Is PPE important?

As an employer, you are in charge of a safe and healthy working environment for your employees. You are familiar with the safety risks within your sector, as well as the measures you can take to counteract these risks.

What is Personal Protective Equipment ( PPE ) ?

PPE means personal protective equipment or equipment you use to guarantee your (own) safety. Use PPE always and anywhere where necessary. Observe the instructions for use, maintain them well and check regularly if they still offer sufficient protection.

Why is PPE important?

PPE is needed in these cases to reduce the risk. Making the workplace safe includes providing instructions, procedures, training and supervision to encourage people to work safely and responsibly. Even where engineering controls and safe systems of work have been applied, some hazards might remain. These include injuries to:

  • the lungs, eg from breathing in contaminated air
  • the head and feet, eg from falling materials
  • the eyes, eg from flying particles or splashes of corrosive liquids
  • the skin, eg from contact with corrosive materials
  • the body, eg from extremes of heat or cold

1. Safety for The Head

Wearing a helmet offers protection and can prevent head injuries. Select a sturdy helmet that is adapted to the working conditions. These days you can find many elegant designs and you can choose extra options such as an adjustable interior harness and comfortable sweatbands.

2. Protect Your Eyes

The eyes are the most complex and fragile parts of our body. Each day, more than 600 people worldwide sustain eye injuries during their work. Thanks to a good pair of safety glasses, these injuries could be prevented. Do you come into contact with bright light or infrared radiation? Then welding goggles or a shield offer the ideal protection!

3. Hearing Protection

Do you work in an environment with high sound levels? In that case it is very important to consider hearing protection. Earplugsare very comfortable, but earmuffs are convenient on the work floor as you can quickly put these on or take them off.

4. Maintain a Good Respiration

Wearing a mask at work is no luxury, definitely not when coming into contact with hazardous materials. 15% of the employees within the EU inhale vapours, smoke, powder or dusk while performing their job. Dust masks offer protection against fine dust and other dangerous particles. If the materials are truly toxic, use a full-face mask. This adheres tightly to the face, to protect the nose and mouth against harmful pollution.

5. Protect Your Hands with Right Gloves.

Hands and fingers are often injured, so it is vital to protect them properly. Depending on the sector you work in, you can choose from gloves for different applications:

  • protection against vibrations
  • protection against cuts by sharp materials
  • protection against cold or heat
  • protection against bacteriological risks
  • protection against splashes from diluted chemicals.

6. Protection for The Feet

Even your feet need solid protection. Safety shoes (type Sb, S1, S2 or S3) and boots (type S4 or S5) are the ideal solution to protect the feet against heavy weights. An antiskid sole is useful when working in a damp environment, definitely if you know that 16,2% of all industrial accidents are caused by tripping or sliding. On slippery surfaces, such as snow and ice, shoe claws are recommended. Special socks can provide extra comfort.

7. Wear The Correct Work Clothing

Preventing accidents is crucial in a crowded workshop. That is why a good visibility at work is a must a high-visibility jacket and pants made of a strong fabric can help prevent accidents. Just like the hand protection, there are versions for different applications.

The importance of meeting OSHA standards for ventilation

Improve the air and your bottom line

How healthy is the air in your fabrication shop? Do you feel comfortable and safe working there for hours at a time? You should. It comes down to having the right ventilation. Here are some options.

From slippery floors to noise, numerous hazards exist in every workplace. But one of the very worst hazards is polluted air, particularly in the welding environment.

Regardless of the industry concerned, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends that hazards of all kinds be controlled at the source. In some industries, it is possible to build an engineered barrier between the hazard and the workspace. Additionally, specific personal protective equipment (PPE) should be worn or used to minimize any type of risk.

In the welding industry, common PPE includes safety goggles, welding helmets fitted with filter glass, gauntlets, spats, aprons, and heat-resistant gloves. Work areas also should be screened off so that others in the work area are not exposed to the electric arc or its reflection while welding is being conducted. The intense light associated with the arc can cause permanent eye damage.

The dangerous health risks of breathing in welding fumes are horrendous. In addition to relatively minor symptoms like dizziness; nausea; and nose, throat, and eye irritations, OSHA warns that prolonged exposure to welding fumes and gases over time can result in lung damage and various forms of cancer. Welding fumes also can cause stomach ulcers, damage to the nervous system, kidney damage, and conditions like metal fume fever.

Welding in confined spaces is particularly risky and can lead to asphyxiation and suffocation.

If the OSHA standards are met or, better yet, exceeded, welders and other employees working in potentially hazardous environments will have clean, unpolluted air to breathe.

OSHA Standards for Ventilation

It is essential that all welders understand the hazards they are exposed to. It is even more important that employers take steps to minimize these hazards.

While general ventilation that ensures natural or even forced movement of fresh air in the welding environment reduces gas and fume levels, this is not adequate. Not even welding outdoors or in open spaces provides sufficient ventilation for welders. Rather, local exhaust ventilation systems should be employed at the source to ensure that fumes, welding dust, and harmful gases are removed from every worker’s breathing zone.

Flexible or portable exhaust systems should be positioned to remove the polluted air away from the welder’s breathing zone.

Alternatively, general mechanical ventilation can ensure that welding fumes and polluted air are minimized and maintained within safe limits that meet OSHA’s health and safety regulations.

Figure 1: Traditional push/pull, duct-type ventilation system.


If necessary, additional respiratory protection may be needed, particularly if adequate ventilation cannot be provided.

But these are minimum specifications; ideally, a proven general mechanical system should be used together with a local exhaust system.

Industry Options for Improving Ventilation in Welding Environments

While the ventilation equipment chosen must meet the needs of the type of welding carried out as well as the location used, the best system ensures that the entire workshop, factory floor, or industrial warehouse is properly ventilated.

General Mechanical Ventilation Systems
Welding operations pollute the air. The warm, contaminated air rises and then sinks when it cools. Traditional push/pull, duct-type ventilation systems literally pull the polluted air out of the workshop via pipes and push clean air back, also via pipes (Figure 1). This type of system works reasonably well if smoke and dust levels are low, but it has obvious shortcomings, including the fact that it relies on a circular flow of air, and inevitably some dust and fumes mix in with the air that has been purified.

A recent development is a freestanding air tower that uses principles of displacement flow to provide the best possible full-room ventilation. It works in a similar but much more sophisticated way than the traditional push/pull system. Remember that warm, polluted air rises, and the tower sucks this contaminated air in from the top through its 360-degree lamella or gills. A two-stage method automatically cleans the filter. Because the air is pushed out slowly, without any turbulence, the possibility of dust and fumes polluting this clean air is reduced. Additionally, dust that is not contaminated is collected into bins for easy disposal.

Freestanding air towers are suitable for all types of welding applications, and they work exceptionally well in large production areas and where local exhaust systems aren’t possible.

Local Exhaust Ventilation Systems
Local exhaust ventilation systems use a variety of welding fume exhausts as well as filtration units, many of which are mobile. Wall-mounted or large central units can be attached to highly efficient exhaust arms that filter the polluted air at the source.

The choice of a local exhaust system depends on a number of requirements. For instance, some are more suitable for frequent or continuous use than others, while some are better-suited for use at workstations that change frequently.

Features also vary. For instance, you might prefer a mobile filter that has an exhaust hood that rotates and swivels and doesn’t have to be adjusted frequently. Maybe an automated cleaning cycle is important to you, or you just want a self-cleaning filter incorporated in a unit that has automatic dust disposal. Some units are meant for welding environments where there isn’t much dust or smoke; others are designed to handle high levels of dust and smoke.

Central and freestanding filtration units also vary, although all are stationary. A central extraction unit designed for use with robots is a good choice for large welding workshops or where grinding is common. It has a filter that is cleaned automatically with rotating nozzles and compressed air and can be used with various exhaust arms if required.Another type, designed for use in smaller workshops, can be used at up to four workstations at one time and be connected to a central piping system.

All of these systems are OSHA-compliant.

It really is a no-brainer that those operating welding workshops and factories should use well-designed ventilation equipment to keep their employees (and themselves) safe and healthy. Ultimately, doing so helps ensure that workers perform better, which improves productivity, reduces costs, and increases profits.


SORT Your Way to a Safer Work Environment 

There is an endless amount of acronyms when talking about safety. The acronym S.O.R.T. is a tool that can help remind us to take steps to address hazards and create a safe work environment. S.O.R.T stands for Stop, Observe, Recognize, and Take Ownership.

  1. Stop- It is necessary to take time not only at the beginning of the work shift to evaluate both the work area and equipment for hazards, but also as conditions change. When we are rushed we miss the small details that matter. Always take the time before a task begins to evaluate the work task you are about to do. Anytime conditions change or things are not going as planned, stop work and evaluate what needs done to correct the situation.
  2. Observe- Take time to evaluate at the environment around you. How are weather conditions, lighting, and temperature at the work area? Are the needed personnel and tools in the work area ready to go?  Has all equipment been thoroughly inspected prior to starting the work task? Has all necessary paperwork such as SOPs, JSAs, or permits been reviewed and completed?
  3. Recognize- Once you have stopped and observed the work area what hazards do you see? Your ability to recognize hazards comes down to utilizing training, safety meetings, company policies, lessons learned, safety shares, and past experiences. Much time is spent in discussing and training everyone onsite to be able to recognize hazards in order to mitigate them and protect ourselves from injury.
  4. Take Ownership- Ownership is the most important part of the process. Once you recognize hazards or potential issues while on the job, own them. See through that they get properly corrected in a timely manner. It is easy to just walk past an issue and think that it is not your problem. In reality any hazard on the job is your problem. If someone else is hurt or there is property damage due to the hazard you recognized and walked past, it will have some sort of effect on you. Incidents affect a jobsite as a whole, and depending the severity, can have far reaching consequences for an entire company. There is also guilt you could feel due to an injury occurring to a coworker from a hazard you could have addressed. Taking ownership means more than just communicating the hazard to the other people in the work area. Stop work if necessary and get the right people involved to correctly address the hazard.


While these four steps are very basic, it is easy to skip some of them and just go through the motions due to complacency or time restrictions when at work. We often complete many of the same work tasks in the same way every day. This makes it easy to fall into a trap of having blinders on to hazards that could lead to an injury. Use the S.O.R.T. tool to remind yourself to take the time to really evaluate your work area for hazards and to take ownership of them.

Sort Your Way to a Safer Work Environment Safety Poster

Recognized Vs Unrecognized Hazards

There are many hazards in our workplaces and at home that can cause great harm if exposed to them. So much time, effort, and money is spent by companies to train their employees to be able to recognize hazards in an attempt to prevent injuries from occurring. While it is often thought that new employees of a company who may not understand the hazards of the job are most at risk for injury, a case can also be made for those experienced employees who have become complacent with the hazards of their work. A question to consider: Which are more dangerous- the hazards we recognize or the ones we do not?

The Dangers of Unrecognized Hazards

Unrecognized hazards create a huge risk for injury on the job. Failure to be able to recognize hazards can result in exposure to every employee in a work area where the hazard is present. A huge goal in return for the time spent discussing safety in the workplace is to improve employees’ abilities in hazard recognition. The thought process being, if employees are able to recognize hazards they can take action to protect themselves and others from them. That being said, it is important to consider those employees who have been on the job a long time and recognize the hazards of their work however may not take the necessary action in mitigating the hazards due to becoming complacent or comfortable with the risk associated with them.

Hasil gambar untuk hazards versusComplacency with the Recognized Hazards of Our Work

Workers in their positions for a long time understand the majority of the hazards of their work. Experienced workers have sat through countless hours of safety trainings and have many hours of on the job which allows them to recognize the hazards of their work. However, with this experience can also bring complacency towards taking risks for these workers. Those employees who have been on the job for a long time can be desensitized to the gravity of the hazards around them. Working around hazards for a long period of time without any negative consequences occurring can create a false sense of security which in turn can lead to an employee to be more willing to put themselves in the line of fire. This is often the case when time pressures or pressure for production, even if it is just self-imposed pressure, is present.

Habits and Safety

We all have habits that we follow on a daily or weekly basis. These habits have a major effect on our life. They also affect the choices we make at work. The choice to follow a safety procedure on any given day could be affected by a habit you have had for years.

Your Daily Habits

Think about the habits you follow every single day. Start with waking up. Did you hit the snooze button once or twice? Do you do this every day? What about breakfast? Did you cook in the house or did you stop at the same gas station you do every day to grab a quick bite to eat? Most likely the choices that you have made from the point you woke up today to right now in this safety meeting are the same choices you make every single day. These daily choices are your habits.

How Habits Work

According to Charles Duhigg, who is the author of the book The Power of Habit, there is a “habit loop”. The habit loop he describes in his book is a three part process. The first part of the process is the cue or trigger, the second is the routine or behavior itself, and the third is the reward.

Habits Safety TalkLet us take the example of you repeatedly hitting the snooze button and look at it as a bad habit you want to break. We will discuss the habit by looking at Duhigg’s habit loop. The trigger of this habit would be your alarm going off in the morning. While the alarm is blaring your mind tells you it is okay to hit the snooze button and continuing sleeping because in the past you have done it. Hitting the snooze button would be the behavior. The reward would be getting more sleep. To break this habit you would need to change one of the three components.

Looking at the routine first, maybe changing the location of your alarm to a location where you would have to get out of bed would work in breaking the habit. The alarm going off is still the trigger, but you have changed the routine by having to physically get out of bed making it less likely you will go back to sleep. Another option to help break the habit is experiencing a different reward which would be having more time in the morning. By not hitting the snooze button repeatedly you will experience a new reward of more time and less rush in the mornings before work. This reward alone over time may lead you to curve the habit of hitting snooze. Not all habits are easy to break, but you get the point.

Habits and Safety on the Job

Your habits may be leading you to consistently take shortcuts and not follow safety procedures. Are there certain safety procedures you always follow and others that you rarely follow? For example, you are a welder and every single day you complete your JSA, but many days there are times you choose not to lower your helmet while welding. Why do you choose to follow one safety procedure but not the other? Maybe you complete your JSA every day because you have to turn it in at the end of the day and you have learned that it gets reviewed. The reward would be not getting disciplined by a supervisor so you choose to do the JSA every day. On the other hand you choose not to lower your welding helmet because it is hard to see through and you know supervisors rarely enter your work area. The reward is that you feel it is quicker to do the task, you can see better, and you have not been injured yet. In your mind there is no consequence that will most likely come that is more negative than the reward you receive from not putting the helmet down so you continue the behavior.

Verbal Communication

Every single day when we are around other people, we are communicating something to them regardless if we actually speak to them. The way we look at people, what we wear, our facial expressions, and our body language are just a few ways we communicate with others outside of spoken word. It is important to be aware of what message we are sending to those around us and how it is affecting them or the work you are completing.

Non Verbal and Verbal Communication

Most people would guess that verbal communication makes up the majority of communication. Studies show however that the majority of communication is actually nonverbal. This nonverbal communication is linked to actual words we say. The Non Verbal Group states, “Dr. Albert Mehrabian, author of Silent Messages, conducted several studies on nonverbal communication. He found that 7% of any message is conveyed through words, 38% through certain vocal elements, and 55% through nonverbal elements (facial expressions, gestures, posture, etc).”  While this statement makes the claim that we overwhelmingly communicate non verbally, much of the communication is delivered through how we talk not so much as to what we say. When is the last time you have given thought to the link between how you communicate and the effect it has on the people around you?

ToastmastersWhy We Need to Be Aware of How We Communicate

Everyone has worked with someone who is consistently negative and is hard to approach about anything. Often times, most people do not want to approach these individuals or communicate with them due to how they communicate verbally and nonverbally. When an individual snaps back or approaches communication with others in a negative manner it is difficult to get any message across. Going back to the statistic about how communication is more about how we say something and less about what we actually say, everyone should be aware of how they are coming across to others.

When we pay no mind to how we communicate with each other, messages are lost or not conveyed at all. At work, communication is vital is being able to successfully work safely and efficiently. When everyone feels comfortable being able to approach each other it creates a healthier working environment. Effective and open communication creates a working environment that can lead to individuals feeling comfortable stopping work when needed, more hazards addressed, higher morale, less stress, and better cohesiveness between work groups.

CHAINSAW Safety Talk

Chainsaws are inherently dangerous tools. They are proven to be efficient in cutting down trees so it is no surprise that they can cause serious injury to flesh and bones in quick fashion. Each year there are over 30,000 injuries in chainsaw-related incidents in the United States. Many of these injuries occur at home, however there are many workers who are injured on the job using chainsaws. Most of the hazards can be mitigated through proper training, proper use, and wearing the correct PPE.

Chainsaw Injury Statistics

  • Most injuries from chainsaw use are due to “kickback”. Kickback occurs when the tip of the chainsaw hits a hard object such as a knot in the wood and kicks back towards the person operating it.
  • 36% percent of chainsaw injuries affect the legs and knees.
  • The average chainsaw injury requires 110 stitches according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.
  • In 2012, according to OSHA, 243 workers died in tree trimming activities.

Chainsaw Safe Work PracticesChainsaw Safety

  • Read the entire operation manual before using any chainsaw. Always operate within the manufacturer’s guidelines.
  • Do not alter any guards on the chainsaw. Also do not alter any safety features such as a lock-out or “dead man” switch. These switches will prevent the chainsaw from engaging accidently or will shut the chainsaw off if pressure is not applied on the switch.
  • Wear the correct PPE for using a chainsaw. Correct PPE includes: Protective chaps, hardhat, face shield, gloves, earplugs, and protective toe boots. While it may be an expensive investment, correct PPE will be far cheaper than a trip to an emergency room.
  • Do not operate a chainsaw on a ladder or any unstable surface. Losing your balance while operating a chainsaw can result in a deadly injury.

Ready for Work

Image result for ready for work

Coming into work healthy and in the right mindset every day is just as important as being properly trained or having the right tool for the job. Many factors, both on and off the job, affect how well or poorly we do our jobs on any given day. Some of the factors we will cover are sickness, fatigue, medication, and stress.

Sickness– We all get sick from time to time. Some illnesses are minor and work can continue, but others we need to stay home to get better before coming to work. When you are sick you may not be able perform your duties as needed and this can put yourself or others at risk for an injury. Know when it is time to stay home due to an illness. During flu season especially, it is important that you do not come to work and infect others. Not only are you not able to work to your fullest ability you also affect others being able to work due to being infected with your illness.

Fatigue– Fatigue is a killer on jobsites all across the country. Many employees work over the normal 40 hours a week. Add on the demands of home life and there are many people who are probably too tired to safely perform their functions. Get at least six hours of sleep a night and eat a balanced diet to help combat the demands of a busy life. Drink caffeinated drinks or take a break and stretch when feeling tired on the job.

Medication– Many medications affect how we feel. When starting a new medication it is important to try it off the job to see how it affects you. Ask your doctor about all of the side effects. Make sure he or she understands the work you do as well as any other medications you take. Let a supervisor know if you are not feeling well due to a medication. If you feel comfortable telling a coworker about what medication you are taking, let him or her know so they can keep an eye on you.

Stress– There is good stress as well as bad stress. We are more familiar with the bad stress. Stress from work demands, home demands, family problems, health problems, etc. affect us every day. A combination of high expectations for productivity and limited resources to complete work often leads to high stress levels on the job. It is important to be able to handle stress in a constructive way. Exercising or taking time to enjoy hobbies is a good way to relieve stress. Recognize when you are stressed and step away from the situation to take time to relax.

Whether it is sickness, fatigue, medication, or stress affecting you in a negative manner at work it is important to speak up and address the problem. When “simple fixes” are not enough to correct a health related issue it is important to let a supervisor know and cease the work task. Address the problem at its source to ensure you can continue to work productively and safely.

Increased Focus on Safety Research


The keyword “OSHA” peaks in January and February, and it’s easy to see why. After all, employers have New Year’s Resolutions of their own that place quite the emphasis on workplace safety!

What is the purpose of this trend discussion? One of the main elements of OSHA’s safety measures is to maintain a strict focus on safety…year round. It’s easy to see why searches tail off into the dog days of summer, as the “New Year, fresh start” mantra has worn off. But at the very least, it may not be tailing off quite as much with each passing year.

We can also assume that the searches incorporate a combination of curious employers and employees eager to read up on standards. Oh and, a few individuals looking to catch up on the news – OSHA citations are still common unfortunately!


The numbers on the left of the graph, from 0-100, show the term’s popularity. “100” is the peak popularity of the term throughout the year. “50” means that, at the given point, the term was HALF as popular as it was at its peak. With that in mind, let’s see the year-by-year comparison from New Year’s Day 2014 through February 11, 2018:

(Google Trends)
(Google Trends)

The date may be a little clustered, but the trends appear largely steady for each given month. The absolute peak came from January 29 – February 4, 2017. The next closest mark? A 99 very recently: January 28 – February 3, 2018.

How will the trend line look in 2018? With the new OSHA general industry and maritime rule enforcement for respirable crystalline silica coming on June 23, it sure feels like this summer will have a bigger focus on OSHA!

Asbestos Dangers

Asbestos is a material that was widely used in many building materials which are still found around us today. While it is still in use in a few different materials today, much of its use was stopped in the late 1980s after research revealed the negative health effects associated with its fibers. Many people have heard that asbestos is bad for human health, but do not understand how or why this is the case.

asbestos containing materialsWhat is Asbestos and Where is it Found?

Asbestos is the name given to a group of naturally occurring minerals that are resistant to heat and corrosion. It has been used in products, such as insulation for pipes (steam lines for example), floor tiles, building materials, and in vehicle brakes and clutches. Some occupations whose workers have historically been exposed include construction workers, demolition crews, shipyard workers, automobile technicians, and those who worked in factories that produced asbestos-containing materials.

How is Asbestos Bad for Our Health?

The International Agency on Research for Cancer lists all forms of asbestos as “carcinogenic to humans”.  A carcinogen is defined as any substance or agent that tends to produce a cancer. The reason this mineral is a carcinogen is because of the effects its fibers have on human lungs. Asbestos is made up of extremely small fibers that are naked to the human eye. These fibers can become airborne and stay suspended in the air. When they are breathed in the fibers can make it past our bodies’ natural defenses and get lodged into the tissue of our lungs. When this occurs, scar tissue begins to form which reduces the function of our lungs. It eventually progresses to disability and death. Mesothelioma is a common deadly illness caused by exposure to these fibers. Sometimes the effects are not realized for decades after exposure.

Best Practices for Working Around Asbestos

Become familiar with what building products asbestos is found in and what it looks like. Knowing what to look for is important to order to avoid disturbing these materials. There are many materials in our workplaces that still contain asbestos to this day, but it is relatively harmless until it is disturbed in a way that creates airborne fibers. Smashing, breaking up, cutting, or grinding materials that may have asbestos in it should never be done. Creating dust through sweeping is another task that should be avoided if it is thought any of the dust is from materials that contain asbestos. Any asbestos containing materials that are beginning to break down or flake need to be properly sealed or abated by professionals.


While much of the occupational exposure to asbestos in developed countries has decreased, there is still exposure all across the world to this carcinogen. Cases of mesothelioma are still being diagnosed in the United States today due to exposure decades ago. Protect yourself by not disturbing any materials that could possibly have asbestos in them.