You have no items in your shopping cart.

Set Descending Direction
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.



  • Consider all your workplace exposures to ensure compliance. Whether you’re working around dangerous chemicals, electrical systems, or fire-prone areas, you need to make sure you’re wearing the right flame-resistant (FR) clothing. If a fire occurs, FR clothing will minimize the severity of the burns, improving your chances of survival. If your employees are working around potential fire hazards, it’s your job to keep them safe by ensuring everyone is wearing proper FR clothing. Failing to provide FR rated workwear puts the health and safety of your employees at risk.

    Not all FR protective gear is created equal. Keep these considerations in mind when searching for the right FR clothing for you and your staff.

    Identify potential hazards

    The first step is to evaluate all the potential hazards you and your employees may be exposed to on the job. Every industry comes with its own set of risks. You or your employees may be exposed to more than just potential fire hazards, such as potent chemicals, excessive heat, sharp equipment, and other kinds of workplace accidents. Whatever protective clothing you choose, it should protect you and your employees from all these foreseeable hazards simultaneously. This may mean some combination of different garments where a variety of hazards exist. A thorough safety evaluation of your work environment is a must before choosing your clothing.

    Comply with industry regulations

    Certain industries come with safety standards for FR clothing, as outlined by OSHA. The NFPA has created the NFPA 2112 UL Classification, which sets safety requirements for manufacturers and certifying agencies that protect workers from flash fire exposure and injury by performance requirements and test methods for FR fabric and garments. From proper maintenance and cleaning recommendations to inspection frequency and retirement criteria, FR workwear has an extensive list of requirements necessary in order to be UL Classified.

    Depending on which industry you call home, research the latest workplace safety requirements to make sure your FR clothing meets all industry standards. Workplace safety standards are set based on the Hazard Risk Category (HRC). The NFPA 70E ranks the HRC from 1 to 4 and each category comes with its own requirements for FR clothing.

    HRC 1 comes with a minimum arc rating of 4 cal/cm² and HRC 2 comes with a minimum arc rating of 8 cal/cm². Proper clothing for both includes arc-rated shirts and pants or arc-rated/flame-resistant coveralls.

    HRC 3 comes with a minimum arc rating of 25 cal/cm² and HRC 4 comes with a minimum arc rating of 40 cal/cm². Proper clothing for both includes arc-rated shirts and pants or arc-rated/flame-resistant coveralls and an arc flash suit.

    Double check the arc-rating tag on individual items to make sure they comply with all workplace safety requirements. Properly marked FR clothing will have the ratings clearly stated, as referenced above. This includes independent classification from UL Laboratories. Simply buying an ‘FR Rated’ garment is not the same as making sure that it meets the challenges of your work environment.

    Staying comfortable on the job

    Consider the working conditions of your employees, including the temperature of the job site and what kinds of tasks your employees may need to complete on the job. You also need to supply your employees with the right sizes and styles. If you choose clothing that’s uncomfortable, cumbersome, or not the right size, your employees will be less inclined to wear it on the job.

    Choose a trusted FR clothing manufacturer

    Finally, make sure you purchase clothing from a reputable FR clothing manufacturer. From the weight of the fabric, to the brand of zipper, the details are important in offering overall satisfaction and safety to your workers. Well-made FR garments are as much a tool as they are a uniform. Good quality never goes out of style.


    Examining the systems and methods available for the recovery of a user whose fall has been arrested by personal protective equipment.

    . The basic principle of such equipment is to prevent the user hitting an injurious object by catching them at an earlier stage – namely, before the energy associated with the fall reaches terminal levels (either when hitting the floor or due to decelerations that are likely to cause death). However, one factor that is quite often overlooked in such systems is how the user is likely to be recovered once he or she suffers a fall.

    This is especially important where fall arrest is used, as the potential for permanent injury and possibly fatal consequences will increase the longer the user is left suspended following a fall. As well as the need for treating any injuries sustained in a fall, there is the effect of suspension trauma (constriction of blood vessels and pooling of blood in the limbs) to consider, which can have fatal consequences if the pressure on the user is not released within good time. The need for suitable training is therefore important, to ensure that operatives are able to carry out the rescue in as short a time as possible. In such training, the worst-case scenario should be considered, where the user who has fallen has lost consciousness. In such circumstances, they are often referred to as the ‘casualty’.

    When a CE mark is required

    In Europe, equipment intended for rescue only is outside the scope of the PPE Directive and, therefore, does not need CE marking. There are exceptions to this rule, such as where rescue equipment is integrated into fall arrest equipment. As an example, a retractable fall arrester which includes an integrated rescue winch facility would require CE marking, as would a rescue harness intended to be worn when commencing work and which incorporates other fall protection attachment points.

    There are a number of systems and methods available for the rescue or recovery of a user whose fall has been arrested, including both systems integrated into a fall arrest device and standalone products. The system and method in use will depend on the location, type of work and the type of fall arrest equipment in use and should, therefore, be tailored to each individual job.

    A number of European standards exist for typical equipment available, although the need to tailor individual systems will inevitably mean that not all products on the market will fall into the scope of a standard. Even in such circumstances, it is essential that complete systems are subject to suitable tests. These tests should include overload conditions using suitable safety factors to ensure that they are safe for use.

    EN 1496

    EN 1496:2017 details requirements and test methods for rescue lifting devices. These devices are designed to lift users from their place of rest up to a safe location after a fall, and are divided into ‘type A’ (lifting only) and ‘type B’ (lifting and limited lowering) devices. Rather than intended for lowering users down to the ground, type B devices are used for lifting casualties upwards, and for lowering over short distances of less than 2 metres, in order to negotiate obstacles. The standard includes design and material requirements for the device, including any ropes or wires used alongside the device. It also includes requirements for the strength of the device, which are defined as at least ten times the maximum rated load, with a minimum of 12kN test force (120kg user mass). This ties in with the requirements for man-riding devices under normal lifting and lowering conditions (LOLER in the UK). The standard also includes a test for the function of the device in overload conditions. The device should be capable of lifting and holding a mass equal to 1.5 times the maximum rated load of the device. An ergonomics test is also included – the device must be able to be operated under a maximum applied load (for example, to the lifting handle) of 250N.

    A dynamic performance test is carried out on type B devices. The device must be capable of arresting a mass equal to the maximum rated load after a 600mm freefall, with a maximum force applied to the mass of 6kN. This is included as a provision for if the device becomes snagged in use, leading to a small amount of freefall when the casualty is released. The maximum allowed force of 6kN ensures that the user is not subjected to excessive forces in such cases. Practically, this would usually mean that a lifting and lowering device would need to include a system for energy absorption or use rope with some inherent stretch (such as dynamic rope).

    EN 1497

    EN 1497:2007 details requirements and test methods for rescue harnesses. Rescue harnesses can be in the form of an individual harness intended to be worn by the casualty, or as a component of a fall arrest harness (for instance, additional attachments on a fall arrest harness). In the latter case, the tests would be applicable to each attachment – a harness could, for instance, include a fall arrest attachment on the back, and a rescue attachment on the front. EN 1497 includes similar requirements to those specified in EN 361:2002 (fall arrest harnesses), with a lower energy dynamic performance test to reflect the reduced severity of falls likely to be seen in use. A rescue harness should not be used in a scenario where freefall is likely to be encountered. As a result, the test is intended to cover only small-distance freefalls, such as where slack is encountered in the lifting line. Unlike fall arrest standards, the forces used in EN 1497 are based on the maximum rated load for the harness, rather than the 6kN maximum allowed arrest force.

    The dynamic performance test is, therefore, carried out using a dummy of mass equivalent to the maximum rated load. The static strength test is carried out using a force of ten times the rated load, with a minimum of 15kN.

    EN 1498

    EN 1498:2006 details requirements and test methods for rescue loops. If these loops are in the form of slings or cradles, intended to fit under the arms of the user, they are referred to as ‘Class A devices’. If they hold the user in a sitting position, they are referred to as ‘Class B devices’, with ‘Class C devices’ fitting around the ankles of the user. This standard includes dynamic performance and static strength requirements, carried out in a very similar manner to those specified in EN 1497 for rescue harnesses. In the case of class C devices, the test dummy is replaced by a solid test mass to apply the force, with the device fitted around a test form to simulate the ankles of the user.

    Other applications

    Additional systems used for rescue can incorporate components subject to other standards and test methods. One common method involves abseiling to the casualty, in which case a descender device complying with EN 341 (descender devices) or EN 12841 (rope adjustment devices) will be included, along with suitable ropes and connectors to make up the whole ‘kit’.

    Although rescue equipment does not fall within the scope of the PPE Directive, it is important that all equipment sold for the purposes of rescue has been properly tested and checked for suitability for use.

    Where a specific standard exists, buyers should always request copies of independent test reports to support any claims of compliance by manufacturers. In the absence of the formal procedure for checking ongoing compliance of manufacturing, such as defined in Article 11 of EC Directive 89/686 for PPE, it is also advisable to check that the manufacturer has a suitable quality system in place. In addition, although a product intended for rescue only cannot be CE-marked, it is always advisable that if a product could be misused as part of a fall arrest system, it should be tested as such.


    Eye protection – some may feel safety glasses or goggles are a hassle to wear and not really necessary. That notion is absolutely incorrect – in fact, eye protection is extremely crucial to your overall protection in the workplace. According to OSHA, there are an estimated 1,000 eye injuries in the workplace occurring daily.

    So, what causes all of these daily eye injuries? The answers are alarming.

  • Three out of every five workers’ injuries could have been prevented, as they lacked eye any type of eye protection at the time of the accident.
  • Wearing incorrect eye protection for the job being performed. These workers were most likely to be wearing eyeglasses that lacked side shields.

    Between lost production time, workers compensation, and medical expenses – there’s more than $300 million per year lost; there’s no reason for this. Regardless of the dollar amount spent to rectify an eye injury, ultimately, no amount can reflect the personal burden an eye injury can put on an injured worker.

    With over 90% of eye injuries being preventable if the proper eye protection is used, it is crucial to realize how much of an imperative component eye protection, is when it comes to personal protective equipment.

    This being said,

    it is necessary for your workers’ eyes are protected with recommended Personal Protective Equipment such as:

  • Safety glasses
  • Goggles
  • Face shields
  • Welding helmets
  • Hybrids that serve as a combination

    By wearing adequate eye protection, your chance of injury will be significantly decreased. It’s important to remember, that eye protection should be combined with other personal protective equipment so that one is completely protected – from head-to-toe.

    While there are multiple types of eye protection available, it’s key to make sure you are wearing the proper protection for the work. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recommends communicating to your workers the following:

  • When safety eye protection is required to wear
  • How and where is the available protective eyewear
  • How a worker is able to get a replacement of the protective eyewear if broken
  • Where eye protection is located at every station

    It’s also important to stress to workers that they must take care of their protective eyewear in order to for them to receive the upmost protection. By wearing the eyewear throughout the day, as opposed to laying them down, the chances of scratches significantly lessens. When not in use, eyewear should be stored in a glasses container. Scratched eyewear can reduce your vision and subsequently, may be a contributor to accidents.

    Ultimately, the majority of eye injuries are preventable with the use of proper protective eyewear. An injury obtained from lack of eyewear can potentially cause a lifetime of damage – make sure you and your workers make the right decision and protect your eyes!

    For information on eye protection in the workplace, subscribe to the Arbill Blog In the meantime, be sure to check out our website for more information on workplace safety guidelines, solutions and programs or contact us to learn more about Arbill.

    Topics: Arbill, eye protection, culture of safety, Reducing Workplace Injuries, eye injuries, common workplace accidents, cost of workplace injuries, cost of safety, safety products, Avoiding Workplace Accidents, cost of workplace injury
  • Safety Glasses Versus Safety Goggles

    Safety glasses do a great job providing impact protection; however, they do have a few weaknesses. Safety glasses usually have small gaps around the lenses that can make your eyes vulnerable, especially to liquids and dust. Even safety glasses with wraparound lenses cannot provide the same level of protection as a safety goggles.

    When you have to contend with splash hazards, airborne dust, and flying debris, safety goggles will prove to be a better option than safety glasses. Safety goggles provide 360-degree protection due to a tight, form-fitting facial seal; something safety glasses cannot offer.

    Examples, where safety goggles are the better option, include metal grinding, dusty conditions, chemical exposure and more. All of these situations have a higher-than-normal chance of a foreign object getting into your eyes from the side. Only goggles with a complete facial seal can protect you from these potential hazards.

    When To Wear Safety Goggles

    You should always evaluate your workplace for potential eye hazards so you can select the appropriate safety equipment. Safety goggles should be worn when the following risks are present:

  • High-velocity debris and blunt impacts
  • Splashing liquids and airborne droplets
  • Airborne dust particles
  • Caustic vapors

    Types Of Safety Goggles

    Safety goggles can provide more than enough protection from these hazards. However, you need to choose the correct type of safety goggle. Common types of goggles include:

  • Direct vent: These goggles have multiple perforations around their body to promote air flow, which reduces lens fogging. Direct vent goggles are primarily used for impact protection. Do not use this type of goggle for liquid, dust or caustic vapor protection.
  • Indirect vent: This style of goggle uses covered vents to increase air flow. Since the vents are covered, they provide better protection from liquid splash and dust. However, they shouldn’t be used around caustic vapors. Even though the covered vents help with airflow, indirect vent goggles will fog up more often. I recommend you look for models with dual-pane lenses or an anti-fog coating.
  • Non-vented: This style of goggle is completely sealed and doesn’t have any vents. They provide excellent protection from impact, splash, dust and caustic vapors. Due to the lack of vents, these goggles tend to fog up quickly; an anti-fog lens is necessary.

    Choosing the right goggle for the job ensures you’re eyes are protected.



  • Hearing Protection In The Workplace

    When does hearing loss, or hearing impairment, become the result of a work-related exposure? After all, we live in a world where loud noises are common, like from heavy city traffic, or even the music so kindly being shared through the open windows of the car stopped next to you. And there’s often that person who thinks headphones are speakers and has the music playing loud enough that it can be heard by everyone in the room. So yes, loud noise is common. And yes, loud noise can lead to hearing loss.

    There is no denying that the tools that we use in our lines of work create loud noise, too, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that employees will lose their hearing. With the proper workplace hearing protection controls in place to eliminate, reduce, and protect against potentially damaging noise exposures, we reduce the chances that our employees will experience occupational hearing loss.

    Understanding Hearing Damage

    How loud does the noise need to be to damage a person’s hearing? Hearing loss can occur when exposed to 85 decibels of noise averaged over 8 hours. Let’s put this in perspective. Normal conversations typically occur at 60 decibels, well below the hearing loss threshold. Remember those headphones used as speakers? That music was probably playing at full volume, which can often register as 105 decibels. Here’s the thing, though. For every 3 decibel increase past 85 decibels, hearing loss can occur in half the amount of time. So it only takes 4 hours of exposure to 88 decibels for hearing loss to occur, and 2 hours of exposure to 91 decibels. Once noise levels exceed 100 decibels, a person can suffer hearing damage in as little as 15 minutes. The louder the noise, the faster hearing loss occurs.

    Noise Levels In The Workplace

    Where do the tools and environments where we work fit into this picture?

  • Air compressors from 3 feet away register 92 decibels, which would take less than 2 hours to cause hearing loss
  • Powered drills register 98 decibels, which would cause damage after 30 minutes
  • Typical factories often register at 100 decibels – that’s 15 minutes of exposure
  • Powered saws can reach 110 decibels from 3 feet away, which could cause permanent hearing loss in under 2 minutes
    In short, if workers are exposed to these noise levels without protection, then hearing loss is very likely. The only way to know the exact noise levels that workers are exposed to is to conduct noise monitoring using specialized equipment, though this is only required when exposures are at or above 85 decibels. Some indications that noise levels may be this high are if employees complain about the loudness of the noise, if there are signs suggesting that employees are losing their hearing, or if the noise levels make normal conversation difficult. Also consider that these conditions may not occur across the entire work site, but may be limited to a specific task or piece of machinery.

    How then, do we protect our employees and their hearing?

    The Importance Of Hearing Protection In The Workplace

    The best protection we can provide is to eliminate the hazard, by eliminating the need to work with the tools or in the environments that create these noise exposures. Realistically, though, this isn’t always possible. We can also work to reduce the noise levels that employees are exposed to. Some tools and machines are available that are designed to operate at lower decibels, therefore reducing the risk of hearing loss. We can also implement administrative controls, such as placing a cap on the number of hours that an employee can work in a high decibel environment, or limit the hours working with specific tools and equipment.

    Our final line of protection is our PPE that meets OSHA hearing protection requirements. Ear plugs and ear muffs can reduce the decibel exposures, providing protection against hearing loss. Ear plugs provide the greatest amount of protection as long as they are inserted correctly. Therefore, employees need to be trained to wear them correctly when they are used. Ear muffs can also reduce the decibel exposures, though not to the extent that ear plugs can. They are easier to wear correctly, though, which is why some workers prefer them.

    Some high decibel exposures may be unavoidable to perform the tasks necessary for our operations, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t take steps to protect employees and their hearing while at work. What they do in their free time, like attending a rock concert (which can peak at 130 decibels), becomes their choice.

  • To safeguard against injury wear the right hatRead More
    PPE is the personal protective equipment that will protect the user against health or safety risks.The best practice advice for health and safety professionals and useful resources for further reading.

    Why is PPE important?

    In the hierarchy of risk control, PPE is considered to rank lowest and represent the option of last resort. It is only appropriate where the hazard in question cannot be totally removed or controlled in such a way that harm is unlikely (for example by isolating the hazard or reducing the risk at source to an acceptable level).

    There are a number of reasons for this approach:

    PPE protects only the person using it, whereas measures controlling the risk at source can protect everyone at the Theoretical maximum levels of protection are seldom achieved using PPE, and the real level of protection is difficult to assess (due to factors such as poor fit, or failure to wear it when required). Effective protection can only be achieved by equipment which is correctly fitted, maintained and properly used at all times;

    PPE may restrict the wearer by limiting mobility, visibility or by requiring additional weight to be carried.

    Use of PPE may alter employees’ perception of the hazards they are dealing with.

    In this context of a last resort control measure, PPE is critically important as it is generally only used where other measures are insufficient and as such it plays a crucial role in preventing and reducing many occupational fatalities, injuries and diseases.

    PPE in numbers

    This infographic provides some key facts and figures:

    Key changes

    All organisations involved with the production, importation, supply, distribution, marketing and sale of PPE will have the same responsibilities as the manufacturer, including getting product approval, making sure it conforms to the Regulation and keeping technical files and records. This will level the playing field between manufacturers and importers, and mean that fewer low-specification and counterfeit products will get into the EU marketplace.

  • Change of categorisation from product related to risk related;
  • Change of classification for certain product categories; Hearing Protection, now categorized as ‘harmful noise’ (risk) is moving from category II to III.
  • EC Declaration of Conformity to be provided (or with a web link) with each product.
  • 5-year validity / expiry date for new EU Certificates.
  • Increased obligations on ‘economic operators’ – being the total supply chain, including manufacturers, importers and distributors.

    PPE will not satisfy the requirement that it is ‘suitable’ unless:
  • It is appropriate for the risks and the conditions at the place of work;
  • It takes account of ergonomic requirements and the state of health of the person who may wear it;
  • It is capable of fitting the wearer correctly (if necessary after adjustments within the design range);
  • So far as is reasonably practicable, it is effective to prevent or adequately control the risk, without increasing overall risk;
  • It complies with community directives applicable to the item (i.e. CE marked).

    The Regulations also require that:

  • Where more than one item of PPE is to be worn, that the items are compatible;
  • PPE is properly assessed before use to ensure it is suitable – to assess the risks which the PPE is to control, to evaluate the characteristics required of the PPE in order for it to be effective against the risks, and to check that the PPE selected has those characteristics;
  • PPE is maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair (including replacement and cleaning as appropriate).
  • Appropriate accommodation is provided to store the PPE when it is not being used;
  • Employees are provided with instructions on the risks which the PPE will avoid or limit, the reason for using the PPE, how to use it safely and effectively, actions needed by the employee to keep it in good order eg cleaning, replacement, storage (such instruction must be comprehensible to the persons to whom it is provided);

    Employers take reasonable steps to ensure the PPE is used correctly by employees.

    Employees themselves also have duties to use the PPE in accordance with their training, report loss or defect and to store the PPE as instructed. The self-employed similarly have a duty to make full and proper use of PPE.

    The Regulations do not apply where there is other legislation with mandatory requirements for the provision and use of PPE in relation to specific hazards:

  • The Control of Lead at Work Regulations 2002 (as amended).
  • The Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999 (as amended).
  • The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.
  • The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (as amended)- The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 (as amended).

    Types of PPE

    Various types of PPE are available for use in the workplace. The Health and Safety Executive provides guidance and general information about types of PPE used in industry, but it doesn’t cover specialised and less-used items.

    Detailed information should be obtained from suppliers on these more specialised items. Potential users should be involved in the selection of equipment they will be expected to wear and if possible more than one model should be made available to them.

    The different types of PPE include:

  • Head and scalp protection;
  • Respiratory protection;
  • Eye protection;
  • Hearing protection;
  • Hand and arm protection;
  • Foot and leg protection;
  • Body protection;
  • Height and access protection.

    Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is legally defined as ‘all equipment (including clothing affording protection against the weather) which is intended to be worn or held by a person at work and which protects the user against one or more risks to their health or safety’.



  • Gas detection is an important part of health and safety. This article discusses the importance of gas detection in relation to identifying the nature and scale of any gas release, and how this applies to chemical incidents. It will look at the various hazards of gases such as asphyxiation, flammability and toxicity; and explain, through real life examples, why gas detection is necessary to avoid incidents or, at the very least, contain them.

    Hazardous nature of gases

    Firstly, it is important to understand which gases need to be considered during an incident and when they become dangerous – not all gases and vapours are equally hazardous. For instance, the air around us is composed of almost 80% nitrogen, which we breathe in every day, whereas we are always cautious around liquid nitrogen – so why the discrepancy between the two states? First, we should look at the chemical classification of these materials.

    The Globally Harmonised System (GHS) of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals provides a great level of consistency in classifying chemical hazards across the world. In the European Union, GHS has been adopted under European Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 on classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures (the CLP Regulation). NCEC’s emergency responders would tell you that, under CLP, the nitrogen present in air is not hazardous. Liquid nitrogen, on the other hand, which is stored at -196°C, could be dangerous.

    There have been instances where the dangers of liquid nitrogen were not understood correctly, leading to people suffering serious injuries. For example, NCEC often sees cases where bar staff have been making cocktails using liquid nitrogen and suffering injuries because they are unaware of the hazards of liquid nitrogen kept at extremely low temperatures.

    There is a visible cloud when liquid nitrogen is poured out, which is actually the water vapour in the surrounding air freezing and not the nitrogen itself. Nitrogen is a clear, colourless gas and the nitrogen gas cloud could be much further away than the visible cloud produced due to the water vapour freezing. This holds true for all gases, especially those used as refrigerants or for cryogenic purposes, where there will be a visible cloud due to the temperature at which the gas is stored.

    Asphyxiant nature of gases

    An example of the hazards of asphyxiant gases is highlighted by an incident at an orchard. Apples were being stored in a nitrogen chamber with an oxygen level of less than 1%, which keeps the apples in the best possible condition. Two members of staff were asked to retrieve some of the best apples from the back of the chamber. However, the first person collapsed while inside, as did his colleague when he tried to recover him. Unfortunately, both lost their lives. The company was fined and found guilty of breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act. Many gas manufacturers state that atmospheres under 10% oxygen can rapidly overwhelm individuals, resulting in unconsciousness without warning.

    This highlights the importance of having gas detection equipment on hand where oxygen levels are expected or have the potential to be low, ensuring the staff understand the hazards even when no hazard labels are apparent, and have appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) available.

    Flammable nature of gases

    Vapours can be more hazardous than gases especially when they arise from flammable liquids. Often, containers that hold flammable liquids continue to hold small amounts of the liquid or vapour after being emptied and should be cleaned and ventilated thoroughly before being used again. There have been several reports where people cut into steel drums that have held flammable liquids and fires erupt or, even worse, explosions occur. If there is only a small amount of liquid left in the base of a drum, why does this happen?

    All flammable liquids and gases have an explosive or flammable range – this is between the lower explosive limit (LEL) and the upper explosive limit (UEL). The minimum concentration of gas in air at which combustion could occur is the LEL. Below the LEL the mixture is too lean to burn. The maximum concentration of gas in air at which combustion could occur is the UEL. Above the UEL, the gas/air mixture is too rich to burn. The LEL and UEL of ethanol are 3.3% by volume and 19% by volume respectively, and for petrol the LEL and UEL are 1.4% by volume and 7.6% by volume respectively. The flammable range for ethanol and petrol are quite small and they require a larger ratio of air vs vapour to ignite. This is often the case with many flammable vapours, but not so much with gases. The difference between vapours and gases is that gases cannot be liquified by the application of pressure alone. Carbon monoxide (LEL 12.5% by volume and UEL 74% by volume) and acetylene (LEL 2.5% by volume and UEL 100% by volume) are both flammable and have large flammable ranges. Acetylene will ignite in almost every gas-to-air ratio, which in combination with oxygen makes it very useful in welding, but it is always sensible to understand the advice provided by the supplier to ensure safe practice can be undertaken.

    The increasing use of flammable gases including liquified petroleum gas (LPG) and compressed natural gas (CNG) means that we all need to better understand the hazards when they are being transported. Many vehicles are being converted to run on these gases and emergency services are learning to deal with these new technologies and the associated risks. For example, there have been cases where gas has filled the cabin of a vehicle due to faulty fuel tanks. The risk to the driver and passengers could be mitigated by installing a simple gas detector that would make the driver aware of the situation and enable appropriate action to be taken to deal with the gas. Unfortunately, we have recently had stark reminders of the power these flammable gases possess. For example, an LPG tanker travelling in Italy collided with a second truck that contained flammable solvents. The fire caused by the collision involving the flammable solvents started to heat the LPG tank and after around 8 minutes the LPG tank underwent a boiling liquid expanding vapour explosion (BLEVE). This BLEVE resulted in a section of the elevated motorway collapsing and significant damage to surrounding buildings. Unfortunately, two people were killed in the incident and over 130 injured, including 13 police officers.

    Other incidents involving LPG have occurred around the globe and these can often be attributed to poor knowledge of the hazards and unsafe workplace procedures. Many facilities handle these flammable gases in the correct manner without incident, but accidents happen. Understanding how to manage an incident is a critical part of working with hazardous materials. When such incidents do occur, well prepared sites with the correct equipment and well-trained staff know the correct procedures to follow. In one particular incident, a trailer park had 17 of its buildings burnt down due to an explosion at a nearby propane warehouse. Most of the staff at the warehouse had gone home and only the plant manager was left conducting an inventory when the fire started. Investigations into this case are still ongoing, but this highlights the need for emergency planning as required under the UK’s Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) or good risk management strategies such as the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) risk assessments. Please also note that when working with hazardous materials, working alone is not recommended especially when there are over 10,000 propane cylinders on site. In the UK, a site of this scale would be classified as a COMAH site (Seveso in Europe), which would legally require the operators to implement and, critically, test their emergency response and crisis management processes and policies. Even if a chemical or manufacturing site is not classified as a COMAH site, NCEC strongly advocates robust incident management guidelines and procedures are put in place and are well tested. Those nominated to lead responses to incidents should also be properly trained.

    Thankfully, most calls to NCEC are resolved in a timely manner. Our chemical experts are regularly contacted for chemical advice to help emergency services, as well as other users of chemicals during incidents including spills, fires and exposures. However, there are instances when large-scale incidents require advice for prolonged periods. In December 2005, we supported the fire and rescue service with advice during the Buncefield fire. This incident was caused by three separate automated systems failing one after another after staff had left the facility in, what they believed to be, a safe state. Buncefield was one of the main oil depots in the United Kingdom and one of the pipelines was left filling automatically, which filled a tank (number 912) at a rate of 550 cubic metres per hour.


    Set Descending Direction
    UAE Free Delivery on AED 100
    GCC Free Delivery on AED 300
    How we can assist you?
    contact us for specialist advice
    Money back guarantee!
    send within 14 days