Worker safety is an important responsibility for employers – needing to implement specific procedures to prevent injury. Some procedures are as simple as a rule prohibiting employees from walking through construction zones without goggles, vests or other personal protective equipment. This article will cover safety gear designed to be worn, such as hard hats, vision protection, hearing protection and more. Future posts in this workplace safety series will cover other types of safety equipment.
Hard hats protect from falling objects, debris and electric shock. Those in the construction industry typically require the use of hard hats and other personal protective equipment (or PPE). The suspension bands that are present in hard hats allow for a spreading of the helmet’s weight and the force of any impact over the top of the head.
Hard hats should be replaced once they show signs of damage (dents, cracks, penetration, or fatigue due to rough treatment). It is important to inspect hard hats for damage and signs of fatigue each time they are used. Aside from visual inspections, another way to test a hard hat is to grasp it in two hands and apply force by squeezing the hat. If you hear creaking or other unusual sounds, it is time to replace the hard hat.
While OSHA has no specific provision for an expiration date, manufacturers are allowed to determine if their equipment expires on a specific calendar date. A generally accepted rule is to replace the support strap yearly and to replace the hard hat every five years. Harsh chemicals and extreme temperatures can make a hard hat degrade more quickly. Be sure to check with the manufacturer for guidelines on hard hat replacement and maintenance.
A hard hat may also expire if OSHA adopts more rigorous requirements. It is essential to regularly check OSHA standards for changes that may require your PPE to be updated.
Construction sites, factories and office parks are all examples of workplaces where employees and patrons can be susceptible to eye injury, which is why it is important to prepare and prevent any such accident with safety glasses. In fact, an estimated 90% of workplace injuries could be avoided with the proper use of safety eyewear.
Safety goggles and safety glasses provide an effective way to protect eyes against any workplace eye injury. For instance, in a construction site, workers may experience dust, particles and tools that could pose as risks causing potential eye injuries.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to make sure their workers have proper eye protection. Most workplace eye injuries are preventable, which is why it is imperative that employers invest in eye protection equipment for their workers.
Another issue that is common in the construction industry is the possibility for loss of hearing. Loud noise is frequent, and like the eyes, the ears need to be protected as well. Drills, power tools, machines, trucks and heavy equipment are just some of the many things found at any given construction site that can cause damage to hearing, and that is why there are many options for ear protection.
Loud noise can cause permanent damage to hearing or hearing loss. Hearing aids, as well as surgery may not be able to correct hearing loss, which is why it is essential to provide preventative hearing loss equipment. Loud noises can also reduce productivity in addition to contributing to workplace accidents, since loud noises make it difficult to hear others communicating, leading to social isolation.
There are several options to combat hearing loss readily available – from ear plugs to hearing protectors. Damage can occur within the ear at noise levels similar to a lawn mower for eight hours. At first it can cause a temporary hearing loss, lasting for up to 14 hours. Repeated exposure to high noise levels can be common at construction sites, which means that hearing may not recover fully.
Safety gloves are another important piece of personal protective equipment. In many instances, construction sites might deal with sharp edges, dangerous chemicals, dust or flying sparks. Because there are different types of gloves for hand protection, there are many factors to be considered when deciding on a type of glove, for instance:
- The type of chemicals handled
- Grip requirements
- Size and Comfort of Glove
- Abrasion resistance of Glove
After the appropriate type of glove is selected for the intended job application, the gloves should be inspected for any tear or puncture before each use. Gloves can be tested for cuts or holes by simply filling them with water and checking for leaks. Any gloves that are discolored may also need review, as they may be the result of overexposure to chemicals – in which case, the gloves would need to be discarded and replaced.
The last important piece of personal safety protection covered in this article includes reflective vests or shirts. Reflective vests provide increased visibility of workers, enabling drivers or other employees to see them in low light conditions, ultimately decreasing the chance for injury. One of the primary reasons this is an effective deterrent for workplace injury is that it is especially useful for darker environments – which can range from working indoors during power outages or outside at night – and now that fall is inching closer, the sun will be setting earlier, which means less daylight hours. Reflective safety vests should be visible from a good distance. These vests primarily help prevent collisions or vehicular-related injury.
Safety is a concern for all employers, and there are several things that can be done to prevent injuries or workplace accidents. Many accidents can be prevented with the right type of PPE. Find the right safety equipment or contact Steiner at 1-800-STEINER (783-4637) for more information.