There are primarily two situations when employees must wear protective helmets.
When there is a potential in the workplace for injury to the head from falling objects, the employer must make sure that each affected employee wears a protective helmet.
Some examples of work that might require helmets to protect from falling objects include:
Some examples of occupations for which head protection should be routinely considered are:
The second situation requiring a helmet is to protect the worker from electrical hazards. Whenever an employee works near exposed electrical conductors which could contact the head, the employer must make sure that a protective helmet designed to reduce electrical shock hazard is worn by the employee.
The employer should also furnish and make sure all employees and contractors engaged in construction and other miscellaneous work use proper head protection. Engineers, inspectors, and visitors at construction sites must also wear protective helmets when hazards from falling or fixed objects, or electrical shock are present.
Protective helmets with OSHA 1910.135, Head Protection, which states that helmets purchased after July 5, 1994, must comply with ANSI Z89.1 or must be demonstrated by the employer to be equally effective. Purchasing helmets that meet these standards ensures that appropriate testing has been conducted and that the quality of the materials (webbing and shell) is adequate.
When selecting head protection, knowledge of potential for falling objects and electrical hazards is important. When it's determined that these hazards exist, choose the most appropriate helmet from the categories listed below.
Bump caps/skull guards should be issued and worn for protection against scalp lacerations from contact with sharp objects. However, it's very important to understand that they must not be worn as substitutes for safety caps/hats because they do not provide protection from impact forces or penetration by falling objects.
It's important that employers select and require employees to use appropriate hand protection when exposed to any of the hazards listed below:
Below is a guide to the most common types of protective work gloves and the types of hazards they can guard against:
It's important that employers work closely with their PPE supplier to select appropriate hand protection based on an evaluation of the performance characteristics of the hand protection. The employer needs to look at each of the following:
The work activities of the employee should also be studied to determine:
Gloves should be replaced periodically, depending on frequency of use and permeability to the substance(s) handled. Gloves overtly contaminated should be rinsed and then carefully removed after use. With this in mind, there are two important characteristics of gloves to consider.
Permeation rate: The permeation rate measures the length of time it takes a given material (glove) to become saturated by the chemical through absorption.
Breakthrough or Penetration rate: The penetration rate measures the speed with which a given chemical breaks through the layer(s) of the glove to contact the skin.
Gloves should also be worn whenever it is necessary to handle rough or sharp-edged objects, and very hot or very cold materials. The type of glove material to be used in these situations includes leather, welder's gloves, aluminum-backed gloves, and other types of insulated glove materials.
You can use this chart to help select the proper gloves for the job may serve as a guide to the different types of glove materials and the chemicals they can be used against.
|Natural rubber||Low cost, good physical properties, dexterity||Poor vs. oils, greases, organics. Frequently imported; may be poor quality||Bases, alcohols, dilute water solutions; fair vs. aldehydes, ketones.|
|Natural rubber blends||Low cost, dexterity, better chemical resistance than natural rubber vs. some chemicals||Physical properties frequently inferior to natural rubber||Same as natural rubber|
|Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)||Low cost, very good physical properties, medium cost, medium chemical resistance||Plasticizers can be stripped; frequently imported; may be poor quality||Strong acids and bases, salts, other water solutions, alcohols|
|Neoprene||Medium cost, medium chemical resistance, medium physical properties||N/A||Oxidizing acids, anilines, phenol, glycol ethers|
|Nitrile||Low cost, excellent physical properties, dexterity||Poor vs. benzene, methylene chloride, trichloroethylene, many ketones||Oils, greases, aliphatic chemicals, xylene, perchloroethylene, trichloroethane; fair vs. toluene|
|Butyl||Specialty glove, polar organics||Expensive, poor vs. hydrocarbons, chlorinated solvents||Glycol ethers, ketones, esters|
|Polyvinyl alcohol (PVA)||Specialty glove, resists a very broad range of organics, good physical properties||Very expensive, water sensitive, poor vs. light alcohols||Aliphatics, aromatics, chlorinated solvents, ketones (except acetone), esters, ethers|
|Fluoro- elastomer (Viton)||Specialty glove, organic solvents||Extremely expensive, poor physical properties, poor vs. some ketones, esters, amines||Aromatics, chlorinated solvents, also aliphatics and alcohols|
|Norfoil (Silver Shield)||Excellent chemical resistance||Poor fit, easily punctures, poor grip, stiff||Use for Hazmat work|
The employer must make sure that each affected employee uses protective footwear when working in areas where there is a danger of foot injuries due to:
Protective footwear purchased after July 5, 1994 must comply with ANSI Z41-1991, ANSI Z41-1999, or ASTM F-2413-2005, "Standard Specification for Performance Requirements for Protective Footwear" (before July 5, 1994 - ANSI Z41.1-1967) or must be demonstrated by the employer to be equally effective.
Footwear that meets established safety standards will have an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) label inside each shoe.
These shoes are designed to protect feet from common machinery hazards such as falling or rolling objects, cuts, and punctures. The entire toe box and insole are reinforced with steel, and the instep is protected by steel, aluminum, or plastic materials. Safety shoes are also designed to insulate against temperature extremes and may be equipped with special soles to guard against slips, chemicals, and/or electrical hazards.
Safety boots offer more protection when splash or spark hazards (chemicals, molten materials) are present.
To prevent injury from exposure to electrical conductors, it's important that all electrical protective equipment be maintained in a safe and reliable condition. Electrical protective equipment includes the following:
All electrical protective equipment made of rubber should meet the established safety standards and specifications discussed below.
To make sure electrical protective equipment actually performs as designed, it must be inspected for damage before each day's use and immediately following any incident that can reasonably be suspected of having caused damage. Insulating gloves must be given an air test, along with the inspection.
Insulating equipment must not be used if any of the following defects are detected:
Note: For more on this topic, see Course 715 Electrical Safety Basics.
Protector gloves must be worn over insulating gloves. An exception is when using Class 0 gloves, under limited-use conditions, where small equipment and parts manipulation necessitate unusually high finger dexterity. But, it's important to note that extra care must be taken while visually examining the glove. Also, make sure to avoid handling sharp objects.
Any other class of glove may be used for similar work without protector gloves if the employer can demonstrate that the possibility of physical damage to the gloves is small and if the class of glove is one class higher than that required for the voltage involved. Insulating gloves that have been used without protector gloves may not be used at a higher voltage until they have been tested.
Electrical protective equipment must be subjected to periodic electrical tests. Maximum intervals between tests must be in accordance with table below.
|Type of Equipment||When to Test|
|Rubber insulating line hose||Upon indication that insulating value is suspect and after repair.|
|Rubber insulating covers||Upon indication that insulating value is suspect and after repair.|
|Rubber insulating blankets||Before first issue and every 12 months thereafter1 upon indication that insulating value is suspect; and after repair.|
|Rubber insulating gloves||Before first issue and every 6 months thereafter1 upon indication that insulating value is suspect; after repair; and after use without protectors.|
|Rubber insulating sleeves||Before first issue and every 12 months thereafter1 upon indication that insulating value is suspect; and after repair.|
1 If the insulating equipment has been electrically tested but not issued for service, the insulating equipment may not be placed into service unless it has been electrically tested within the previous 12 months.
Noise-induced hearing loss is the term for hearing damaged by exposure to excessive noise. The damage to hearing caused by excessive noise at work may not be apparent for years. Hearing loss can't be treated or cured, but it can be prevented.
Sound is what you hear. Our sensation of very small, rapid changes in air pressure.
Noise is any sound that you don't want to hear.
Sound is measured in two ways: decibels and frequency.
Decibels indicate the pressure of sound. Sound waves transfer that pressure from place to place and are expressed in units on a logarithmic scale.
Frequency is related to a sound's pitch and is measured in units called hertz (Hz), or cycles per second. The pitch of a sound - how high or low it seems - is how you perceive its frequency.
Human hearing is most sensitive to frequencies between 3,000-4,000 Hz. That's why people with damaged hearing have difficulty understanding higher-pitched voices and other sounds in the 3,000-4,000 Hz range.
Your workplace must have a hearing conservation program if employees are exposed to noise levels that are equal to or greater than 85 dBA average over an eight-hour period (called the 8-Hour Time Weighted Average). This is called the "Action Level." Check out course 751 Hearing Conservation Program Management for more in-depth information regarding hearing conservation.
As you are probably well aware, there are basically four types of hearing protectors.
Molded earplugs are usually made of plastic or silicone rubber. They are available in a variety of shapes and sizes and are usually characterized by one or more ribs or contours. They are considered multiple use; therefore, they must be cleaned and properly stored after each use.
Custom-molded earplugs are generally made of plastic and are designed from a molded wax insert of the wearer's ears. They are considered multiple use but cannot be switched ear to ear.
Self-molded earplugs are generally made of mineral down or plastic foam and are molded or formed by the wearer. Generally one size fits all and they may be either single or multiple use.
Earmuffs are designed to be multiple use and may be designed to be worn with the harness over or behind the head, or below the chin. They are generally more comfortable, but usually provide less noise reduction, thus less protection, than ear plugs.
Click here to see how to insert earplugs!
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You have the right to work in a safe environment. Watch this Montana State Fund video and learn about the benefits and use of personal protective equipment.