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Course 709 - Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

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Head, Hand and Foot Protection

Head Protection

There are primarily two situations when employees must wear protective helmets.

1. Falling objects

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:

  • working below other workers who are using tools and materials which could fall;
  • working around or under conveyor belts which are carrying parts or materials; and
  • working below machinery or processes which might cause material or objects to fall.

Some examples of occupations for which head protection should be routinely considered are:

  • carpenters
  • electricians
  • linemen
  • mechanics and repairers
  • plumbers and pipe fitters
  • assemblers
  • packers
  • wrappers
  • sawyers
  • welders
  • laborers
  • freight handlers
  • timber cutting and logging
  • stock handlers
  • warehouse laborers
  •  

    2. Electrical hazards

    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.

    Criteria for Protective Helmets

    Protective helmets purchased after July 5, 1994 must comply with ANSI Z89.1-1986, ANSI Z89.1-1997, or ANSI Z89.1-2003 (before July 5, 1994 - Z89.1-196) 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.

    Selection Guidelines for Head Protection

    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.

    trench
    Type I helmet.

    Impact Type Helmets

    • Type I: A helmet of Type I is designed to provide protection only to the top of the head. It is not intended to provide impact from side impacts. (This is by far the most commonly used type of hard hat in use.)

    • Type II: A helmet of Type II is designed to provide protection against both top and side impacts.

    Electrical Classes

    hardhat1
    The typical helmet in construction.
    • Class G (General): Class G helmets are intended to reduce the danger of contact exposure to low voltage conductors. Test samples are prooftested at 2200 volts (phase to ground). However, this voltage is not intended as an indication of the voltage at which the helmet protects the wearer.
    • Class E (Electrical): Class E helmets are intended to reduce the danger of exposure to high voltage conductors. Test samples are proof-tested at 20,000 volts (phase to ground). However, this voltage is not intended as an indication of the voltage at which the helmet protects the wearer.
    • Class C (Conductive): Class C helmets are not intended to provide protection against contact with electrical conductors.

    Bump Caps

    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.

    What the Rule Says About Head Protection

    In 1997 ANSI revised the standard for Industrial Head Protection, ANSI Z89.1-1997. The following facts highlight significant points and changes to the new head protection requirements that are found in the standard and should be considered while evaluating appropriate head protection when conducting a personal protective equipment assessment.

    OSHA's PPE standard (1910.135) specifies that helmets must meet requirements established by ANSI Z89.1-1986. The new ANSI Z89.1997 standard contains additional criteria for helmets. The new requirements are entirely voluntary until 1910.135 is changed to reflect the later standard.

    Helmets that are designed and manufactured to the new standard are acceptable for use. The new ANSI Z89.1-1997 establishes guidelines for two different levels of impact protection:

    • Type 1 is intended to reduce the force of impact resulting from a blow to the top of the head.
    • Type 2 is intended to reduce the force of impact resulting from a blow which may be received off center or to the top of the head.

    Workers in some occupations who are exposed to falling objects which may hit the helmet off center or on the side may be inadequately protected and at risk of injury since the type 1 hard hat is not designed to take this angle of impact.

    Periodic examinations should be made of all protective helmets and, and in particular, those worn or stored in areas exposed to sunlight for long periods. Ultraviolet degradation may first manifest itself in a loss of surface gloss, called chalking or discoloration. Upon further degradation, the surface will craze or flake away, or both. At the first appearance of any of these phenomena, the shell should be replaced.

    Check out this short audio clip by Dan Clark of the theSafetyBrief.com. Hard hat selection and care is critical to safety. It’s your brain. Keep it in a good bucket. Hear about the Types and Classes of safety helmets in this podcast. Dan Clark describes Type I and Type II hard hats, and how they are designed for impacts from the top and side.

    Hazards Requiring Hand Protection

    ppe5
    Make sure safety gloves are the correct type for the specific substance.

    Most companies use some type of chemicals in their workplaces. Some of these chemicals are hazardous and require PPE to protect employees against toxic effects. More than any other part of the body, our hands are most likely to come in contact with these hazardous chemicals. Employees may be exposed to the chemical hazards listed below:

    • Absorption of harmful substances
    • Chemical burns
    • Rashes

    But, hazardous chemicals are not the only worry. Employees may also be exposed to other hazards that could injure their hands.

    These hazards include:

    ppe5
    Would these gloves protect against an acid?
    • cuts or lacerations;
    • abrasions;
    • punctures;
    • thermal burns; and
    • harmful temperature extremes.

    Consequently, it's crucial that employers select and require employees to use appropriate hand protection when exposed to any of these hazards.

    Selection of Hand Protection

    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:

    • specific task(s) being performed;
    • environmental conditions present;
    • duration of hand protection use while performing the task;
    • the actual hazards; and
    • potential hazards.

    The work activities of the employee should also be studied to determine:

    • the degree of dexterity required;
    • the duration of the task;
    • the frequency of the task;
    • degree of exposure of the hazard; and
    • the physical stresses that will be applied.

    OSHA is unaware of any gloves that provide protection against all potential hand hazards. Commonly available glove materials provide only limited protection against many chemicals. Therefore, it is important to select the most appropriate glove for a particular application as well as to determine how long it can be worn and whether it can be reused.

    Chemicals will eventually soak through or "permeate" most glove materials rendering them unsafe. Gloves can be used safely for limited time periods if specific use and other characteristics (i.e., thickness, permeation rate and time) are known. Your PPE supplier can be an excellent expert source to assist in determining the specific type of glove material that should be worn for a particular chemical.

    These performance characteristics should be assessed by using standard test procedures. Before purchasing gloves, the employer should request documentation from the manufacturer that the gloves meet the appropriate test standard(s) for the hazard(s) anticipated.

    Read instructions and warnings on chemical container labels and SDSs before working with any chemical. Recommended glove types are often listed in the section for personal protective equipment. However, it's important to check with your PPE supplier to make sure the list is current and accurate.

    One more consideration is that as long as the performance characteristics are acceptable, in certain circumstances, it may be more cost effective to regularly replace less expensive gloves than to reuse more expensive types.

    ppe18
    Some jobs required head-to-toe PPE.

    Selection of Hand Protection (Continued)

    When selecting gloves for protection against chemical hazards, consider the following:

    • the toxic properties of the chemical(s) must be determined; in particular, the ability of the chemical to cause local effects on the skin and/or to pass through the skin and cause systemic effects;
    • generally, any "chemical resistant" glove can be used for dry powders;
    • for mixtures and formulated products (unless specific test data are available), a glove should be selected on the basis of the chemical component with the shortest breakthrough time, since it is possible for solvents to carry active ingredients through polymeric materials; and
    • employees must be able to remove the gloves in such a manner as to prevent skin contamination.

    Skin contact is a potential source of exposure to toxic materials; it is important that the proper steps be taken to prevent such contact. Most accidents involving hands and arms can be classified under four main hazard categories: chemicals, abrasions, cutting, and heat. There are gloves available that can protect workers from any of these individual hazards or any combination thereof.

    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.

    ppe10
    Should this worker be wearing gloves?

    Hand Protection When Working With Tools

    Careful attention must be given to protecting your hands when working with tools and machinery. Power tools and machinery must have guards installed or incorporated into their design that prevent the hands from contacting the point of operation, power train, or other moving parts. To protect hands from injury due to contact with moving parts, it is important to:

    • ensure that guards are always in place and used;
    • always lock-out machines or tools and disconnect the power before making repairs;
    • treat a machine without a guard as inoperative; and
    • do not wear gloves around moving machinery or parts, such as drill presses, mills, lathes, and grinders.

    Check out this short audio clip by Dan Clark of the theSafetyBrief.com. Safety gloves and skin protection can help fingers last a lifetime. Hear about many types of work gloves and how to treat your hands in this podcast.

    Glove Guide

    Below is a guide to the most common types of protective work gloves and the types of hazards they can guard against:

    1. Disposable Gloves: Disposable gloves, usually made of light-weight plastic, can help guard against mild irritants.
    2. Fabric Gloves: These gloves are made of cotton or fabric blends. They're generally used to improve grip when handling slippery objects. They also help insulate hands from mild heat or cold.
    3. Leather Gloves: These gloves are used to guard against injuries from sparks or scraping against rough surfaces. They are also used in combination with an insulated liner when working with electricity.
    4. Metal Mesh Gloves: These gloves are used to protect hands from accidental cuts and scratches. They are used most commonly by persons working with cutting tools or other sharp instruments.
    5. Aluminized Gloves: These gloves made of aluminized fabric are designed to insulate hands from intense heat. These gloves are most commonly used by persons working molten materials.
    6. Chemical Resistance Gloves: These gloves may be made of rubber, neoprene, polyvinyl alcohol or vinyl, etc. The gloves protect hands from corrosives, oils, and solvents. The glove chart on the next page may serve as a guide to the different types of glove materials and the chemicals they can be used against. When selecting chemical resistance gloves, be sure to consult the manufacturer's recommendations, especially if the gloved hand will be immersed in the chemical.

    Glove Chart

    Type Advantages Disadvantages Use 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 NA 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

    Foot Protection

    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:

    • falling or rolling objects;
    • objects piercing the sole; and/or
    • where feet are exposed to electrical hazards.

    Criteria for Protective Footwear

    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.

    boots
    Protection from above and below.

    Steel-Reinforced Safety Shoes

    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

    Safety boots offer more protection when splash or spark hazards (chemicals, molten materials) are present.

    • When working with corrosives, caustics, cutting oils, and petroleum products, neoprene or nitrile boots are often required to prevent penetration.
    • Foundry or "Gaiter" style boots feature quick-release fasteners or elasticized insets to allow speedy removal should any hazardous substances get into the boot itself.
    • When working with electricity, special electrical hazard boots are available and are designed with no conductive materials other than the steel toe (which is properly insulated).

    Selection Guidelines for Foot Protection

    Safety shoes and boots which meet the ANSI Z41-1991, ANSI Z41-1999, or ASTM F-2413-2005 Standard provide both impact and compression protection.

    Safety shoes or boots with impact protection would be required for carrying or handling materials such as packages, objects, parts or heavy tools, which could be dropped; and, for other activities where objects might fall onto the feet.

    Safety shoes or boots with compression protection would be required for work activities involving skid trucks (manual material handling carts) around bulk rolls (such as paper rolls) and around heavy pipes, all of which could potentially roll over an employee's feet.

    Safety shoes or boots with puncture protection would be required where sharp objects such as nails, wire, tacks, screws, large staples, scrap metal etc., could be stepped on by employees causing a foot injury.

    Last Words

    There are many types and styles of protective head, hand and foot gear. It's important to realize that a particular job may require additional protection other than listed here. Well, it's time once again for the review quiz, so let's get to it!

    Instructions

    Before beginning this quiz, we highly recommend you review the module material. This quiz is designed to allow you to self-check your comprehension of the module content, but only focuses on key concepts and ideas.

    Read each question carefully. Select the best answer, even if more than one answer seems possible. When done, click on the "Get Quiz Answers" button. If you do not answer all the questions, you will receive an error message.

    Good luck!

    1. Head protection is required only when hazards from falling objects are present.

    2. Which classification of helmet should not be used around electrical conductors?

    3. When selecting hand protection, all of the following are important work activities to consider except _____.

    4. The _____ rate measures the speed with which a given chemical breaks through the layer(s) of the glove to contact the skin.

    5. Safety shoes or boots with compression protection are required for work where sharp objects such as nails, wire, tacks, screws, large staples, scrap metal etc., could be stepped on by employees causing a foot injury.


    Have a great day!

    Important! You will receive an "error" message unless all questions are answered.