Such chemicals, called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), penetrate cells, causing deadly mutations in DNA.

“Cancer incidence is far higher among firefighters than the general population,” said Stec.

“Firefighters are exposed to toxins both in the fire and afterwards because soot left on their clothing is absorbed via the skin or inhaled.”

Stec pursued two sets of research. In one, she took 650 samples from 140 firefighters’ skin, clothing, fire engines and offices. Her paper, in Scientific Reports, a Nature journal, said: “In almost all cases high or very high quantities of carcinogenic PAHs were identified.

In a second study of UK death certificates, preliminary results suggest firefighters experience high rates of cancer of the skin, mouth, throat, liver and kidney. This mirrors studies published earlier in America and Europe (see below).

Managed services

At present, European Union legislation requires employers to safeguard the health and safety of their employees at work. In the UK, this is enshrined in the Health and Safety at Work Regulations.

In June 2017, Bristol Uniforms was awarded the contract to supply firefighting PPE for a new Collaborative Procurement Framework, accessible to all Local Authority Fire and Rescue Services (FRS) across the UK. PPE supplied by Bristol Uniforms within the Framework includes full structural ensemble, a layered jacket, rescue jacket and USAR (urban search and rescue) ensemble.

The Framework contract also includes the supply of managed services for cleaning and maintenance, which is delivered by Bristol Uniforms’ two dedicated in-house service centres. Each FRS can opt for either a fully managed service or purchase only contract via the Framework.

The managed care programme is designed to allow fire and rescue services to rely on the manufacturer to supply this lifetime garment care process rather than use scarce resources to set up facilities to undertake these in-house. The programme includes cleaning, decontamination, inspection, maintenance, garment tracking, collection, delivery, stock support and online ordering via a Wardrobe Management System.

Bristol has two service centres in the UK, in Bristol and Rainham, Essex, with facilities abroad managed by appointed distributors. In the UK, a 7-day turnaround service from collection to return delivery provides garment scanning, washing, repair, inspection and tracking.

The service Bristol provides complies with PPE at Work Regulations 1992, and is accredited to BS EN ISO 9001: 2015. The service centres have fully trained staff allocated solely to the provision of care for the lifetime of the PPE.

The Collaborative Agreement Framework was created by a dedicated project team led by Kent FRS. It follows the success of the South East and Eastern Region framework established in 2010.

London Fire Brigade was closely involved with the formation of the Collaborative Framework. It chose a fully managed service contract, which include cleaning and maintenance. Bristol Uniforms collects soiled or damaged garments, transports them to its Eastern Service Centre in Rainham for thorough cleaning, inspection and repair and returns them within seven days. After an incident, kit is collected by Bristol to be cleaned and if necessary repaired. Reserve stock is held on station so that kit put in for laundry is replaced by clean kit of the right size.

Changes to current standards

Contaminated protective turnout gear can expose firefighters to life-threatening chemicals, biological agents, and particulate matter, so they must be cleaned properly to ensure the health and safety of firefighters. Proper decontamination of soiled gear is essential. In the US, the Firefighter Cancer Support Network found that firefighters are significantly more likely to develop cancer due to their exposure to carcinogens. As a result, the industry is focused on researching these harmful toxins in order to develop a standard protocol that will require frequent and thorough cleaning of PPE to prevent long-term exposure to contamination following a fire or major incident.

The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set regulations around PPE from the selection through to the retiring of elements worn by firefighters. NFPA 1851 establishes requirements for selection, care, and maintenance of PPE to reduce health and safety risks associated with improper maintenance, contamination, or damage.

In a recent meeting (March) of the technical committee responsible for revision of NFPA 1851 (Standard on Selection, Care, and Maintenance of Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting) extensive discussion revolved around proposing modifications in how turnout clothing should be cleaned and, in particular, verified for removal efficiency of harmful contaminants.

Changes have been recommended for more frequent advanced cleaning of turnout clothing (at this stage, the changes have only been proposed). While the current edition of NFPA 1851 prescribes advanced cleaning to be performed at least annually, the new edition, if accepted, will require advanced cleaning at least twice a year. This means that those departments that follow NFPA 1851 will be conducting more frequent cleaning of their gear than before.

High level of protection

During Clean 2017 in Las Vegas, LCN editor Kathy Bowry was able to see first-hand how MarKen PPE has carved its own niche in the cleaning and restoration of uniforms and kit from fire stations and other emergency first responders.

A lot has happened since that visit. The Xeros Technology Group has expanded its US coverage with acquisition of Gloves Inc, which provides PPE cleaning, inspection, and repair services from facilities in Atlanta and Miami. This follows the acquisition of the MarKen PPE Restoration business in July 2017 and further expands the company’s presence in the US firefighting PPE care market. An increasingly stringent US regulatory environment is leading to a significant rise in the outsourcing of the cleaning and inspection of PPE to specialist independent providers such as Gloves and MarKen, says Mark Nichols, chief executive of Xeros. This is driven by increased understanding of the health risks associated with soiled and contaminated PPE and increased awareness of the liability exposure associated with poor compliance. Xeros’ cleaning solution is uniquely positioned to meet this demand, which extends into the petrochemicals, mining and construction industries, he says.

MarKen, which exclusively uses the Xeros cleaning solution, is uniquely positioned to meet this demand, which extends beyond firefighting into the petrochemicals, mining and construction industries. Jeff Lockett, MarKen MD, says: “This acquisition expands Xeros participation in a very important high-performance workwear market where the Xeros technology has the proven ability to clean and extend the life of the gear, while protecting the health and safety of firefighters and other first responders.”

Xeros polymer cleaning meets the cleaning requirements of the following standards and regulations: NFPA 1851 and 1855, OSHA 29 CFR 1910 Part 132, NFPA 1971, and UL Performance Verification.

Prior to using the Xeros system, MarKen needed to do extensive pre-soaking for elements with heavy soot and smoke; this would take 48 hours. Since installing the Xeros system MarKen has reduced pre-soaking by 80%, which allows the company to process turnout gear faster and reduce fire departments’ cleaning costs. Additionally, because the elements are not going through the pre-soaking process, they are able to prolong the life of the firefighters’ elements.


Kelly Friel is a Digital Product Manager with tool and personal protective equipment supplier Zoro. In this article, she shares the essential PPE that workers in the agricultural sectors need to stay safe during farm work.

For all the joys of farming, it remains an extremely hazardous industry. It's a sobering fact that the agricultural sector represents only 1.8% of the UK workforce, but accounts for approximately 19% of reported fatalities every year — and the number of workers who lose their livelihoods to injuries and illnesses caused by farm work is higher still.

Additionally, accidents in the industry can take a big toll on businesses, causing high insurance premiums, damage to machinery, and reduced productivity and profits.

Farming is always going to involve an element of risk. The good news is that there are precautions you can take to help minimise the risk of an accident or injury, and this is where personal protective equipment comes in.

Ensuring that you, your family, and your staff have the right safety equipment for the job will mean that everyone has an extra layer of protection if something goes wrong.

In this article, I'll share my advice on how to choose the right PPE for the job and outline the essential gear that all farmworkers should use during everyday tasks. Read on to learn everything you need to know.

Basic PPE for everyday farming tasks

In the course of everyday work, farmers and their employees are exposed to a number of different hazards. So, all farm staff should have a few basic pieces of PPE on hand at all times, including:

  • Reinforced boots or wellies: These will provide an extra layer of protection against falling equipment or trampling by livestock. They should also provide adequate grip to help prevent slips, trips and falls, especially on wet surfaces and mud.
  • Cut resistant gloves: While not a failsafe form of protection against damage to the hands, these gloves do offer an extra line of defence against cutting hazardous and sharp equipment.
  • Hardhats and helmets: These will offer protection from falling objects and prevent head injuries caused by slips, trips, and falls from a height.
  • Safety harnesses: During prolonged work at height (for instance, restocking a loft, or repairing tall machinery) it's sensible to wear a tethered safety harness to prevent falls.
  • Hearing protection: Farms can be noisy places and, over time, this can cause hearing loss. Machinery, vehicles, power tools, and livestock can all cause hearing damage, so it's wise to have a variety of ear plugs and noise reducing headphones on hand to suit different environments and preferences. As a rule of thumb, if you need to raise your voice to speak to someone who is standing only a metre away, then the level of noise is likely to be hazardous and protection should be worn.

    All of this PPE is likely to be required on a daily basis, so it should be kept somewhere easy to access. Frequent usage can also lead to wear and wear, so you should monitor equipment regularly to check it’s still fit for purpose.

    PPE for dangerous agricultural chemicals

    Pesticides, fertilisers, and disinfecting chemicals are all everyday items in a farm environment, but they can still be dangerous products when used without the right PPE. To protect workers' skin, eyes and lungs when spraying, applying, and handling these chemicals, employers need to provide:

  • Safety glasses or goggles: Goggles will be needed if there is chance that drifting clouds of vapour will reach the eyes. When working with ammonia, you will need unvented, close-fitting goggles to prevent both vapours and liquid from reaching the eyes.
  • Chemically resistant gloves: These should extend up the forearms to ensure total protection. Certain types of rubber or plastic will only be suitable for certain chemicals, so check the manufacturers' instructions.
  • Chemically resistant boots: A pair of rubber, chemically resistant boots will protect the feet from spillages. These are especially important if the wearer will be walking across treated surfaces, e.g. a freshly-sprayed field.
  • Chemically resistant overalls: These should leave no areas of the body exposed.
  • Respirator mask: The correct breathing mask will stop gases, vapours and dusts from damaging the lungs and throat. A cartridge respirator will be needed for fine vapours, mists and gases although, during work with highly toxic chemicals, an air-fed mask might be more appropriate. Dust can also cause serious lung irritation, so respiratory equipment and dust masks are essential during jobs that expose the worker to high levels of particulate matter, like harvesting, threshing, and processing crops. Remember that vapours, dusts and fumes may drift considerable distances, so all staff working near potentially dangerous substances will need some form of protection.

    Provide proper training

    Lastly, it's essential that everyone on your farm understands their responsibilities and what they need to do to keep themselves and others safe.

    It’s no good supplying your staff with PPE unless they're well-versed in how to use, store, and monitor it correctly, so you should be sure to give them the right training. The Health and Safety Executive is an invaluable resource for farm safety training, so take a look at their help and advice section to learn more about what you can do.

    Workers should know how to check their PPE for faults and damage, and they should understand exactly what do if they discover a problem with their equipment. They should also know how to carry out some basic maintenance on their gear: like how to replace the cartridges in their respirators, for instance.

    There's no doubt that agriculture can be a hazardous industry but, with the right personal protective equipment and staff training, it is possible to minimize the risks and prevent needless tragedies.



  • High temps don’t mean hot clothesRead More
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    If anything has come to define the human experience throughout history, it is a willingness to take risks, to face the unknown with a confidence that boarders on arrogance and come out the victor. Such drive has not only sustained the species for millennia but given it a constant reason to innovate, to push forward and try something new, even when danger may be waiting on the other side. However, when advancement jumps ahead of human limitation, an understanding of risk can suffer.

    In most modern workplaces, the definition of risk has become diluted, continually existing in practice, as an outline that remains unclear. What is risk? For many during working hours, their jobs no longer strive to actively undermine personal safety and self-perseveration in the name of making it through the day. Despite the uncertainty having been lessened to a degree, however, whatever the occupation, there are no all-encompassing promises that danger will be permanently avoided.

    To limit risk is to limit randomness but it does not eliminate the possibility that something, somewhere, might go wrong, with some workplaces at much higher risk for failure than others.

    Accidents will occur

    The oil and gas industry exists, by its very nature, in such a paradox. They find themselves caught, in a manner of speaking, in identity-limbo, as they look to protect their workers, in all facets, however possible, yet find themselves hindered by the realities of the tasks the workers in question are being asked to do. Assuming the industry does not put the safety of its workers first would be grossly incorrect yet, at one time, such a statement could find some merit, if solely based in historical fact.

    The early history of oil excavation1 stands in remarkably sharp contrast to its present incarnation, a time when workplace safety was not out of place but simply, non-existent. Death and widespread rig disasters were surprisingly commonplace, the choice to house oil in wooden or steel containers, doing rig workers no favors, the escaped, unnoticeable and invisible fumes making excellent fire starters. Yet, in the decades following, with innovation at the forefront, the fatality rates steadily dropped. Even so, with leaps-and-bounds made in worker safety since the need was realized, there are still measures that can be taken to improve safety in the industry, including fall prevention.

    More than anyone else, Derrickhands find themselves blanketed by the protection offered by contemporary advancement, considering that they work at a height, while inherently containing risk2 presents itself as something a landscape photographer would be jealous of. Serene, reflective and with enough exposure, “not that big a deal.” According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention3 from 2003-2013, 1,189 fatalities in the oil and gas industry occurred. In 2016, in Texas alone, 545 individuals died from slips, trips and falls, a part of the 849 deaths of that nature across America and up from 49 the year prior, as recorded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.4

    Although, such statistics should always be taken with a modicum of skepticism, the simple fact remains. Accidents do occur, they occur within the oil and gas industry, and while not all accidents are created equal in relation to their fatality probability, if any potentially hazardous undertakings are not properly monitored and supervised, they can become fatal. The need for fall protection and education is critical to ensure success. There is no absolute guarantee when it comes to fall protection equipment but simply knowing and strictly adhering to established protocol is the best step one can take to prevent an unwelcome accident.

    Communication is key

    The Wyoming Rocky Mountain Industrial Supply, Industrial Supply Blog,5 looks to bring exposure to the challenges faced in the industry and the use of fall protection equipment is no exception. Used with regularity on the jobsite and even more so on rigs, a PFA with a self-retracting lifeline can limit an unplanned free fall to two feet or less. Assisted by previously implemented training programs and with all workers constantly aware of their surroundings and any possible dangers, the chances of on-the-job accidents occurring will continue to decrease, as the industry works to continuously develop and refine safety practices and emergency procedures.

    Among these procedures, should be an open line with local emergency response crews,6 should an accident requiring off-rig assistance arise. Although on-rig safety programs cover many specific eventualities, additional help, given the circumstances, may be required if assistance is needed with possible air lifts and fire control. The rig, although often isolated out of necessity, does not need to limit its relationships with those off it. Building strong contacts with outside partners, whether the local community or emergency services, will allow for much more fluid communication should the unexpected arise. Having a community connection already established can solidify a relationship which could prove to be of vital importance when least expected.

    Additionally, “extra- curricular” workplace maintenance has proven to be an asset of great effectiveness when used correctly. This would mean taking the time to underline any unique, noteworthy or troubling trends specific to the working environment, including, if required, additional safety signage. To the experienced rig worker these undertakings may seem tedious, mundane or even completely unnecessary but to a new worker or a visitor to the rig, these extra warnings may prove to be lifesaving, if other measures are ineffective or non- applicable on a certain day, considering weather, rig conditions and other outside factors.

    Continued improvement

    Working in the oil and gas industry is not an easy undertaking. The industry is one which must constantly adjust to a host of ever-changing, environmental, political and socio-economic factors, unique in its now streamlined adaptability. The strides taken in this respect over the past 150 years have been remarkable. Saying that, a clear focus for continued improvement must be established to maximize growth across the board and to ensure, if it is desired, that progress, as currently presented, continues to expand, as to ensure the long-term economic and social survival of the industry and its workers.

    The oil and gas industry has shown an aptitude for resiliency in recent years, unwilling to bend to the pressure placed upon it by both outside forces and the risks that exist inside it. To continue to find success, the industry must accept advanced safety measures as a cost of doing business in the present environment. Achieving these ends will allow for great strides to be made in the coming years.


    Inhalation of toxic gases can kill you. It’s important that you perpetually monitor your breathing air to ensure that you and your employees are breathing air that is safe and free of such gases all the time.

    Gases such as carbon monoxide can’t be seen or smelled but are dangerous to your health and your life. Consistent low levels of exposure to CO can cause symptoms similar to that of the flu. The effects are cumulative and can increase the risk of heart disease. High levels of exposure can cause unconsciousness or death. By continuously monitoring your air, you are be immediately alerted that the CO levels are dangerous, allowing you to correct the issue right away.

    Another toxic gas is hydrogen sulfide (H2S). This is only present in some industries and environments, for example the oil and gas industry. The smell of H2S resembles that of rotten eggs – which provides one way of easily identifying that the gas exists in your workplace. If H2S is present in your workplace it is imperative that you monitor the levels in breathing air. Inhalation of this gas can cause irritation to the eyes and respiratory system, headaches and nausea. High exposure is life-threatening, as it can attack all your organs, but most commonly the nervous system.

    Then there is oxygen. It is important that there is enough oxygen (19.5% - 23.5%) in your breathing air. The lack of oxygen can very quickly lead to suffocation. This seems obvious — so much that it is often overlooked.

    Choosing the right device

    Thanks to technology, gas detection and airline monitoring is easier than it has ever been. Premium devices can monitor multiple gases simultaneously, so you can ensure you are protected from the most common toxic gases that can be found in the workplace. Here are some more features that can be found in the best gas monitors and that you should look for:

  • The ability to monitor multiple gases simultaneously so that you only need to check one device.
  • A unit that you can set up and forget about, knowing that it will alert you if there are any issues, For example: unsafe gas levels, calibration required, loss of power.
  • One that provides real-time data, so you can assess and fix any issues immediately as they arise.
  • Integrated WIFI and network capabilities. This allows managers to view any data relating to the device and the air quality from outside of the immediate work environment.
  • Capability to integrate external alarms especially in high-noise environments. Other custom systems can be set up to force your employees to vacate the work area if the air quality is jeopardized.

    Look for a device that can simultaneously monitor multiple gases, provides real time data, has integrated WIFI capability and will alert you if there are any unsafe gases in the air. The cost of installing and maintaining air monitoring equipment is far outweighed by the potential cost of ruining a person’s life.



  • Creating safer spacesRead More
    ANSI/ISEA 121-2018: American National Standard for Dropped Object Prevention Solutions aims to reduce workplace accidents, injuries, and deaths related to falling objects.

    The American National Standards Institute approved Monday the publication of a new standard to address the need for dropped object prevention and tool tethering. ANSI/ISEA 121-2018: American National Standard for Dropped Object Prevention Solutions aims to reduce workplace accidents, injuries, and deaths related to falling objects.

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 52,000 “struck by falling object” OSHA recordable incidents occur each year in the U.S., with 5 percent of all workplace fatalities in 2015 due to strikes by a falling object. Objects dropped from height can strike with a great deal of force, and the only way to reduce the chance of injury or harm from dropped objects is to prevent these accidental drops.

    ANSI/ISEA 121-2018 is groundbreaking in that it requires dropped object prevention (DOP) solutions to go through dynamic drop testing to be considered fit for use. Dynamic drop testing involves dropping an object of known weight multiple times. If the DOP device being tested prevents a drop, it passes, and if the device breaks and the object drops, it fails.


    I have heard so many stories from workers who have credited wearing a hard hat with saving their lives.

    A few months ago I was watching the nightly news and a reporter was covering a tragic story on a construction site where a supervisor had been struck in the head by a hammer that had fallen off a beam almost 30 feet above him. The supervisor on the work site was not wearing head protection and died from his injuries.

    The first step in helping workers stay safe on a job site is wearing personal protective equipment (PPE). Job sites across the United States require workers to wear head protection when there is the possibility of worker injury from falling or flying objects.

    Why, then, do workers sometimes fail to wear head protection on the job site? Comfort is the number one reason. Workers want to be comfortable, especially when they are working in high heat temperatures and wearing a hard hat can be extremely uncomfortable and hot. However, comfort is not a valid reason to forego head protection. What's more important than protecting your head? OSHA and ANSI regulations require workers to wear head protection when the work site has the potential for falling objects.

    Our knowledge about head injuries has grown considerably over the years, particularly with the attention the NFL has received regarding concussions. Head trauma can have lasting effects on a professional athlete. The same applies to workers on job sites. There's no excuse why head protection is not worn on every work site across America.

    The best way to protect your head while on the job is by wearing a hard hat. I have heard so many stories from workers who have credited wearing a hard hat with saving their lives. One recent story was shared with me from a highway construction worker who was wearing a hard hat when he was struck by a truck's side view mirror. The driver of the truck swerved to miss hitting the worker, but the truck's side view mirror extension struck the worker in the head. Thank goodness this worker was wearing a hard hat that saved his life.

    Head Protection Innovations

    PPE manufacturers are becoming more innovative in their hard hat designs because workers are demanding comfort, style, and safety in their hat models. Hard hats are designed to meet or exceed the requirements of ANSI/ISEA Z89.1 standard. New model hard hats have recently been introduced by manufacturers who are designing for the way workers perform their jobs. For instance, new head protection models that offer a see-through visor on the bill of a hard hat is one way of allowing workers to see the hazards that may be lurking above them. Changes in hard hat suspensions and brow pads are all new choices workers have when choosing the right head protection for their type of work.

    Utility, construction, and oil workers need to see the dangers above them to stay safe on the job. Highway workers need to be seen on the job. My story about the highway worker who was struck in the head by a truck's side view mirror happened because the worker was not visible to the driver. The truck driver didn't see the highway worker until he was right on top of him, forcing the driver to swerve to avoid hitting the worker head on.

    As highway drivers, we have become so accustomed to road construction projects that we often fail to notice the signs or even check to see where the workers are. One of the easiest ways to keep workers safe is to make them visible. Low visibility is another danger on a job site with workers sometimes standing less than 10 feet away from high-speed traffic while other workers are operating heavy equipment.

    The ANSI/ISEA 107-2015 Standard for High-Visibility Safety Apparel and Accessories, along with the ANSI/ISEA 107-2010 Standard for High Visibility Safety Apparel (HVSA) and the ANSI/ISEA 207-2011 American National Standard for High-Visibility Public Safety Vests, form a single comprehensive standard to help keep workers safe on the job. By combining the standards, ANSI/ISEA added to its current Performance Class 1, 2, and 3 requirements by including three new garment types for reflective options to see workers more clearly:

  • Type O (off-road) or Performance Class 1: non-roadway use where workers are not exposed to high traffic or temporary control zones.
  • Type R (roadway) or Performance Class 2 or 3: workers are exposed to traffic from public access highway rights-of-way or roadway temporary control zones.
  • Type P (public safety) or Performance Class 2 or 3: emergency and incident responders and law enforcement personnel who are exposed to struck-by hazards in roadway or off-road work environments.

    Below are examples of occupational activities for each of the classifications:

  • Type O/Performance 1: parking attendants, shopping cart retrievers, warehouse workers with equipment traffic, sidewalk maintenance workers, or delivery vehicle drivers.
  • Type R/Performance 2 or 3: railway workers, forestry workers, school crossing guards, airport crews, law enforcement personnel directing traffic, and accident site investigators.
  • Type P/Performance 2 or 3: roadway construction personnel, utility workers, survey crews, emergency response personnel, and flagging crews.

    According to this standard, apparel worn by workers must provide 360-degree visibility during the day and night. A safety vest that provides reflectivity only on the back and torso does not meet the standard. Fluorescent garments that make a worker highly visible during the day but nearly invisible at dusk do not meet the standard.

    High-Visibility Options

    Head protection is not specifically covered by the standard, although hard hat manufacturers offer several high-visibility options for workers to choose. Workers can increase the visibility of their hard hat by choosing a high-visibility shell color. Yellow is a common high-visibility color, as is green or orange.

    Hard hats that meet the non-mandatory requirements for high visibility (ANSI/ISEA Z89.1-2014) are marked "HV" by the manufacturer. Be aware that if your hard hat is a high-visibility color, prolonged daylight exposure can fade the cap's color and thereby compromise a worker’s visibility and safety. Ultraviolet rays degrade colorants, so hard hats should not be stored in direct sunlight when not in use.

    Striping on a hard hat is another way to increase a worker's visibility. By using striping that is reflective and/or fluorescent in color, hard hats can provide enhanced worker visibility. The same highly reflective striping that is applied to clothing to meet the ANSI/ISEA 107-2015 standard also can be applied to hard hats. To achieve improved retroreflectance, use striping with a high CPL number. To achieve 360-degree reflectivity, add striping all the way around the brim of your hard hat. Many hard hat manufacturers will custom decorate caps by applying striping as well as custom logos.

    PPE must be worn to help avoid the hazards that we often don't see. Those unforeseen accidents that can happen in a blink of an eye can change our lives forever. Workers can avoid above and low-visibility hazards by wearing head protection. The hard hat, invented in 1919 to protect coal miners from fallen debris, is still the most important PPE available to protect workers' heads while on the job. The next time you walk onto a job site, be sure you are wearing your hard hat. It's too risky not to.



  • Falls impact more than the individual, so do what is prudent to reduce falls in your world and continue to educate yourself.

    Risking a Disability

    Falls are also the leading cause of disability in the United States, accounting for 30.7 percent of disability cases. This is comprised of: falls on the same level at 14.7 percent, falls to a lower level at 9.2 percent, and slip or trips at 3.8 percent (2016, Liberty Mutual). American disability costs due to falls total $50 billion per year, which is approximately $1 billion spent each week. Not only is this a lot of money, but it also reflects a lot of pain and suffering.

    Most do not realize that slips and falls from the same surface are great risks. A change of surface (e.g., carpet to smooth floor) is hard for the body to adjust to with grace and balance. In more technical terms, the change of the coefficient of friction changes the grip of your shoes on the surface. This also occurs when liquids or other items are spilled.

    Another notorious fall risk is the "trip lip." This lip is often approximately three-fourths of an inch, which makes it hard to see, yet your feet find it all too easy to detect. Trip lips are especially risky to young or older walkers because both often shuffle instead of lifting their feet.

    On the Job

    Construction workers are the most likely to die on the job from a fall. Falls are the second cause of death for all workers after transportation incidents. The Bureau of Labor Statistics data recorded 800 people died on the job in 2015 from falls.

    Dispelling the myth that it takes great heights to cause great injury, 36 percent of on-the-job fatal falls are from less than 15 feet. It is not surprising that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and American National Standards Institute worked to improve the fall standards. It is also understandable that falls are OSHA's No. 1 cited standard.

    We have come a long way with the topic of falls, yet we have a great distance to go. Many who are exposed daily are just beginning to understand the risks. It was not that long ago that fall protection from a structure was a belt around the waist. I wore one of these in the early '80s when I worked at a very large and very safety-conscious chemical company. A fall while wearing that device would have likely broken my back or crushed my internal organs due to the forces and my "safety device." We have advanced to the point where fall protection now requires a body harness to distribute the forces of the fall.

    New Fall Technology

    However, there are technical and challenging topics to address when using these newer devices and systems. These include calculating fall distances, potential swing radius, hardware, and tie-off points to ensure the integrity of the system will support your falling load. Prompt rescue is necessary due to suspension trauma risk. All these are relatively new concepts to address an age-old concern: gravity.

    Falls and the forces that result from them are not new, but the science of studying them and resolving the risks is fairly new and exciting. Education on this and other topics is essential for us to continue as a society.

    Falls impact more than the individual, so do what is prudent to reduce falls in your world and continue to educate yourself so you don't fall for anything!


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