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The GCCs’ construction industry continues to grow. According to a survey in April 2019 by law firm Pinsent Mason, construction companies in the area expect to receive more orders this year than last, with Saudi Arabia identified as being the leading market to deliver growth.Read More
Make the proper PPE choices for your employees working in confined spaces.Read More
Departments should proactively check with members about gear fit, not expect firefighters to complain when it doesn’tRead More
To prevent accidents as prevalent as those related to the eyes, taking a predictive approach to planning is key.Read More
In EMT class and bloodborne-pathogens training, we’re taught to wear our gloves. Most EMS providers do so without thinking—they just pull them on as they exit their apparatus or approach a scene. They often carry extra pairs in their pocket or on their belt just in case.

Eye protection doesn’t seem to have the same sway. A 2016 study found its EMS usage varies based on department policy and personal preference. This article will review why eye protection for EMS is a sound idea and offer suggestions for how to be more consistent with wearing it.

Workplace Dangers

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, nearly 20,000 eye injuries occur at work each year.1 Further, nearly 90% of these injuries could be avoided if appropriate eye protection were worn. Granted, a majority of these injuries are industrial, rather than medical, yet EMS can find itself in nearly any situation rendering care.

According to the AAO, common causes of eye injuries include particles, debris, fluids, chemicals, and flying objects. Bloodborne and other pathogens, like the kinds to which EMS is repeatedly exposed, are part of this list. Additionally, much like your skin, your eyes can be harmed by repeated exposure to UV rays.

It is not known precisely when eye protection first came to be used in the medical field, but records indicate that a 1903 patent was granted to Ellen Dempsey of Albany, N.Y., for a transparent “sanitary face shield for protection from inhaling disease producing germs.”2 Today the relevant safety standards for eye protection are ANSI/ISEA Z87.1-2015, which prescribes the design, performance specifications, and marking of eye and face safety products worn in occupational settings, and OSHA’s 1910 standard on bloodborne pathogens.

According to OSHA, appropriate eyewear should have the “ability to protect against specific workplace hazards, should fit properly, and be reasonably comfortable to wear.”3 It should also “provide unrestricted vision and movement, should be durable and cleanable, and should allow unrestricted functioning of any other required PPE.

If there is a foreseeable or expected blood or bloodborne pathogen contact with the mucous membranes of the eye, appropriate eye protection needs to be worn. Regular prescription glasses do not provide adequate eye protection. What does?

Eye-Protection Options


According to the CDC, appropriately fitted goggles with a manufacturer’s antifog coating provide the most reliable practical eye protection from splashes, sprays, and respiratory droplets.5 Goggles, like the military-style ones often paired with EMS helmets, also protect from debris and particles. But while they protect the eyes, goggles typically do not protect the nose, mouth, or face. The same would be true for larger safety goggles, such as the kind you used to wear in high school science class.

Face shields—

Face shields can be found as part of a fire or EMS helmet ensemble, stand-alone durable full shields, or disposable shields made of lightweight plastic film attached to a surgical mask. The advantage is that face shields provide protection for the entire face, although a disposable face shield will not protect the wearer from particles or weighted flying objects.

Safety glasses—

Safety glasses typically provide good protection from debris and impact but are mediocre at best when it comes to splash and droplet protection. They can be combined with an N95 or other mask for mouth and nose protection from pathogens.

Full face respirators and SCBA masks—

While both of these provide excellent protection from all eye injuries, they are not practical solutions for typical EMS responses.

Many departments have policies that require hand and eye protection on every patient contact. Santa Clara County (Calif.), for example, requires this, plus a surgical face mask or face shield if there is a chance of droplet or airborne transmission, such as through a patient coughing or vomiting or EMS providing invasive treatments.

The most common form of glasses worn by EMS is sunglasses. Be sure your shades are UV-rated and, for extra protection, impact-protected as well. Remember, regular sunglasses may provide protection from the sun but will protect against few other hazards on the EMS scene.

If your department doesn’t have a policy requiring use of protective eyewear on every patient contact, it is up to you to create your own personal culture of safety. Get in the habit of donning goggles or safety glasses when you don gloves. Keep a surgical mask and/or disposable face shield in your pocket with your gloves. Don’t leave the goggles up on your helmet when working an accident scene. It’s your vision and your beautiful eyes—keep them both protected!


Metal fabrication is an integral part of many different industries, and it can be one of the most dangerous due to the tools and techniques necessary to complete each task. Metal shop injuries are often extreme and can be even fatal in some situations. Why is metal fabrication safety so important? What can shop owners and supervisors do to ensure their factory floors are as safe as possible?

Common safety problems

A company that doesn't focus on creating a safety culture or providing the correct personal protective equipment and training is failing its workers. Accidents in the metal shop frequently cause loss of limb or even death. What are some of the most common fabrication safety concerns?

  • No safety guards: Most fabrication equipment comes with safety guards installed to prevent injuries, as well as an emergency shutoff switch and sensors to keep employees safe. Removing these safety measures makes the equipment inherently more dangerous, even if it saves a little bit of time.
  • Lacking or ill-fitting personal protective equipment (PPE): Personal protective equipment will vary from job to job — someone working with caustic chemicals will need different PPE than someone who's sandblasting. Someone using sand to sandblast2 might need different PPE than someone using steel shot. Companies that don't provide and maintain PPE that fits properly are putting their employees at risk.
  • Insufficient training: Expecting employees to work on a piece of equipment they haven't been trained on is a recipe for disaster. Training should be ongoing. Don't expect a single training session to be sufficient, regardless of how often the employee uses that particular piece of equipment.
  • No safety culture: Safety might be the primary responsibility of management and supervisors, but everyone from the highest-paid CEO to the newest fabricator needs to be involved in keeping the workplace safe. Without a culture that revolves around safety, accidents and injuries can happen.
  • Rushed, harried or stressed workers: Employees need to be in the right state of mind when they're working on the fabrication floor. If they're stressed out about a deadline or rushing to complete an order on time, they're more likely to take shortcuts or make mistakes that could result in an injury.
  • Poor housekeeping: Heavy equipment isn't the only risk on the production floor. Poor housekeeping — dirty floors that get slippery, garbage on the ground that could create a tripping hazard or unattended spills, for example — can create safety hazards.

    Safety should be on everyone's mind on a metal fabrication production floor, from the moment they clock in until they leave for the night. Newer equipment is starting to make that focus a little bit easier to maintain.

    Built-in safety features

    Many new pieces of equipment come from the factory with worker safety in mind. Take a power-press, for example — a high-powered machine used to shape sheets of metal. It presses downward with massive force, and the most common injury that occurs when using one of these machines is amputation.

    New power presses are equipped with sensors3 that will not allow the machine to complete a press cycle if it detects a problem. If there's a hand or other body part in the way, the press will not move. These sensors use light. If the beam of light is broken, the equipment goes into safety mode and can't be used again until the problem is corrected.

    This advancement doesn't just help keep workers safer — it also helps improve productivity by preventing the inevitable downtime that follows an on-the-job injury. If a production floor only has one power-press, an injury could take that integral machine offline for hours or days during a worker’s compensation investigation.

    These same beams of light can be used to mark off the safe perimeter surrounding a piece of equipment to prevent an employee from accidentally wandering into a dangerous area while a machine is in use. The principle is the same — if someone breaks a beam, the device will stop working until the problem is corrected.

    The right direction

    Metal fabrication has been a part of the manufacturing industry for a long time. The tools and techniques have changed, but the need for shaped metal in everything from automotive manufacturing to construction has not.

    Consistent training, establishing a culture of workplace safety and ensuring each machine is still equipped with its safety guards are all steps in the right direction. Supervisors may be buying the safety equipment, but keeping the production floor safe and productive is everyone's responsibility.



  • Armed with a proper understanding of chemical exposure risks and available safety solutions, engineers can be confident in selecting the best personal protective equipment to provide reliable barriers to workplace hazards

    There is a tendency to think about personal protective equipment (PPE) in the workplace in the abstract — as a requirement to be checked off, rather than a critical component of worker safety and often the last line of defense. Most organizations care deeply about safety, of course, but their understanding of PPE — especially PPE designed to protect against chemical exposure — can be limited.

    That is a problem, because different chemicals react differently to different PPE materials, and even today, there are examples of well-meaning companies that provide the wrong PPE to workers handling various types of dangerous chemicals. Just last year, there was an incident in which a manufacturer discovered a gap in its PPE program only when workers suffered adverse effects, believed to be because of exposure to chemicals in the workplace. It was a costly mistake, resulting in significant fines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA; Washington, D.C.; www.osha.gov) and an overhaul of the company’s PPE program and other related safety and occupational hygiene protocols.

    This type of situation is not unusual, and it is easy to understand why. There are anywhere from 25,000 to 84,000 chemicals in use in the U.S. today, and this wide range is indicative of the difficulty the industry faces in tracking and cataloguing chemicals that are in active use. Imagine the challenge facing employers — they know they need chemicals with certain properties to produce their products, but the universe of chemicals is vast, changing every day, and those chemicals have diverse properties and present different risks in the workplace. Although the challenge to select the proper chemical PPE is daunting, it is certainly not impossible. This article provides some guidelines to help in the selection of PPE for chemical processing facilities.

    Where to begin

    There are some basic questions employers should ask when putting together a chemical PPE plan as part of their hazard risk assessment program, with the answers providing a reliable roadmap to optimal safety for their workers.

    What are the chemical hazards?This seems simple, but it is far from it. Many work environments have multiple individual chemicals and combinations of chemicals (mixtures), and PPE providing protection from one chemical may not protect from others (Figure 1). Certain PPE materials provide effective protection against specific chemicals. Table 1 provides some common examples, but employers should consult with a manufacturer before choosing any PPE. Having a thorough inventory of chemicals that are present in a workplace is critical to ensuring appropriate risk assessments are in place, with appropriate worker-exposure prevention measures in place, including PPE. From there, it is important that any potential cross-exposure for multitasking employees is understood and accounted for in the PPE plan. Maybe that means different types of PPE, or maybe it changes the way workers approach various tasks, but the goal is to avoid unexpected exposure for workers who believe they are protected.

    It is critical to remember that there is no single product that will protect a worker against all types of chemical hazards. Safety managers must therefore be experts in their work environments and provide the appropriate PPE for every given situation. Sometimes, the appropriate PPE can consist of multiple pieces of equipment, such as protective clothing, facemasks, gloves, boots and so on (Figure 2). Proper protection may also demand additional performance requirements, especially where there are secondary hazards, such as heat and flames, or explosive atmospheres to consider. It is not uncommon to see workers in complex chemical environments utilizing multi-hazard or multi-risk PPE to ensure they are protected against all hazards.

    What are the physical hazards and needs of the working environment?It is easy to get lost in the complexity of chemical protection, but the reality is the risks to workers are not limited to chemical exposure. What are the threats for abrasion, exposure to heat and flame or extreme temperatures, or tears or punctures to protective clothing? Even a perfectly matched chemical protective suit is ineffective if it has a hole in it. There are solutions for multiple hazards — sometimes all-in-one PPE solutions, other times layered protection. The first step is understanding all the risks.

    How are the workers exposed to the chemical? This is an important and often overlooked consideration. PPE selection can be different depending on whether the chemical is in liquid, particulate or gaseous form, and if the potential exposure is brief or extended. Exposure to saturating liquid spray for example, versus a light splash, presents a different challenge for PPE and therefore must be considered as part of the risk assessment

    Next to the nature of the chemical, exposure time is one of the greatest determinants of appropriate protection. When assessing the effectiveness of PPE as it relates to exposure time, it is important to understand its performance in terms of chemical penetration and permeation. Penetration is the movement of large and likely visible quantities of chemical through a PPE material and can occur by movement of the chemical through a hole or a faulty seam, for example. Permeation is the process by which very small and likely invisible quantities of chemical pass through the protective material on a molecular level (typically in microgram quantities). It can be measured as a benchmark relative to other PPE in terms of permeation rate (how fast the chemical passes through the PPE material) and normalized breakthrough time (the time taken to reach a specified permeation rate, enabling different test laboratories to test to the same threshold).


    New equipment, products, or chemicals might make the PPE that was perfect last year less than ideal for what you're doing now. It's also worth asking if any new OSHA rules affect the PPE you choose.

    Innovations in Safety

    Safety always comes first, so it's important to review the PPE you're using to see whether there's something that might protect even better. New innovations, improved technologies, and unique materials hit the market every year.

    Manufacturers have begun creating gloves and other PPE with:

  • higher cut resistance to meet the higher ANSI cut-levels that now go all the way up to A9
  • better visibility, including high-vis safety gear with different colors and options to allow workers to be seen
  • touchscreen compatibility so workers can keep their gloves on when using an iPad or phone—so no more forgetting to put them back on
  • better palm coatings for extra grip and less mess
  • customizable options and add-ons to meet more specific safety needs

    Many of these weren't available even three years ago. So if you haven't taken a look at what’s new, you may not have the best protection. This is particularly important if your workers face extreme hazards or conditions, as manufacturers tend to focus on these areas to solve problems.

    Innovations in Worker Comfort

    Safer PPE can't help your workers if they won't wear it. That makes innovations in comfort just as important as safety developments to protect your people. Review your applications and ask your employees whether they have hand fatigue at the end of the day or whether they find that their PPE tends to trap moisture or heat. Advances in materials and construction keep workers more comfortable and more compliant than ever before through:

  • mesh constructions and special venting that let heat and moisture dissipate
  • lighter cut-resistant materials that create gloves with incredible dexterity and flexibility to avoid hand-fatigue
  • coreless material infused with strength-enhancing micro-particles that allow workers with sensitive skin to avoid contact dermatitis
  • impact gloves with better dexterity and movement
  • low-profile impact gloves for lighter-duty jobs that require more flexibility

    Changes to Your Applications or Environment

    Periodic reviews aren't just about the PPE marketplace. If it's been a while since you reviewed your operations, it's possible things have changed. Have you implemented new:
  • machinery or equipment in your plant that requires different protection
  • items that add to hazards such as the noise level and might require better hearing protection
  • internal rules or guidelines
  • environments or job sites
  • products you're manufacturing
  • techniques that make the materials your workers handle more dangerous or harder to manipulate
  • substances or chemicals that may require better gloves or full-body protection

    Any of these might make the PPE that was perfect last year less than ideal for what you're doing now. It's also worth asking if any new OSHA rules affect the PPE you choose.

    Normalization of Deviance

    Periodic PPE reviews can even help with problem areas you may not have noticed. Do you find yourself issuing more reminders than you used to?

    You might be falling victim to Normalization of Deviance.1 This happens when one worker begins to bend the rules. Other workers see that person slacking off on safety, and they think it's acceptable—so they start to mimic the behavior. Their bad example leads others to see it as normal and, before you know it, you're telling every other worker to wear their safety glasses. One way to break out of this pattern is to start fresh.

    Review your PPE and ask your workers why they were reluctant to wear it in the first place. You might find that you have comfort or safety issues that you weren't aware of. Or it may be as simple as workers not liking the way they look in their gear.2 Getting worker buy-in to new PPE choices can eliminate many of your daily headaches.

    Workers' Changing Needs

    Ideally, we all want our workers to stick around. Training costs time and money, and there's no substitute for a veteran worker whom you can count on to know the ropes and do the job. But more years on the job mean more candles on the birthday cake, so it's important to review your PPE choices to be sure you're providing everything your aging workforce needs. This may include:
  • prescription safety eyewear for workers who used to wear regular safety glasses but now need a little help with close or distant vision
  • PPE with better dexterity and flexibility to reduce fatigue
  • headsets to improve noise attenuation and sound quality in loud environments

    Even younger workers might benefit from a periodic review if they have physical considerations such as back strain or other chronic pain.

    Better Safe than Sorry

    If you review your PPE choices and find that everything you're using is still a perfect fit, you've probably at least learned something from the extra check-in with your workers. But if you find that there's an issue you missed or some way you can do things better, you may have avoided an accident or injury. If you don't feel you have the time, consult a safety expert who can perform a thorough safety assessment.

    Protecting your workers is too important to get by on good enough. Review your PPE to maximize your workers' safety!



  • AR/FR PPE goes through daily wear and tear rigors. Here are keys to ensuring the longevity of your investment.

    In creating an AR/FR personal protective equipment (PPE) program, you should dedicate a fair amount of time researching, selecting and sourcing quality garments to protect your employees. Time is spent on the front end to make sure that the proper garment is designed in order to comply with industry standards and provide acceptable wearer comfort.

    Once the PPE is determined, there is still an ongoing need to ensure the program is serviced—and serviced correctly.

    For example, an employee will put an AR/FR garment through the rigors of his or her daily routine, which means that it will likely become dirty and soiled over a period of time. Rather than diminish an investment through improper care, it is key to clearly understand and appropriately implement maintenance programs to increase the longevity of the clothing or PPE.

    Below you will find frequently asked questions regarding the care and maintenance of AR/FR garments to maximize your investment, and the safety of your team.

    What is the best way of cleaning AR/FR garments?

    As a rule, most AR/FR garments can be washed in a home laundry or industrial laundry. Each fabric or garment manufacturer will provide recommended laundering instructions, which usually include a restriction on using bleach, fabric softeners and starch.

  • Chlorine bleach can compromise the flame resistance of many cotton-rich FR/AR fabrics over time, and chlorine bleach-exposed garments should be removed from service.
  • Fabric softeners and starch often contain flammable components that can build up on the FR fabric surface, which can compromise its flame resistance. If fabric softener or starch is accidentally used, re-launder the garment without these products and they will wash out.

    Deciding which laundering route to take is often dictated by the environment in which the garment is worn. Different processes, such as the industrial laundering (IL) process, may be better suited to removing tough grime or buildup versus general dust and dirt. It’s important to understand your work environment and select the care program that best suits your company.

    Will flame resistant (FR) properties wear out over the course of garment use?

    As with any garment, it is important to follow the care instructions to the letter, as protective performance can be impacted otherwise. Typically though, and especially when you are sourcing a trusted, branded AR/FR fabric, the flame-resistant properties remain for the life of the garment.

    Most market-proven FR fabrics in the U.S. are engineered fabrics where FR properties are incorporated within the fabric structure instead of applied as a coating that could wear off. There is no “washing” or “wearing” out a garment’s AR/FR properties in most instances, so if the garment is cared for properly, serviceable and intact, the performance is the same on day one or day 1,001.

    If FR properties will not wear out over time, when does a garment need to be replaced?

    Judgment is an important part of making this decision. While the AR/FR properties do remain intact for the life of a properly cared for garment when using a reputable fabric brand, if the garment has shrunk or shows signs of physical wear and tear, its protective attributes have likely been compromised.

    It’s considered best practice to retire a garment when there are wearing spots, holes or tears, unless the garment can be properly repaired with like AR/FR fabric and FR thread to comply with the relevant ASTM care and maintenance standards.

    Can you wash AR/FR garments with other garments?

    It is recommended as a best practice that you wash AR/FR garments with other AR/FR garments according to manufacturer care procedures.

    If my AR/FR garment has a stain or odor, is it still safe to wear?

    Garments can be stained without impacting their AR/FR properties. Simply wash the garment according to manufacturer guidelines to remove the stain. If the stain cannot be removed, depending on size and composition of the stain, judgment must be used on determining the garment’s wearability.

    If you notice that a garment is retaining an odor even after being washed, it’s recommended that you review the care process against what the manufacturer recommended. Any garment still carrying a lingering odor may need to be replaced. My garment was involved in a short-duration thermal exposure. Can I continue using the garment?

    Once a garment is involved in a short-duration thermal exposure like an arc flash or flash fire, it should be replaced with a new garment. The incident does alter the AR/FR protection, as the garment may have been compromised in the exposure.

    Are there special considerations for repairing or patching AR/FR garments?

    When patching an AR/FR garment, it’s important to use the same AR/FR fabric. If you need to replace a button or sew a button back on, be sure to use only FR thread and high-temperature melamine buttons.

    As a rule, you should not use bleach or starch or fabric softener. Are there any other solutions you should stay away from?

    Insect repellent, especially those using DEET, are highly flammable and can compromise the AR/FR protection of a garment. Special care should be taken to spray insect repellent directly on the skin and not onto the garment.

    In addition, special laundry additives should be avoided, such as the popular anti-static, wrinkle-free dryer sheets.

    When crafting your own care program, we encourage you to review the manufacturer instructions and consider your working environment to fully tailor a plan to your situation.



  • According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), falls continue to be the leading cause of fatalities in the construction industry. To help combat this sobering, but preventable, statistic, global safety equipment manufacturer MSA Safety Incorporated (NYSE: MSA) today announced that it will conduct free fall protection training sessions, from May 6 through May 10, during OSHA's annual National Safety Stand-Down.

    As part of this week-long safety blitz – now in its sixth year – MSA will provide free, OSHA-compliant fall protection training demonstrations at construction jobsites across the U.S utilizing the company's fleet of mobile training vehicles. MSA's 50-person team of fall protection and confined space safety experts will highlight basic fall protection principles and necessary personal protective products through demos and hands-on training. Covered topics include ANSI/OSHA standards compliance, components of a fall-arrest system, equipment inspection and confined space entry and exit.

    Over the past three years, MSA has trained more than 30,000 workers on how to best check, inspect and use their life-saving fall protection equipment. However, to ensure even more workers have the opportunity to learn about proper safety protocols, the company will be expanding its training efforts beyond the approximately 200 work sites they'll be visiting in person this week.

    In addition to conducting jobsite training, MSA will be raising awareness of the importance of proper fall protection training across the company's digital properties. Employers and workers not able to participate in an on-site demo can follow the company on social media to learn more about the dangers of falls and how to prevent them.

    "OSHA's National Safety Stand-Down is a simple and focused way to remind workers and their employers of the risks of working at heights – and the steps they can take to mitigate those risks in order to return safely home each and every day," said Eleni Lucido, Vice President and General Manager of MSA's business in the U.S. and Canada. "As a safety company dedicated to seeing to 'that men and women may work in safety, MSA is committed to helping prevent workplace falls through proper training and the design of innovative products that will continue to raise the bar in fall protection safety."


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