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Set Descending Direction
by Carla Sertin 26 Jul 2019Read More
Cuts and lacerations are common workplace injuries. In fact, about 30% of all workplace injuries involve cuts or lacerations, and approximately 70% of those are to the hands or fingers, according to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.

These injuries can range from minor abrasions that require first aid to serious or life-threatening puncture wounds, deep lacerations or amputation injuries.

How workers get hurt

A cut or laceration can occur a number of ways on the job. A worker may use the wrong tool for the job or a tool that’s in poor condition. Or, he or she might be working on a machine that has missing or improperly adjusted guards. Poor lighting, clutter and debris also can play a part, as can lack of training, working too fast, failure to wear proper personal protective equipment and not following safety procedures.

Keep them safe

Employers need to establish work procedures to identify and control worker exposure to cut and laceration hazards, Ohio BWC states. Tips from the bureau include:

  • Use the right tool for the job. Inspect it thoroughly before starting work.
  • Make sure the tool is secure at all times while cutting, and never hold the item being cut in your hand. Keep the non-cutting hand clear of the path of the cut.
  • Ensure blades are sharp – dull blades require more force to use, thus increasing the risk of incidents.
  • Wear necessary PPE, including eyewear, gloves and long-sleeved shirts.
  • Never use a cutting blade as a screwdriver, pry bar or chisel.
  • Don’t leave exposed blades unattended, and keep tools with blades in a closed position when not in use.
  • Use a separate drawer for sharp tools.



  • “Personal protective equipment” covers a wide range of ever-advancing products. Safety+Health, with help from the International Safety Equipment Association, recently reached out to PPE manufacturers with three questions: What trends are happening now, what challenges are your customers reaching out to you with, and what technological innovations are here or on the horizon?

    Here are their responses:

    1. What recent PPE trends have you observed?

    “We are seeing a consolidation of suppliers as well as an emergence of private-label safety gear from large distributors who require more general purpose PPE. Innovations on specialized PPE are coming from the major manufacturers of safety equipment. One example is hand protection. The new ANSI/ISEA 138 impact standard for safety gloves went into effect recently, requiring a more stringent test method, classification and labeling for gloves that promise impact protection. Impact glove manufacturers are now held accountable for their claims, where in the past claims were made with very little to back them up.”

    –Sofiane Laoussadi, vice president and general manager, global PPE, Honeywell Industrial Safety, Charlotte, NC

    2. What are customers reaching out to you about? What challenges are they relaying?

    “Style and comfort continue to be the two main features customers request in their PPE. The challenges are that while some styles look better than others, PPE must – first and foremost – keep the worker safe. Safety is always No. 1 when designing PPE, and sometimes that means forgoing style.”

    – Stacey Simmons, product manager for industrial head and face protection, Bullard, Cynthiana, KY

    3. What innovations and technologies are here or on the horizon?

    “Leaders in the health and safety arena are beginning to turn to wearable technology. ‘Smart’ technology is being integrated into PPE and industrial apparel so that companies can help workers prevent injuries and improve worker productivity. Sensors in PPE are currently being developed to monitor things like fatigue, blood-alcohol levels, sweat levels and other vital signs.”

    –Mark Stanley


    Contamination is defined as the pollution and contagion of materials, objects, people, area or structure by undesirable microorganisms, harmful industrial chemicals and / or warfare agents in combat situations, chemical-biological terrorist attacks and industrial chemical exposures.

    Decontamination is the process of chemical cleansing, sterilization, cleaning and / or removing with antisepsis in the first intervention, in case of possible vital risks involved in these kind of events which are in the scope of civil defense and occupational safety.

    Within the scope of the DISASTER RESPONSE PLAN, duties and responsibilities of related institutions and organizations and the equipment to be used are defined. In such cases, the distance to the hazardous area, the number of people exposed, transportation and intervention opportunities are the basis for choosing decontamination systems type.

    Apart from industrial pollution, in cases of chemical attacks during war and terror, zones are classified as hot, warm and cold according to the distance to the place of attack.

    Decontamination systems to be used by military and civil defense, who have the authority and responsibility for the hot zone, are generally portable and have limited capacity. The first intervention here is; damage detection, rescue, classification, initial medical intervention, decontamination, evacuation and referral to medical units (warm and cold regions).

    Decontamination systems used in hot areas are usually;

    Can be carried on back, pressurized and up to 50 lt devices.
    Portable, inflatable tent, clean and wastewater storage systems.
    Trailer, with fixed steel installations on trolley, clean and waste water storage systems.

    Decontamination systems used in warm and cold regions are generally;

    Portable inflatable tent, clean and waste water storage systems.
    Clean and waste water storage systems with portable steel installation.
    Fixed steel installation decontamination units installed at CBRN reference hospitals.

    As IST Safety Company, with the knowledge we have gained from our past, with our manufacturing capasity and with our referances that we have supplied decontamination systems without problems, we manufacture decontamination systems fixed on trolley and/ or container, with clean water and waste water storage, portable metal clean and waste water storage systems, fixed steel installation decontamination systems suitable for CBRN reference hospitals.

    Portable steel and stationary systems are generally designed based on a tunnel type washing system that can be configured in a modular structure.

    The system can be shaped foreseeing the possible needs according to the capacity and abilities listed below.

  • Mains waterline connected or systems with water tank according to water supply possibilities.
  • Systems with hydrophore and water heating according to water pressure,
  • Appropriate measures for outpatient and / or inpatient,
  • Mixing pump with dosing control for chemical washing,
  • The strip curtain system, which provides patient privacy and isolation during entrance and exit,
  • Triggered brush for inpatient and delicate washing,
  • The appropriate number of sprayers for water capacity and directional nozzles,
  • The perforated grating and collecting tray to collect the waste water,
  • Waste water pump and pillow type tank (500 - 2500 Lt volumes),
  • Rinse shower head,
  • Stretcher entrance and exit ramp in systems for inpatient,
  • Lighting fixture,
  • Stainless Steel, sheet steel, GRP, PU fabric options for outer coating,
  • Adjustable hydraulic legs in container systems,
  • Connecting, fixing, warning lamps, brake safety in trailer systems,
  • Equipment storage sections in trailer and container systems,
  • Air flow fan and filtration systems in trailer and container systems.

    Advantages of IST Decontamination Systems;

  • Stainless steel 304 - 316 is durable and hygienic.
  • The snap-on connection type allows easy and quick installation and disassembly.
  • Systems are modular and can be designed according to intended purpose.
  • Provides economical use of water and power.
  • Outpatient and inpatient decontamination can be done with a single system.
  • Closed systems that protect the privacy of the injured patients.
  • According to seasonal conditions ''optional'' thermomixer valve allows decontamination with hot, warm, cold water.
  • If required, provides chemical washing with dosing controlled mixing pump. Cleaning chemicals can be used at the discretion of the employee without any brand or content enforcement.
  • Provides convenient storage and transportation in line with environment and water conservation policies with waste water storage system with grating, pump and PU cushion type waste water tank that collects hazardous chemicals that may mix into tap water during decontamination.
  • Triggered brush provides precise and deep cleaning.
  • Adjustable nozzle system eliminates the directional dislocation problem that may be caused by fixed nozzles, and setting problems that may occur due to the connections. Nozzles can be totally disassembled and cleaned in case of calcification which may be caused by hot water usage.
  • Provides the opportunity to use the shower, the nozzle and the brush in the system at the same time or separately.


  • Fixed decontamination systems are installed in areas determined by first aid facilities which has waterline infrastructure, to decontaminate people who are exposed to chemical contaminants and / or war gases.
    Optional clean water tank works as an independent system combined with heater, hydrophore, waste water tank and generator.
  • The decontamination system works by connecting to a water line which provides a flow rate of at least 50 Lt / min and contains clean water. An industrial water heater burner with water softener can be added to the system on customer's request.
  • In places where there is no fixed water line or water pressure is not sufficient, a polyethylene tank with a water capacity of at least 1500 Lt and a backup emergency storage tank can be added to the system on request.
  • The decontamination system is manufactured from 304 quality stainless steel as standard.
  • The decontamination system has an easy-open valve system and distributes the water in the system at the same pressure and at the same time to each and every spray nozzle.
  • Provides water spraying to all parts of the body with 24 spray nozzles in the system. Quick, easy and effective washing is provided by rotary spraying of water.
  • Also inlcudes 2 triggered hand shower.
  • Hazardous waste water that is formed during decontamination, is collected in 304 stainless steel collection tray placed under the shower system and stored in the portable pillow bag with the help of waste water pump which includes level switch.
  • There is a built-in mixer pump that mixes the chemicals used in the decontamination shower system to clean the chemical or war gases and mixes them with water.
  • Mixer pump is integrated into the system in a way that enables deactivating when necessary, to rinse with clean water only.
  • The decontamination system is designed so that the privacy rights of the victims / patients are not compromised and two sides are designed as closed panels and there is shower curtain at the entrance. It allows rapid purification in multiple interventions.
  • The decontamination system is equipped with all necessary warning plates and labels.
  • Standard model dimensions are 150 x 300 x 240 cm.


  • It is a system that protects all body parts of people who are exposed to chemical and biological agents or, when necessary entinguishes flaming clothes in the event of fire, by spraying the washing liquid.
  • The system automatically runs when stepped on the platform.
  • With 14 spray nozzles, water is sprayed to every part of the body.
  • Rapid and easy washing is provided by spraying the water with rotation.
  • Practical cabin can be build by closing 3 sides.


  • Ex-proof or Non Ex-proof Audible and Visual Alarm
  • Ex-proof or Non Ex-proof Lighting
  • GRP platform
  • 316 Stainless steel material
  • Water pressure regulator
  • Flanged water inlet
  • Side and rear panels or tent
  • Water tank

    Features of Decontamination Unit with 300 LT Water Tank and Tent:

  • The pump, which works in conjunction with the valve handle, is automatically switched on by the flow when the valve is opened. When the pump circuit is on, it gives a warning signal with the red light on the panel, the water flow starts and when the valve is closed the water flow stops. Water tank is set as 300 lt (Can be produced in different volumes on customer request).
  • The water tank material is polyethylene plastic.
  • Different sterile liquids can be added in water tank for washing the body
  • Automatic control from the valve can be applied to all shower models
    Can be produced from stainless steel or galvanized painted steel


  • A line system can be designed to use as a modular structure with units of 1-2-3. Unit dimensions are 900 x 900 x 2250 mm.
  • The 1st unit is platform controlled, 2nd and / or 3rd unit is hand operated under the supervision of control personnel.
  • Storage and transport package for the product (box, chest, PU bag) is optional according to storage possibilities.

  • Triggered hand brush for chemical washing
  • Mixer pump for chemical washing
  • Transparent strip curtain at unit entrance and exit
  • GRP platform
  • 316 Stainless steel material
  • Water pressure regulator, flanged water inlet
  • Stainless steel, galvanized steel or GRP side and back panels or PU canvas
  • Water tank and hydrophore for environments where the water pressure is not enough or there is no water line
  • Sewage pump and storage
  • Thermomixing valve to provide tepid water if hot and cold water inlets are available.



  • Washington — NIOSH has published a technical report intended to help safety and health professionals, employers, trade associations, labor organizations, and state-level programs control chemical exposures in the workplace.

    The NIOSH Occupational Exposure Banding Process for Chemical Risk Management, released in July, details a strategy for managing the many chemical substances that don’t have an authoritative occupational exposure limit. About 99% of the more than 85,000 commercially available chemicals in the United States fall under that category. NIOSH defines an “authoritative limit” as one that comes from consensus, government or peer-reviewed sources.

    The strategy relies on banding, or categorizing chemical substances based on their toxicity and potential adverse health outcomes resulting from exposure. Occupational exposure banding is also known as hazard banding or health hazard banding.

    “The occupational exposure banding process is not meant to replace quantitative occupational exposure limits (OELs); rather, it is a voluntary approach which provides a starting point to inform risk management decisions for controlling chemical substances that do not have OELs,” NIOSH states in a July 10 press release.

    The agency also has developed a supplemental e-tool to use as an automated method to band chemical substances.

    “NIOSH has devoted significant efforts to develop, assess and validate the occupational exposure banding strategy with the overall goal of reducing safety and health risks for workers,” NIOSH Director John Howard said in the release. “In the absence of formalized OELs, the exposure banding approach serves to identify workplace hazards and helps employers implement control strategies that keep workers safe on the job.”


    How does creating a culture around training and education empower and encourage employees to assess their work areas for hazards, as well as play an active role in eliminating those hazards?

    Companies often treat the idea of developing a plan around a “safe culture” as something that would be “nice to have one day,” but it’s put on the back burner as other initiatives and business goals take priority. It’s not until a major incident – or even worse, a fatality – occurs that these companies finally get serious about safety. By then it’s too late, resulting in a demoralized workforce, a tarnished reputation and a feeling of regret that they weren’t more proactive.

    With global 24/7 news coverage and the advances of social media, word of damaging compliance issues can spread like wildfire, and companies that don’t adopt a compliance culture put themselves and their most valuable asset – their employees – at risk. Workplace injuries and fatalities can profoundly affect the lives of workers and their families.

    The following are the essential steps that compliance leaders should take to foster a safe, ethical and compliant company culture.

    Identify and analyze risks

    . Risks to the employees and organization should be identified and prioritized, knowing that high-risk issues will require the greatest commitment to training to achieve behavioral change. In an ideal world, companies want to prioritize every risk. However, it’s crucial to be strategic and efficient with everyone’s time, so low-risk issues should receive minimal – yet appropriate – attention. Some examples of high-risk issues include transportation incidents; slip, trips and falls; exposure to harmful chemicals or environments; and workplace violence.

    Once the risks have been prioritized, they should be aligned to support key business goals and incorporated into the organization’s strategic plan. As such, some key goals may include revenue growth, expense reduction, lost time and risk reduction.

    Stay relevant.

    Assign training that is relevant to the employees’ job duties and responsibilities. Forcing employees to take training that isn’t relevant can sour them on all compliance training and reduce its effectiveness. They will not feel as invested or engaged. A job hazard analysis should be considered for every job, with the appropriate training assignments based on that analysis. Compliance training programs must provide information to help workers recognize risks and the appropriate actions to take to mitigate them. The process of keeping all employees compliant to their specific role can be overwhelming, so having an effective learning compliance-based management system is crucial.

    To keep it relevant, compliance leaders should proactively seek feedback from the learners, listen to their concerns and act quickly on their needs. To truly have a culture built on compliance, employees should feel that they have the power to improve safety and quality in the organization. Once employees realize how the training is relevant to them, their family and the company’s success, they will feel more invested in the compliance program.

    Leadership buy-in.

    Cultural change has to start at the top. A safe, people-centric culture needs to have the full support of the leadership team. Leaders can demonstrate their commitment to safety and compliance culture by including a video of themselves in the training. Leaders should view training as an opportunity to directly communicate expectations of what is and is not acceptable employee behavior. It is where employees become aware of what their leaders expect of them, how they will be held accountable, and how valuable training is for them and their family. It’s important to empower employees with the ability to be responsible for the safety of themselves and their co-workers. This is the hallmark of a mature safety culture.

    The good news is that there’s still time for most companies to fully embrace and integrate safety compliance into their culture. It all starts with learning to articulate the benefits of a safety culture and knowing the risks that occur when a company doesn’t properly train its workforce to achieve that goal.

    Include it in all of your safety topics . . . first aid, chemicals, materials handling. Do whatever is needed to ensure a working, well-documented, accurate program.

    During weekly inspections, one drench hose was always noticed with the dust covers dangling and the hose in an awkward position. Upon closer observation and following conversations with staff, it was learned that this hose was often used to fill mop buckets by placing a tie band around the activation handle and dangling into the bucket. Ingenuity at its worst. . . . and, worse, your eyewash program has now been compromised!

    These first-line emergency equipment items are truly the silent sentinels of exposure and are not given the value they deserve. Eyewash and emergency safety showers may seem like a straightforward safety program, but it is far from being a "one and done." As you manage your program progressively for years to come, consider the following items.

    The Evaluation

    You and your managers know the hazardous locations of the company, where the greatest potential for exposure injuries is present or even have occurred, and thus where the most serious need for eyewash/safety shower equipment exists. Plot it out and think about location(s) carefully.

    Emergency eyewashes should be placed in all hazardous areas as part of your first aid and vision protection efforts. Educate all employees on the specifics of the eyewash/safety shower equipment, locations within the facility, why it is there, how to use it, and that it is okay to use it. Often employees are afraid to touch the eyewash station or to report any injury related to it. Cover this in all needed languages, all shifts, and include contractors, temps, and interns.

    Proper Installation

    Chances are the installation was original to the building unless there was a process change or new hazard. Make sure everything is correct, for example that the water temperature is at safe levels. Ensure that installation is kept clutter free and out of other hazardous paths, such as equipment, level changes, etc. Pick the correct type of eyewash/shower for the work area and hazard. Budget is only one consideration here, so think it through. You may tape or paint lines on the floor. Do whatever is needed to ensure a clear pathway to the eyewash/shower unit. No stacks of junk, excess storage, or trash bins should interfere.

    Have the sign in place. As for alarms, I remember one basement eyewash/shower that was activated (I really believe by a disgruntled employee on a Friday afternoon) and it ran unobserved for two days! The water did finally manage to find a drain but caused a huge mess, resulting in wasted time to clean up and a couple of pallets of damaged product. An activation alarm can be very helpful in out-of-the-way departments especially. It alerts staff that something is wrong, either an injured employee or a mechanical issue, and is very worthwhile.

    Clever Employees

    The decisions they make can cause serious implications for your safety eyewash/shower program. Often employees use drench hoses inappropriately as regular hoses for filling buckets or washing down sink areas or equipment. Filth and bacteria can directly impact an employee utilizing such equipment in an emergency. I remember one drench hose being used to assist in cleaning fish! Other clever employees who inspect the equipment do so only on paper, giving a false sense of security that all equipment works when in truth it may not activate when needed. Hopefully, that pathetic employee will move on so that your program to protect employees will actually work in spite of their laziness. Meanwhile, you have to verify everything done "just in case," times two.

    Education/Proper Use

    Train, train, document, repeat! This needs to be a hands-on training with the opportunity to ask questions. Explain why the eyewash is there to help protect them and how to activate, and just as important, how to shut off. Include first aid, calling for help, calling in problems immediately for correction. Add this as part of your drill activation each year.


    Maintenance must be on board with the eyewash/shower program and attend to maintenance requests quickly. If an employee seeing a leaking safety shower simply turns the water off, a greater hazard has been created.


    Utility issues with water? Retest when service is restored. Portable units on which the expiration tag is hard to read? Place an easy-to-read sticker on it. Non-plumbed to drain the unit? Explain why this is to employees who think automatically it is the low-bid builder. Chances are it is environmental and not dumping something toxic into the drain.

    Cleanup? This is a big deal. How to clean up hundreds of gallons of water rolling down the walkway? Teach employees how to use the equipment properly, shut it off, and what to use to mop up contaminated water quickly. If you have questions, vendors have specific remedies, including portable catchment basins for emergency situations.

    Weekly Activation and Annual Flushing

    I hear of few who enjoy the weekly activation. Whether done by the area employees or maintenance or the safety staff, the required activation is the only way to verify the equipment is in working order and ready to use in an emergency. Problems can be detected, reported, and resolved quickly. Activation matters. It's not slap and go, but full, real activation to make sure it will work as designed. If I worked in an area requiring an eyewash, I would test it daily!


    Do you have your policy and related policies in order? Are appropriate tags and inspection logs available for audits? Did your employees sign that they received and understood the training offered? Do they know how to call in a problem if noticed? And do you have all annual flushing test results and procedures? Can you pull everything on demand?

    Emergency Care

    Are processes in place to take care of the injured employee immediately, transport the individual to the hospital, and back up his or her lost work time by way of a trained replacement? Can you explain to upper management why everything you thought was in place failed? Have first aid that works within reach. Design your first aid kits with a need for large-scale injury/burns/chemical exposure. You already have to check the eyewash weekly, so it is ideal to have first aid close by and to keep a watch on it, as well.

    You want high visibility for this program. Are those emergency call numbers posted? Are they current? Does the phone work? (Yes, it does bear repeating that safety means redundancy. Emergency preparedness means planning for the worst.)

    More Than Just a Code

    The eyewash and safety shower program is one of the most under-utilized, overlooked, and abused through misuse and mismanagement that we must maintain. This should never be an add-on or afterthought program, but instead be front and center and regularly upgraded, as needed. Diligent care and continuous maintenance and follow-up are required for the life of the program elements.

    Admittedly, most safety professionals see this program as a necessary evil that will never be used and give courtesy time to the program development and training elements. A really good inspector will not ask the safety person about the eyewash program—the inspector will quiz the line employee working closest to it. If the employee does not know the answers, a great deal of your credibility goes out the window. If your paperwork shows diligent activation and flushing but the unit does not work, is sluggish, or is dirty, expect fines. You deserve them.

    Most industries, from heavy industry to medical technology, have need of an eyewash/safety shower program. Consider your production and your hazard assessment.

    Face it and deal with reality: This is a lackluster, tough program that is difficult to keep interested in. It is a "what if something bad happens." Talk about it each and every time first aid is mentioned, or housekeeping, chemical safety, maintenance work orders, water supplies, new employee orientation—you name it. Make sure employees are not afraid to use the equipment and know how to clean up if needed before they have gallons of water on the floor and all the tile starts coming up. It is worth every consideration, the nagging of supervisors, employees, maintenance—and, in my case, even hauling the bucket myself to test them on night shift so that employees know they are checked—to prevent injuries at the workplace, which is part of the compassionate service of professional safety. Your eyewash and safety shower program may not be exciting, but if ever needed, the proper use can be lifesaving.


    Formal training is not enough. Gravity doesn’t need to go to school. She is a master at pulling all objects toward the center of our blue planet and has been doing so since the dawn of time. So, yep, she is the grand master. Whereas we mere mortals are still learning how to counter her effects. Part of our learning is how to protect our workers at height from falling into her grasp. And OSHA recognizes we are still learning and thus requires employers to provide appropriate training to protect their workers at height – as well as from the grand master’s constant grip.

    There are several roles and responsibilities within any comprehensive fall protection program, and there are just as many courses of instruction that provide a baseline of knowledge and skills designed to get the individuals occupying these positions started, or to enhance their ability to perform in these roles. But no single course of instruction currently covers, nor will ever cover, every bit of knowledge needed for every work-at-height situation.

    Training as a launchpad

    So this is where it will begin to make sense. Fall protection training is the beginning and should not and cannot be thought of as the “end all” for whatever role and responsibility for which you are training. Whatever training you attend and complete should be viewed as the launching point to get you started on learning everything you can about fall protection. This includes compliance requirements, fall protection system capabilities and limitations, the dynamics of a fall including clearance requirements and swing fall, post-fall rescue, and as importantly, what is the best fit for your Authorized Persons.

    Gaining the knowledge and understanding of these and many other facets of fall protection requires continuous self-study and research. It also requires getting out and visiting your facility to find out what the structural geometry is and to learn about the processes as well as the Authorized Person’s needs and concerns.

    During the past 35 years, I have attended training for all sorts of occupational duties, and the one common denominator has been that all of them provide a foundation to build from. For the most part, I felt I could function in the role I was being trained for, but I would equate it to functioning at the “apprentice” or “journeyman” level. I knew I still had much to learn before mastering the task.

    This is especially true for fall protection training. To learn every single OSHA requirement regarding fall protection is a very tall order. I don’t know of any fall protection Competent Person course that covers it all or would attempt to cover it all. And to know the particular challenges of every location where work is performed at height can only be gained through experience. In order to move toward mastering the craft, it is important to take the initiative to learn beyond the formal training.

    Digital age makes it easier

    However, self-study is so much easier than it was 15 or 20 years ago. The ease of accessing OSHA standards, letters of interpretation, summaries, and explanations of final rules, and other OSHA resources pertaining to fall protection on the Internet opens up a wealth of information.

    It is also my good fortune that I visit many different client sites where I encounter a smorgasbord of fall protection challenges which provide learning opportunities. Oftentimes, I am able to recite the information nearly verbatim that pertains to the issue, but as often as not, I need to do some research to locate the answer or to refresh my memory once again. This is expected, and in lieu of a photographic memory, there is just too much information to learn and retain with 100 percent accuracy.

    With the emerging technologies in manufacturing and design of fall protection equipment and systems, it is often a great learning exercise to visit some of the leading equipment manufacturers’ and retailers’ online catalogs. It is actually pretty exciting to peruse these sites and see many of these modern solutions.

    And the equipment isn’t limited to lanyards and body support either. Solutions include temporary or permanent retro-fitted guardrail systems, harness mount SRLs, non-penetrating anchor connectors, temporary user installed horizontal lifelines, and the list goes on. Inviting a fall protection dealer representative to your site may prove to be very educational and beneficial time spent.

    Real-world assessments

    Much of the continuing education we have talked about so far is in “black and white” -- in the form of regulations or interpretations, or a form of equipment that has accompanying printed user instructions. The intangibles are often the most difficult and dynamic pieces of the puzzle to learn. Getting out into the work environment is a very big part of your ongoing self-education.

    Performing a fall hazard survey as outlined in ANSI Z359.2 is a great starting point for learning the various means of protecting workers from falls. Always keeping the hierarchy of fall protection in mind, performing a comprehensive assessment of the known and potential areas for work at height will definitely provide an education.

    Now is the time to take your knowledge of compliance requirements, the BKM/BKPs, a broad knowledge of the equipment available and determine what will work best for the configuration of the structure, the environmental conditions, and also through interviewing the workers that will be employing the equipment, to learn what their needs are. Will they need equipment that provides a high degree of mobility? Are they exposed to hot working environments? This can only be determined by talking to and listening to the Authorized Persons and their foremen.

    Considering a formal fall protection course the endpoint for your fall protection training -- no matter what capacity you are working in -- is doing a disservice to your co-workers and to yourself. Accept the onus of continuing your “training” through self-study, visiting the equipment offerings, assessing the working environment and the needs of the workers to do their jobs. It is all part of your continuing fall protection education.


    Identifying firefighter hazards, response area features and potential operations help in PPE selection

    Most firefighters and officer should be informed and educated about what a risk assessment is and why it's a vital component in making emergency operations safer, more effective and more efficient. Conducting a risk assessment forces the incident commander to identify the risks to civilians and firefighters, prioritize those risks and develop an incident action plan that addresses those risks as part of the overall incident management strategy.

    One of the key factors in reducing those on-scene risks to fire department personnel is personal protective equipment (PPE). But before fire department leaders select the PPE their personnel will use, they should conduct a risk assessment to ensure that the gear they select is the right gear for the job.

    Why conduct a PPE risk assessment?

    If a fire department purchases a structural firefighting ensemble that’s compliant with NFPA 1971: Standard on Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting, everything should be OK, right?

    Sure, if one size fits all – which we know is not the case.

    When a fire department conducts a systematic risk assessment for the purposes of selecting the right PPE for its personnel, it means identifying the particular hazards that their personnel may encounter in the course of their duties. It then describes the appropriate levels of personal protection necessary for the firefighters to operate safely, effectively and efficiently when those hazards may be present.

    NFP 1851: Standard on Selection, Care, and Maintenance of Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting, specifies that a fire department conduct a risk assessment before selecting PPE for its people. In Chapter 5 (Selection), the standard clearly articulates the criteria that should be used for that risk assessment. The explanatory material contained in Annex A of the standard is equally expansive in helping a fire department’s leaders to develop and complete a good risk assessment prior to selecting PPE for purchase (and not just structural firefighting gear, though that is a large part of the standard).

    But remember, NFPA standards are not laws or regulations (two common misconceptions). They are consensus standards developed by Technical Committees composed of representatives from the fire service, manufacturers, vendors and allied fire service organizations. Fire departments are not required to follow NFPA standards.

    OSHA 29 CFR 1910.132, Personal Protective Equipment: General Requirements, provides the regulatory requirement for conducting a risk assessment before selecting PPE for purchase and before being placed in service.

    “Protective equipment, including personal protective equipment for eyes, face, head, and extremities, protective clothing, respiratory devices, and protective shields and barriers, shall be provided, used, and maintained in a sanitary and reliable condition wherever it is necessary by reason of hazards of processes or environment, chemical hazards, radiological hazards, or mechanical irritants encountered in a manner capable of causing injury or impairment in the function of any part of the body through absorption, inhalation or physical contact.”

    The OSHA standard goes on to require that all PPE must be safely designed and constructed for the work that will be done using the PPE. To that end, OSHA 1910.132 requires that the employer assess the workplace (and for fire departments, workplace includes the emergency scene) to identify hazards or potential hazards that require the use of PPE. The employer should then select and ensure that the affected employees use the types of PPE that will protect them from the hazards identified in the hazard assessment.

    Criteria for PPE risk assessment

    NFPA 1851 provides detailed requirements to include in your PPE risk assessment:

  • Duties. What types of duties will personnel conduct while wearing the ensemble or ensemble element? (e.g., laying and connecting hose lines; carrying, placing, and climbing ladders; holding nozzles and directing fire streams; operating fire apparatus).

  • Frequency. How frequently will personnel use the firefighting ensemble or ensemble element? What are the numbers and types of fires that the department responded to? What are the numbers and types of non-fire calls that department responded to (e.g., hazardous material emergencies, motor vehicle crash extrications, EMS calls, technical rescue emergencies).

  • Satisfaction. What are the experiences of individuals using the ensemble or ensemble elements? This part of your assessment should have each departmental member rate their level of satisfaction with the ensemble components of their existing turnout gear.

  • Operations. What types of incident operations do departmental personnel engage in? Firefighting? (e.g., interior fire attack, exterior fire attack, primary and secondary searches). Rescue/EMS? (e.g., extrication with hydraulic/power tools, providing BLS/ALS treatment, urban search and rescue, trench rescue, high-angle rescue, confined space rescue, hazardous materials).

  • Response area topography. Where is your department located geographically? What’s the topography of the area? What type of climate is typical of the area?

  • Response area features. Does the department have any specific physical areas of operation that have an influence on what protective gear is needed? For example, an urban department with numerous highways and roadways in its service area will have different PPE needs than a rural department that has less heavily traveled country roads. A coastal fire department with many waterways in its response area will likely need PPE that includes personal floatation devices.

  • CBRN. What’s the likelihood of a response to a CBRN terrorism incident?

  • Hazard/risk identification. What types of risk (e.g., physical, biological, chemical, radiological, thermal, environmental) can personnel potentially be exposed to?

  • Hazard/risk evaluation. For those identified potential risks, what’s the probability of personnel being exposed to each risk?

  • Establishing priorities. What does the department expect from each protective ensemble component?

    Personal protective gear is some of the most important equipment that any fire department must purchase and provide for its personnel. Make sure that your department’s selection and purchasing decisions are made after a complete risk assessment to determine if the personnel protective gear elements under consideration match up well with the anticipated hazards that the protected individual may encounter.



  • Tackling sound issues when the heat rises

    The long-running, scorching hot summer of 2018 provided a new range of considerations for health and safety professionals looking to protect their workforce.Aside from the usual concerns of dehydration, skin protection for workers outdoors and general lethargy, the issue of noise control also came to the fore.

    In this article, expert acousticians from the Association of Noise Consultants (ANC), led by author David Garritt, set out some of the main issues that should be considered at this time of year to ensure good acoustic performance is achieved when the temperature rises.

    The need for good acoustics

    Environmental noise can have negative impacts on the health and wellbeing and is a well-recognised public health risk.The World Health Organization in their latest Environmental Noise Guidance states that exposure to noise presents the second largest health risk to the population of Western Europe, second only to poor air quality.

    Impacts on health and wellbeing include cardiovascular disease, annoyance and distractions in activities such as reading and conversation. The workplace is one area where unwanted noise can have a considerable impact – and the warm weather can significantly amplify the issue.his is therefore a very important matter, as good acoustics are a vital element of the workplace environment, yet it is a subject which is often overlooked.

    Working in hot conditions

    Within the workplace, the most obvious change in noise levels during heat-spells affects people working indoors – typically in offices – as they open their windows during hot weather.

    The sound insulation of a closed window is generally around 25-30dBA but this drops to only 10-15 dBA when opened. As offices are by their nature often in town or city centres, they are often subject to significant road traffic sound.While it may be expected that sound levels will increase with the opening of windows and a moderate increase may be tolerated, the resulting indoor sound climate may not be acceptable.Furthermore, simply opening the windows on a hot, calm day may not be enough to achieve the indoor conditions/temperature desired. A large open plan office with many people in may still have issues of temperature control and feeling ‘stuffy’ because of too little air circulation even with windows open.Workers often then reach for the desk fans, which create some air circulation and can feel a little cooler, however, the fans are usually noisy.As a result, the combination of feeling too hot, then having elevated sound levels from outside through open windows, plus the extra sources of many desk fans can lead to a rather unpleasant and inefficient working environment.

    In industrial environments, and commercial ones too depending on the nature of the work carried out within, for example, night clubs and other music venues, there is also the potential for noise inside the building to escape and impact on nearby dwellings or other noise sensitive buildings when windows or doors are opened for ventilation.

    Seeking answers

    One solution to control the heat whilst avoiding these issues of excessive noise inside and outside the building is to have an effective air conditioning/ventilation system.This does of course create its own noise issues though, so attention needs to be paid in this area.

    The issue of noise, ventilation and overheating is a pressing one, particularly in light of the changing climate patterns and drive towards more energy efficient buildings.The upshot is that maintaining a comfortable acoustic and thermal environment in the workplace during the summer months can be helped with an appropriate ventilation strategy, but it is often not as simple as “sticking an air conditioning unit on the side of the building”.

    Key considerations

    To ensure good acoustic performance is achieved in harmony with an effective cooling method, it is important to consider the acoustic design of a mechanical ventilation system in a few key areas including the following.

    Sound level created in the room via ventilation terminations

    Sometimes referred to as ‘job side’ or ‘room side’, – sound level design targets/ requirements must be specified either as overall dBA values or expressed as Noise Rating (NR) values that are frequency (or musical pitch) dependent. Some clients have their own requirements for this when commissioning a new building.

    Noise and vibration from ventilation plant items

    This can be plant noise which affects other noise sensitive premises or the development they are serving, either because the units are mounted outside or have external inlet and/or outlet terminations (sometimes referred to as ‘atmosphere side’). It can also be sound received in the offices either via outdoor plant sound getting inside through windows etc, or it can be noise and vibration transmitted through the building structure if plant is mounted indoors.


    Sound can travel through ducted ventilation systems which connect rooms, effectively bypassing the sound insultation of the wall or floor separating them. Good acoustic design can provide mitigation against crosstalk.

    The right specification

    As discussed, a properly designed ventilation strategy can help to mitigate noise problems associated with trying to maintain thermal comfort in warm weather.Key to a successful outcome in terms of noise is that acoustic design is considered right at the start and included within the specification.Some ventilation engineers and attenuator suppliers will do the acoustic design as part of their remit – but they will need an appropriate acoustic performance specification to adhere to, both for indoor sound levels and outdoor noise impact and this would normally be provided by an acoustic consultant.

    Not all ventilation suppliers do the actual acoustic design though, and sometimes acousticians are asked to undertake this, especially for ventilation systems which serve highly noise sensitive spaces, such as auditoria.

    It can be a complex area.

    There is some general information in BS 8233: 2014, but detailed ventilation design is beyond the scope of that standard.The other aspect is that new fixed plant, especially outdoor mounted, may require planning permission, or evidence that the proposed units will meet any current planning conditions.Again, this is likely to need the skills of an acoustic consultant. The most common standard for rating sound from fixed plant affecting nearby noise sensitive premises is BS 4142: 2014.

    The issues which influence the sound from a ventilation system are wide ranging and all need to be considered adequately, for example:

  • Vortex noise caused by turbulent airflow across fan blades
  • Rotational noise caused by the interaction between fan impeller and the surrounding air
  • All the sound sources in fan motors, bearings and gears
  • Noise generated within the ductwork itself, where turbulence can generate significant noise, especially where turbulent air hits objects such as dampers and grilles

    The sound level received in the room is also affected by every aspect of the system including duct lagging, changes in direction of ducts, branches, changes in duct cross section area, any attenuators in the system, the terminations as well as the acoustic properties of the room being ventilated.

    Coping with hearing protection in the heat

    Another important consideration in warm conditions is the protection of workers who are already exposed to noise regardless of the weather conditions. The Noise at Work Regulations require companies to reduce the noise levels that employees are exposed to as much as practicable, but it is not possible to provide everyone with a suitably quiet working environment. This not only applies to factories and workshops, but is also inevitable in spaces which are designed to have high noise levels, such as night clubs.

    For those members of staff whose job demands hearing protection as a permanent fixture, the situation can present unwelcome discomfort and distraction as temperatures soar.

    One of the main complaints heard from workers during Noise Awareness Training in the workplace is that they find ear protection uncomfortable at the best of times. Add perspiration to the mix and people can find them even more of an irritation.Personal comfort is really the main problem with the actual use of hearing protection in the heat, and this can bemitigated to some extent by individuals finding the type of protection they find most comfortable.

    It is highly recommended to try as many different sorts of protection as possible to reach the most satisfactory outcome, because our ears are all different and there are a number of options available.Most of the disposable ear protection plugs ones are cheap and so can be tried at will. The ‘in ear’ foam/sponge tyre plugs come in a few shapes, and there are also the ‘in ear’ plugs on string, which look like little Christmas trees.Another type of protection are ear caps on a hard, blue plastic band – and there are even ones moulded to an individual’s ear. Interestingly, some types of ear protection even incorporate active noise control.

    Finally, there are also the big over ear defenders. These are my personal “The human ear is an incredible device that can detect an enormous range of sounds. To cope with this range, sound levels are measured using a logarithmic scale – the decibel.

    It is actually the Bel scale that is truly logarithmic and was used at first for sound, with the human range being between 0-13 Bels. This is not very descriptive and so each Bel was divided into ten, hence the deci – Bel with a small d and capital B with a typical range of 0-130 dB.This means that a change in sound level of 3 dB is equivalent to a doubling or halving of sound energy. A change of 10 dB represents a change in sound energy by a factor of 10. So for example, 90 dB has twice the sound energy of 87 dB, and 80 dB has just one tenth of the sound energy of 90 dB.

    To add further complexity, the human ear has a very unique set of gain controls so that we hear changes in sound level differently to the physical change in energy.

    For most people, a change of 3 dBA is significantly noticeable if the two sounds are played consecutively, but it does not sound like the doubling or halving in sound energy that a 3 dBA change actually represents. A change of 10 dBA is often experienced as a doubling or halving of perceived loudness or volume, whereas it is in fact a change in sound energy by ten times or one tenth. The letter ‘A’ that appears after the ‘dB’ in a lot of literature, standards and articles refers to an ‘A’ weighting scale that is applied to measured sound levels to take account of the way our ears respond to frequency, or musical pitch.

    Our ears are not as sensitive to low frequency (bass) sound as they are to higher frequency sound, and this A weighting scale seeks to provide a numerical correction for this to enable accurate comparison of sound levels that we may hear in the environment.”method of choice and the ones I prefer to use, but I only need them for relatively short periods and in hot weather they really can make you feel hot and uncomfortable.

    This list of types of ear protection is by no means exhaustive and clearly there are a number of options to try.Regardless of the type of hearing protection chosen, it is absolutely vital to bear in mind that the discomfort which might be encountered through wearing hearing protection in the heat still remains a better proposition than sustaining hearing damage.



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