How Do I Keep Safe From Hazards At Work?

Over the last couple of months, we have been discussing different areas of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). We have covered respiratory protection, gloves, head protection, ear and knee protection. This month we are going to cover the topics of fall equipment, high-visibility clothing and eye protection.

Fall Protection

Fall protection is used in more industries than you may realise; It is used in construction, building maintenance, window cleaning as well as the emergency services to name a few.

It is essential that your equipment is tested regularly and meets current safety standards which can be found on the government health and safety website – https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg367.pdf

Fall protection is generally broken down into 4 categories ; Fall prevention, fall elimination, fall arrest and administrative controls.

Fall elimination means to discover a way to complete a task without the need for working at height and removing the fall risk completely.

If the elimination of a fall cannot be achieved then fall prevention applies. This would apply for any tasks that need to be carried out close to a fall hazard, like working on the edge of a building.

Fall prevention falls in to two sections. The first being to use barriers at the hazard point such as rails or scaffolding around the building. The second section would be to ensure personal protection equipment (PPE), for example a Restraint Positioning Lanyard and Harness is used.

Fall arrest, means to protect a worker who has fallen, from dangerous contact with the ground, in other words to catch before descending. Hitting the ground from any height can result in serious injury, shock or even death, fall arrest equipment will prevent fatalities.

Administrative controls are required when and where changes need to be made to reduce the risk of a fall. This could be as simple as adding warning signs or notifying staff.

Ensure you and your company follow the fall arrest ABCDE for good practice and for the safety of everyone:

A – Anchorage: A fixed structure, this could be part of a building.

B – Bodywear: A full body harness, ensure your harness meets the European standards EN361 & EN358 such as a 4 point restraint harness.

C – Connector: How your bodywear and anchorage are connected together such as a lanyard.

D – Deceleration Device: This is an essential component designed to absorb the energy from a fall to reduce injury. This could be an energy-absorbing twin lanyard.

E – Emergency Plan & Equipment: A clear plan of action should a fall occur and a rescue to take place. This procedure should be made known to all workers.

High Visibility Clothing

High visibility or high-viz clothing, is clothing which is highly fluorescent. The main colour is bright, usually yellow, pink or orange with reflective tape or banding and can be seen easily against any background. High-vis clothing is worn in many industries and environments.

The visibility is categorised into 3 classes, the amount of fluorescent material and reflective tape on a garment determines the category.

Class 1: This is the lowest level. The minimum amount of fluorescent material is 0.14 sqm and reflective tape is 0.10 sqm. These garments are usually worn on the lower half of the body. The most common class 1 garment is trousers. They are usually made from fluorescent material with two reflective bands on each trouser leg.

Class 2: This is the medium level of visibility. The minimum amount of fluorescent material is 0.50 sqm and reflective tape is 0.13 sqm. High-vis waistcoats usually fall in this category with reflective bands over the shoulders and around the torso.

Class 3: You’ve guessed it, this is the highest class. The minimum amount of fluorescent material is 0.80 sqm and reflective tape is 0.20 sqm. These items cover a larger area of the body, such as a high-vis jacket.

Risk assessments should always be conducted to decide which class of visibility should be worn. High visibility garments should conform to the International standard BS EN ISO 20471:2013+A1.

Eye Protection

Eye protection means the use of eyewear such as glasses or goggles to prevent injury to the eyes or loss of sight. It can also be achieved by using a full face covering.

Choosing the correct eyewear primarily depends on the potential hazard.

Protective Glasses: These provide protection against small objects, and can be used to avoid dust impacting the eye. Similar to prescription glasses in style with wider arms for additional protection. If you are working outside, smoke lensed glasses will provide the protection you need and act in a similar way to sunglasses.

Safety Goggles: They provide all-round protection against liquids and small particles. The deep rims ensure the goggles seal the eye area and can protect from liquids and small impacts. The elasticated strap ensures a comfortable fit for the user. Depending on your working environment, you may require vented goggles to prevent fogging.

Ensure that your safety glasses and goggles are CE Marked and are EN166 Compliant.

Full Face Safety Visor: If you are at risk from a greater hazard then you may need full eye and face protection. Safety visors can be used as well as safety glasses if required and can be worn for prolonged periods of time as they are usually fitted around the head for additional comfort.

Depending on the task in hand, the shield can be a clear PETG (Polyethylene terephthalate glycol) or could be a mesh.

This concludes our monthly discussions on PPE, I hope you have found them informative. If you require any further assistance in regards to PPE please feel free to contact us on 01353 665141.

How do I keep safe at work?

Last month we started discussing the importance of PPE, we talked about face coverings, gloves and head protection. In this months blog, we are continuing this discussion by covering ear and knee protection

Lets start with…

Ear Protection

Ear protection should be worn if noise or sound levels exceed 85 decibels. Ear/hearing protection is designed to reduce the level of sound that reaches the eardrum to reduce the risk of hearing loss.

When you are looking at ear protection, it helps to understand the ratings so you can select the appropriate piece of kit.

The Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) is a measurement that rates the effectiveness of the device to reduce the sound exposure. The higher the NNR number, the better the noise reduction potential.

The Single Number Ratings (SNR) is an international rating system for noise reduction. Tests are carried out in laboratories that are independent of the manufacturer. The results determine the rating given.

NRR and SNR ratings show the number of decibels the item will reduce the noise level by. These ratings are measured differently so you may find the values are different but the general rule is the same, the higher the rating the better the performance of the item.

Ear Defenders or Ear Muffs provide protection by covering the ear with a cup. The outer shell of the cups is usually a hard thermoplastic with an acoustic foam layer. This foam absorbs the sound waves which in turn reduces the magnitude of the waves before they enter the ear. If you find defenders that are rated EN 352-1, this means that have been tested and meet the European requirements for hearing and performance protection. They must be labelled with the standard number, manufacturer and model number for identification.

Silverline compact ear defenders conform to EN352 and have an SNR rating of 27db. Each cup has a soft foam-filled cushion designed to provide comfort over prolonged periods of time. They fold up for easy storage on a work bag or workshop.

If you have little ones that are eager to help or if you are taking them to an event where noise levels may be high like a fireworks event, Junior Ear Defenders are ideal with an NRR of 26db. They offer a low profile and foam cushioned headband and cups for comfort.

Ear Plugs are another form of ear protection. They are able to offer a higher level of protection as they are inserted into the ear canal. They are used when the highest level of protection is required and because they fit into the ear canal they can be used with other types of PPE. They are extremely lightweight, easy to carry and store. Ear Plugs should conform to the EN352-2 European standard, however, this marking may only appear on the packaging. EN352-2 means that the plugs meet the requirements for EN352-1 as well as additional requirements such as design and minimum attenuation (loss of sound waves strength).

When you are considering ear plugs, you need to consider the environment in which you are going to use them. Do you require Corded Ear Plugs? It is very hard to tell if someone is wearing plugs, as they insert into the ear canal can be difficult to see them. Having corded ear plugs allows other people such as colleagues to see this item of PPE is in use.

Should you be working with machinery or in construction, corded ear plugs may be a hazard. Ear plugs without cords are available, try to get ear plugs that are bright in colour so that others may be able to see that ear plugs are in use.

Knee Protection

Knee Pads help to reduce the impact on your knees and provide cushioning when kneeling, to help prevent injuries. They may also protect you from sharp objects such as tools and nails. There are four types of knee protection:

Type 1: Knee protection which is not part of a garment. These are usually fastened to the knee by using straps.

Type 2: These knee pads are placed in pockets or attached to trousers in the area of the knee.

Type 3: This is completely independent and not worn as part of clothing, such as a kneeling mat.

Type 4: The knee protection for this level is incorporated into the design of a stand-alone item, such as a kneeling stool.

Each type of protection is defined by different levels of the European Standard EN14404. This standard measures the size, force distribution, penetration resistance and user testing.

Level 0 – Knee pads at this level are designed for working environments where working on your knees is minimal. They provide comfort when working on flat surfaces. Hard Cap Knee Pads provide this level of protection with a foam inner for extra comfort.

Level 1 – These pads provide protection against items 1cm or smaller which are on a hard and flat surface. They are ideal for those who are working on their knees in regular intervals. Gel Layered Knee Pads provide this level of protection. The gel layer compresses less than foam and gives greater comfort for longer.

Level 2 – Knee protectors rated level 2 can be used on flat surfaces as well as uneven surfaces in tough conditions, such as a building site or quarry. They must provide protection against a penetration force of at least 250+10 N. To get this level of protection, Hard Cap Gel Knee Pads are what you need. The pre-shaped flexible plastic caps and gel layer gives protection without reducing mobility or comfort.

Come back and have a read of our November blog when we will be discussing more PPE categories and keeping you safe at work.