PPE

July 3, 2020 in Cal/OSHA, COVID-19, Hazard, Injury, OSHA, Personal Protection Equipment, Safety, Welding

There is hardly anyone in the United States and around the world who has not heard of the acronym PPE. PPE is short for Personal Protection Equipment. 

In the age of COVID-19 we all know the importance of face covering, or masks and face shields. We are also encourage to use gloves, hand sanitizers, along with regular hand washing.

The shortage of PPE was a common news headline at the beginning of this pandemic especially affecting first responders and health workers. Thankfully the shortages lessen as production of these items ramped up in every corner of the globe.

When this pandemic is finally behind us the masks and gloves may not be our first day to day priority but PPE’s will continue to make a difference between life and death for many occupations and such as construction, commercial, and industrial industries.

Safety and PPE are synonymous. One does not exist without the other. Head, hand, eye and foot protection are the basic four criteria for protecting the construction worker and others in industries where physical injury is a concern.

Personal protective clothing and equipment are to be designed with safety in mind.  They are to consider the work to be performed and must be kept maintained in good condition, sanitary, and without defects. PPE must meet NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and/or ANSI (American National Standards Institute) standards. Those recommended standards have been incorporated by statute into the OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) rules and regulations.

As of the date of this writing we see some of the four basic PPE regulations:

A)   Eye and Face Protection – ANSI Z87.1-1989 – Our faces have some of the most delicate parts of our body, especially the eyes. A nose can be repaired, teeth can be replaced with implants but currently medicine does not have the technology to give our site back once it is lost.

Eye and face protection must be suitable for the type of work being done. There are four basic eye and face protection gear as follows:

  • Single Lens Goggles – Vinyl framed goggles of soft pliable body are designed to provide adequate eye protection from a variety of hazards. The goggles are generally averrable with clear or tinted lenses, perforated, port vented, or non-vented frames.  Single lens goggles proved similar protection to spectacles and may be worn in combination with spectacles or corrective lenses.
  • Welders/Chippers Goggles – They are available in rigid and soft frames to accommodate single or two eyepiece lenses. Welders goggles provide protection from sparking, scaling, or splashing metals and harmful light rays. Lenses are impact resistant and are averrable in graduated shades of filtration. Chippers/Grinders goggles provide eye protection from flying particles. The dual protective eye cups house impact resistant clear lenses with individual cover plats.
  • Face Shields – Generally face shields consist of an adjustable headgear and face shield of clear or tinted acetate or polycarbonate materials, or wire screen. They are can be ordered in various sizes, tensile strength, impact and heat resistance and light ray filtering capability. Face shields will be used in operation when the entire face needs protection and should be worn to protect the entire face against flying particles, metal sparks, and chemical/biological splash.  It is important to note that the type of face shield currently seen on television, internet advertisers, and other media for COVID-19 face protection should not be used for any other purpose. Meaning, they are not designed for protection from flying particles generated by construction, commercial, and industrial operations.
  • Welding Shields – The welding shield is generally manufactured from vulcanized fiber or glass finer body, a ratchet/button type adjustable headgear or cap attachment and a filter and cover plate holder. The shield is designed to protect the welder’s eyes and face from infrared or radiant light burns, flying sparks, metal spatter and slag chips which are byproducts of welding, brazing, soldering, resistance welding, bare or shielded electrical arc welding and oxyacetylene welding and cutting.

Many of the eye protection equipment can be designed with corrective lenses built in. However, keep in mind that it is generally less expensive to replace a damage goggle or shield with standard lenses versus ones that require a doctor’s prescription.

B)  Head Protection – ANSI Z89.1-1986 – The basic principal of head protection is to reduce the possibility of an injury due to falling, or flying objects, and bumping the head against a fixed or moving object. The head protection, often referred to as the hard hat, need to be designed such as the shell of the protective hat is hard enough to resist the blow and the headband and crown straps keep the shell away from the wearer’s skull. Such hats when property chosen can also protect against electrical shock. 

There are five basic categories of head protection as follows:

      • Type I hard hats are intended to reduce the force of impact resulting form a blow only to the top of the head
      • Type II hard hats are intended to reduce the force of lateral impact resulting from a blow which may be received off-center, from the side, or to the top of the head.
      • Class E (Electrical) hard hats are designed to reduce exposure to high voltage conductors and offer dielectric protection up to 20,000 volts (phase to ground). This is for head protection only
      • Class G (General) hard hats are designed to reduce exposure to low voltage conductors and offer dielectric protection up to 2,200 volts (phase to ground). This is for head protection only
      • Class C (Conductive) hard hats differ from their counterparts in that they are not intended to provide protection against contact with electrical conductors and may include vented options.

C)  Foot Protection – ANSI Z41.1-1991- Safety shoes are to be worn in the shops, warehouses, maintenance, cage wash, glassware, and construction sites. Safety shoes or boots with impact protection are required to be worn in work areas where carrying or handling materials such as packages, objects, parts or heavy tools, which could be dropped. Also, for other activities where objects might fall onto the feet. They are also to be worn where skid trucks, manual or power pallet jacks or other such material handling equipment where such equipment has a potential of rolling over the operator’s feet.  They also protect against penetration of the shoe or boot sole from penetrations by sharp objects.

D)  Hand Protection: There are no current ANSI standards for gloves, however, selection must be based on the performance characteristics of the glove in relation to the tasks to be performed such as:

    • Natural Rubber – Used against alcohol, dilute water solutions and fair against aldehydes and ketones.  Disadvantages: Poor vs. oils, greases, organics. If imported may be of poor quality.
    • Natural Rubber Blends –  Used against same as Rubber. Disadvantages: Physical properties frequently inferior to natural rubber.
    • Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) – Used against Strong acids and bases, salts, other water solutions, and alcohol. Disadvantages: Plasticizers can be stripped.  If imported may be of poor quality.
    • Neoprene – Used against Oxidizing acids, anilines, phenol, glycol ethers.
    • Nitrile – Used against Oils, greases, aliphatic chemicals, xylene, perchloroethane. Fair against toluene. Disadvantages: Poor vs. benzene, methylene chloride, trichloroethylene, and many ketones.
    • Butyl –  Used against Glycol ethers, ketones, and esters. Disadvantages: Expensive and poor vas hydrocarbons, and chlorinated solvents.
    • Polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) – Used against Aliphatics, aromatics, chlorinated solvents, ketones (except acetone), esters, and ethers. Disadvantages: Very expensive, water sensitive, poor against light alcohols.
    • Fluro-elasomer (Viton)™ (Trademark of DuPont Dow Elastomers) – Used against Hazmat work and has excellent chemical resistance. Disadvantages: Poor fit, easily punctures, poor grip, and stiff.

As can be seen above glove selection can be somewhat complex. There are 97 common chemicals that are generally used in various construction, commercial, and industrial settings. In addition, there are a variety of other industries such a medical and cosmetics which have their own unique hazards to consider when choosing hand protections.

The above discussed items are only the basic four and there are certainly more PPE’s to consider such as fall protection when discussing specific operations.

Humans are delicate forms of nature. We have sensitive skin, eyes, face, arms, legs, feet, and body. Personal protective equipment does not guarantee that all injuries can be eliminated but we can reduce the risk of an injury and death by using these widely available basic protective equipment.   

Safety Work Zone Protection

June 8, 2020 in Hazard, Injury, OSHA, Roadway, Safety, Signs

Safety Work Zone “Struck-by” Protection

We see them every day as we travel the roads and highways of our cities, counties, and interstate highways – “Slow Down Men At Work” signs.  Politically incorrect, as there are many women also working on highway projects, but the message is clear, construction work is ahead. You, the driver, need to pay attention and approach with caution.

According to her online article recently published by the Asphalt Contractor Magazine dated, June 3, 2020, Jessica Lombardo states “Work zone crashes are on the rise in 2020, causing worker injuries and deaths.”  It should not be a surprise to anyone that these incidents are increasingly more frequent.  With the advent of the smartphones capability to transmit text messaging and emails, there are many more distractions to drivers than before when we only had the flip phone capable of only calling and receiving calls or before that with only car radios, conversations with passengers, and remarkable sightings along the road.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 2013 Traffic Safety Culture Index, noted that “83 percent of motorists rated texting while driving and 58 percent rated cell phone use very serious threats to their safety, yet many admitted performing these distracting behaviors while driving within the previous month.  Further, 88 percent of respondents said that distracted drivers were somewhat or a much bigger problem today than they were just three years ago.”  Additionally, the Foundation’s analysis of data from a 2006 study conducted by Virginia Tech’s Transportation Institute revealed that “taking your eyes off the road for more than two seconds doubles your risk of a crash.”

Construction safety is not limited to the job site alone. There are various external sources that can alter the construction site’s working environment leading to dangerous conditions. Such external sources include air pollution, utility malfunctions, and distracted drivers.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics from 2003-20017 1,844 workers lost their lives at road construction sites. Over that 15 year period, the State of Texas ranked #1 with 218 killed, #2 Florida with 132 deaths, #3 Pennsylvania with 91 casualties, #4 Illinois with 83, #5 California with 76, and #6 Tennessee with 70 killed.

So from a safety engineering perspective what are the solutions to safeguard roadway workers?  The exact data is not available but many workers prefer to have peace officers on-site during construction operations.  The blue and red light bars on top of police or highway patrol cars certainly cause drivers to pay attention and perhaps even slow down.  In some states such as in California, you may see Highway Patrol cruisers follow the cleaning crews as they clean the roadways and emergency lanes. However, having such peace officer presence is not practical or economical at all roadway construction sites, especially those that extend for weeks, months, and even years.

A myriad of safety devices have been developed and are deployed, often in combination, to safeguard roadway construction sites and personnel including K rails, traffic cones, traffic delineators, electronic signboards, barricades, trucks with collision absorption tailgates, collision absorption barrels, and others such devices. Roadway construction workers rely upon those devices to protect and alert others to the worksite but they are not always enough.

Dangerous behavior including the distracted driver, the driver under the influence, the driver whose visibility is reduced due to environmental conditions, the new driver who lacks driving experience, the driver who has lost control over his/her vehicle is, and likely will always be, the main cause of

struck-by” hazards and injuries to roadway construction workers. Can more robust safety mechanisms be put in place? The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) published document No. 2001-128 titled “Building Safer Highway Work Zones: Measures to Prevent Worker Injuries From Vehicles and Equipment.” In this article DHHS (NIOSH) lays out 15 categories to consider for injury prevention measures including work zone layout, use of temporary traffic control devices, motorist education and speed enforcement, flaggers, high-visibility apparel, illumination of the work zone, developing internal traffic control plans, implementing internal traffic control plans, accountability and coordination at the worksite, equipment operation and maintenance, safe equipment operation around workers on foot, training and certification, changes in the contracting process, laboratory and field research needs, and data and record keeping.

Most importantly, as with any construction-related safety procedure, safety engineering preparation for all road construction worksites must include consideration of the particular and peculiar features of each site and each construction project. Safety procedures are not uniform except for the twin needs to follow them once the procedures are known and to continue to look for better ways to reduce the high risks of roadway construction.

Machine Guarding

January 3, 2020 in Hazard, Injury, Machine Guarding, OSHA, Safety

Industrial and manufacturing plants and assemblies are closely associated with machine guarding as an element for protection of workers and those around them.

Machine guarding is one of the essential elements that concerns industrial and manufacturing plants. Machines that fall into the category of guillotine cutters, shears, alligator shears, power presses, milling machines, power saws, jointers, forming rolls and calendars, and various portable power tools are just some of the basic machines that require guarding. 

In California Cal-OSHA machine guarding requirements are found under Subchapter 7. General Industry Safety Orders, Group 8. Points of Operation and Other Hazardous Parts of Machinery 

Article 54. Scope and General Definitions, Section 4184 which states the following:

(a) Machines as specifically covered hereafter in Group 8, having a grinding, shearing, punching, pressing, squeezing, drawing, cutting, rolling, mixing or similar action, in which an employee comes within the danger zone shall be guarded at the point of operation in one or a combination of the ways specified in the following orders, or by other means or methods which will provide equivalent protection for the employee.

(b) All machines or parts of machines, used in any industry or type of work not specifically covered in Group 8, which present similar hazards as the machines covered under these point of operation orders, shall be guarded at their point of operation as required by the regulations contained in Group 8.

Exception: Microtomes (also called histotomes or cryostats) when guarding as required in Section 4184 is infeasible and the microtome is used, operated and maintained in accordance with Section 3558 of these Orders. For the purposes of this Exception guarding as required in Section 4184 is infeasible under circumstances that include, but are not limited to the following: there is no point-of-operation guard commercially available for an employer’s microtome.

Note: Authority cited: Section 142.3, Labor Code. Reference: Section 142.3, Labor Code.

Similar language is found in the United States Department of Labor Occupational Safety & Health Administration guidelines for machine guarding Section 1910.212(a)(1):

Types of guarding. One or more methods of machine guarding shall be provided to protect the operator and other employees in the machine area from hazards such as those created by point of operation, ingoing nip points, rotating parts, flying chips and sparks. Examples of guarding methods are-barrier guards, two-hand tripping devices, electronic safety devices, etc.

It is important to note that machine guarding alone is not sufficient when maintaining any equipment.  Proper Lockout, Tag-out, or Block-out protocol must be followed.  A July 2019 publication by Cal-OSHA noted the following:

Failure to lockout, tag-out, and block-out (LOTO) machinery before working on it is a major cause of serious injuries and deaths. Workers can be electrocuted, suffer severe crushing injuries, and lose fingers, hands, and arms because machinery is inadvertently turned on while it is being cleaned, repaired, serviced, set-up, adjusted, or unjammed.

(For more information see Cal-OSHA Subchapter 7. General Industry Safety Orders, Group 2. Safe Practices and Personal Protection, Article 7. Miscellaneous Safe Practices Lockout / Tag-out / Block-out, Section 3314)

The author started to work with heavy machinery dating back to the early 1970’s.  The nearly 50 years of hands on experience, numerous installations, and scores of investigations, in addition to certifications and licenses, has provided the type of experience that allows the author to provide expert opinions regarding machine guarding and other industrial safety topic. 

Walkway Safety Certification

September 16, 2019 in ASTM, ASTM F2948-13, Bio-mechanical, certified auditor, Certified walkway expert, Hazard, Safety

On September 12, 2019 The University of North Texas, Department of Engineering Technology, awarded our Senior Expert, Gidon R. Vardi, Ph.D, the certificate of completion in Walkway Safety Certification.

Among others, the certificate acknowledges that Dr. Vardi has completed a course in walkway safety which includes meeting the qualification requirements of ASTM International Guide F2948-13 for walkway auditor, meeting the requirement to be considered a “qualified person” by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). 

Certification provided training in how to interpret and use tribometer readings to evaluate walkway safety, identify, suggest remediation for, and offer resolution for slip, slides and fall hazards on walkways, apply the principles of walkway safety, slip prevention, and risk assessment to comprehensive walkway safety management programs. Training includes background in bio-mechanical human gait cycle and gait mechanics.