Need to Know PPE Basics

The ABC’s of PPE

You see it everyday when passing by construction sites. Construction workers fully garbed with hard hats, safety goggles and high visibility vests and many other safety supplies. Thanks to OSHA, these and other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) products are forever a part of their workday. Office workers on the other hand, can potentially overlook the need for proper PPE. However, it falls on a company to ensure a safe working environment. Medical expenses and fines from work injuries almost always outweigh implementation and training costs to prevent them. While you may never see someone wearing fire retardant clothing in an office, it helps to be fully aware of what's available to you as a facility manager when it comes to keeping your team productive and injury free.

PPE is the Last Resort!

Keep this thought in mind as we delve deeper into PPE: It's the last option when all other methods are exhausted. Be it chemical, radiological, physical, or electrical, particular dangers require specific solutions. If you can eliminate, substitute, control or reduce exposure to potential risks, make it so, and if you can't, find a premier PPE supplier! According to OSHA, one should follow these steps when assessing work environments.

If...
You can physically change the machine or work environment to prevent employee exposure to the potential hazard,
Then... 
You have eliminated the hazard with an engineering control.

Now we know that's not always the case, but and when possible, make it so! For a more in-depth discussion, we highly recommend reading OSHA's own guidelines on PPE Assessment here.

 

OSHA Assessment Checklist
Safety Goggles and Face Mask

Eye for an Eye

Each day about 2000 U.S. workers experience  job-related injuries that require medical treatment. Small particles like wood chips, dust, and cement chips can abrade your eye and cause damage to the cornea.  At the microscopic level, health care workers are exposed to infectious diseases by way of respiratory droplets and contaminated fingers. Everything from minor conjunctivitis up and to HIV is on the table. At the basic level, a pair of safety glasses like these from MCR Safety will do just fine. Key features to look out for include polycarbonate lenses with UV radiation protection that meet or exceed American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z87.1 safety standards-2015 for eye and face protection from impact, radiation, and liquid splash exposures. 

In extreme cases, a full spectrum Uvex Bionic Face Shield might be necessary. As always, it depends on your organization's workplace assessment. 

Hearing Loss!

Did you hear that? According to The Center for Hearing and Communication, 48 million Americans experience some form of significant hearing loss. A noisy subway for just 15 minutes a day over time can cause irreparable damage. Noise maybe a problem at your workplace if you hear ringing or humming in your ears after work. But how loud is too loud? The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommend limiting the 8 hour exposure to less than 85 Decibel A-weighting (dBA). For comparison, a conversation 1 m away is 60 dBA, a heavy truck at 15 m is somewhere between 80-90 dBA. 

Depending on the risk assessed, protection can come in the form of Aearo E-A-R Classic Pillow Pack Ear Plugs (NRR 29) all the way up to 3M's Peltor Optime 105 Extreme Performance Earmuffs (NRR 30). You can even combine the two for an extra layer of protection. Workers in open office type environments have even purchased these very earmuffs to cut down on noise to boost their productivity. When shopping, pay special attention to its Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) and see whether they meet or exceed ANSI S3.19-1974.

Ear plugs and earmuffs for hearing protection
Hand protection for different hazards

Keeping Your Digits

When it comes to gloves, you can see a wide range of materials for different hazards. Leather gloves are great against sparks and heat, while Aramid fiber gloves are great for cut and abrasion resistance. Caustic chemicals require rubber in the form of Latex, Nitrile or Butyl. These are also great for reducing exposure to blood or other infectious substances. 

Medline Industries produces Polyethylene gloves that are ideal for food prep. These single use gloves are made latex, powder free, and are FDA approved for food handling. Proguard Deluxe Flock Lined Latex Gloves are perfect for janitorial use. Its heavyweight construction protects hands from tough janitorial cleaning products while giving you greater grip friction for grasping tools and other small objects.  

Do you have any questions in regards to safety and compliance in your facility? You can depend Business Supplies & Interiors as your PPE supplier! As always, we have solution experts on the ready to answer any questions you may have about sourcing your your safety gear.

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