Regardless of the industry or type of business you conduct at your work facility, fire safety should always be a main concern. Too often we get wrapped up in our work and do not take the conscious steps needed to prevent work fires. The best way to ensure the safety of your staff is through fire prevention and preparation. Talk with your staff about the following precautions they can take to be aware of their surroundings in the facility to prevent future fire emergencies.Read More
Environmental Health and Safety Blog | EHSWire
Nobody ever expects an emergency or disaster to occur in their workplace. Yet the basic truth is that emergencies can strike even in the least expected places, such as work. When it comes to workplace fires, the best way to protect yourself, your workers and your business is to develop a well-thought-out emergency action plan as a guide for when instant action is essential.Read More
"343" is a symbol of great sadness to members of the FDNY and their families as 343 is the number of FDNY firefighters who died on September 11, 2001. That staggering figure is remembered quite readily when recalling the events of that day and during the remembrances that have followed. However, almost six years later, the lives of two additional NY firefighters were claimed during the demolition of the 9/11-damaged Deutsche Bank Building.
The 41-story Deutsche Bank Building stood adjacent to the World Trade Center and was severely damaged by falling debris and smoke when the Twin Towers collapsed. The damage to the skyscraper was so extensive that it had to be demolished. However, as the federal EPA requires, before it could be demolished, all asbestos-containing materials needed to be removed.
By August 18, 2007, demolition was well underway and the building now stood at only 26 stories tall. Around 3:40 pm, a massive seven-alarm fire broke out as a result of a discarded cigarette in the asbestos decontamination unit on the 17 th floor. The building had not been inspected by the Fire Department since March, when it should have been inspected every 15 days. As a result, a crucial but inoperable fire standpipe forced firefighters to raise hoses up from the street to combat the flames. Inside the building, three firefighters struggled to pull a hose through the deconstructed building. Only one of these men survived. The configuration of the asbestos abatement added to the difficulty of fighting a fire in an already structurally-compromised building.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), an institute within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), completed a description and evaluation of the incident as part of their fire fighter fatality investigation. Several items stand out from the asbestos abatement as contributors to the fire:
- White plastic sheeting was used to partition the floor area into separate zones. All these partitions created maze-like conditions for the firefighters.
- Numerous zones were under negative pressure, as required for asbestos abatement, possibly drawing smoke and fire into localized areas.
- Stairwell doors were blocked by wooded hatch covers as part of the construction of the asbestos containments.
- Plastic sheeting, construction debris, and exposed lumber in partitions provided additional fuel.
These contributing conditions created by the asbestos abatement project have been recognized by several authorities, and in an effort to maximize safety, New York City enacted a number of new laws to ensure that asbestos abatement projects are conducted safely. These laws impact the ways that asbestos projects are filed, approved and inspected, and involve new levels of cooperation among the agencies that oversee asbestos and construction safety: the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (NYC DEP), the Department of Buildings (DOB) and the Fire Department (FDNY). Most notably, the NYC DEP created the Asbestos -Technical Review Unit (A-TRU) to ensure that asbestos abatement is conducted safely and a new process for filing for asbestos permits called Asbestos Reporting and Tracking System (ARTS).
ARTS enables applicants to submit applications and/or receive approvals (or objections) electronically. During the application process, applicants are asked questions to identify if
- the buildings fire protection systems (e.g., fire alarm or sprinkler system) will be turned off as a result of the abatement work,
- abatement work will result in blocked or compromised egress or whether any components of the fire protection system are going to be removed as part of the abatement
- abatement work entails removal of passive fire protection (e.g., fire resistance rated walls, sprayed on fireproofing, or smoke dampers)
If there is an impact to any of these fire protection items then a comprehensive Work Place Safety Plan must be developed for the project indicating abatement containment areas and systems, obstructed and temporary exits, tenant protection and a description of any measures that will be taken to mitigate compromised fire protection systems or means of egress. As a final item intended to promote life safety during abatement projects, the asbestos supervisor must inspect exits daily to ensure that there are no exterior blockages or impediments to exiting. If any blockages or impediments are identified, work must stop until the blockage has been removed. Essentially, deconstruction and asbestos-abatement work cannot compromise the safety of workers and firefighters.
As Carrie Bettinger noted in a past EHSWire blog, In our society and legal system it seems that, yes, someone (or many) has to tragically die before change and regulation are considered. In this case, the tragedy was 343+2. Hopefully the A-TRU process and increased oversight from NYC DEP, DOB, and FDNY will prevent another similar tragedy from occurring.
Postscript: The last of the Deutsche Bank tower criminal trials were completed in July, 2011. More information can be found at http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/07/nyregion/final-defendant-is-acquitted-in-deutsche-bank-fire-trial.html.
Topics: indoor air quality, health and safety, Construction H&S, EPA, Emergency Response, Homeland Security, H&S Training, worker safety, regulation, construction, emergency response training, demolition, 9/11, Work Place Safety Plan, asbestos, September 11, Deutsche Bank NYC, A-TRU, 9-11, Fire Safety
Slips, trips, and falls arent at the top of anyones most glamorous EHS topics list. Many people perceive slips, trips, and falls as minor incidents resulting solely from either carelessness or clumsiness. In fact, losing your footing is the basis for basic comedic art (ever watch The Three Stooges or Americas Funniest Home Videos?)
Quite the opposite -- slips, trips, and falls are a very costly and serious worker safety issue. In 2008, these incidents cost American businesses a staggering $13.67 billion in direct workers compensation costs. Thats more than any other cause and more than the combined cost of the third through sixth ranked causes.
Injury, Illness and Death Facts You Should Know
Slips, Trips, and Falls .
- Result in back injuries, strains, sprains, bruises, broken bones, concussions, and even death!
- Cause 15% of all accidental deaths, and are second only to motor vehicles as a cause of fatalities.
- Were the fourth leading cause of fatal work injuries in 2008 (13.4%, or 700 out of 5,214 fatalities).
- Rank as the second leading cause of disabling occupational injury.
- Are the third leading cause of all occupational injuries/illnesses (21.8%) and injuries/illnesses resulting in days away from work (21.4%).
How can slips, trips, and falls be prevented?
As with most safety hazards, slip, trip, and fall hazards can be minimized with a combination of good work practices, proper use of appropriate equipment, proper facility and equipment maintenance, and worker training. OSHAs Walking/Working Surfaces - Safety and Health Topic page provides links to all the applicable standards. Some basic preventive practices include:
- Good housekeeping
- Keep floors clean, dry, and sanitary
- Clean up spills promptly
- Keep aisles and walkways free of obstructions and clutter
- Fit properly
- Require slip-resistant foot in areas prone to wet or slippery conditions
- Fall prevention and protection
- Provide appropriate fall arrest systems
- Facilities and equipment
- Walking and working surfaces
- Floor surfaces should not be slippery or uneven
- Install non-slip flooring in areas prone to wet or slippery conditions
- Maintain floors in good condition
- Equip elevated working surfaces and stairways with guardrails
- Protect floor holes such as drains with grates or covers
- Promptly remove ice and snow from walkways, parking lots, etc.
- Adequate lighting
- Provide properly rated ladders
- Maintain ladders in good condition
- Walking and working surfaces
- Provide worker training for
- Slip, trip, and fall hazards
- Ladder use
- Personal fall arrest systems
- Provide worker training for
Dont Slip Up on Safety!
Bruising, twisting or breaking a bone makes your work life and personal life extra challenging its worth it to take a few minutes to prevent the accident from ever happening. On TV and in the movies, slips and other footing mishaps are carefully orchestrated with hidden padding, stunt doubles, some great camera tricks, and, of course, an endless supply of retakes. When youre working on the job, theres only one chance!
Using the tips listed above, take a look around your workplace to see if it meets the criteria to prevent slips, trips and falls. Dont forget to look at your own feet to see that you are properly dressed for the environment and job duties. If you see a situation that is unsafe or could potentially be a slip, trip and fall hot spot, make sure you point it out to your coworkers and safety officer so that a permanent solution can be found.
Has it happened to you?
Have you experienced a slip, trip or fall on the job? Could it have been prevented? What was the outcome for you and your company?
Topics: health and safety, General Industry H&S, OSHA Compliance, General EHS, Construction H&S, Emergency Response, H&S Training, Compliance, worker safety, Occupational Safety, Lab Safety & Electrical, construction, General Industry, Fire Safety, fall protection, trips, slips
We all know what Green Buildings are, right? There are various permutations but generally, to be green, the structure is designed, built, maintained and sustained in an environmentally responsible and resource-efficient manner. The end-all objective is to reduce impact of the built package and system on both the environment and mankind by
- Using energy, water, and other resources efficiently
- Protecting occupant health
- Improving employee productivity
- Reducing pollution and waste
As a LEED AP-certified professional who specializes in Indoor Environmental issues with a focus on fire and life safety, I was very interested in recent articles that are creating awareness of some critical health and safety problems inherent to the green building movement that 1) use innovative, locally-produced products, and 2) implement new design, construction, and operation approaches intended to reduce energy usage and be environmentally sound.
Green Building Fire Safety
In Megan Grennilles recent EHSWire article about the seminal Triangle Fire, it noted that building and fire code rules caught up with the high rise construction only after the tragedy of 146 worker deaths highlighted the challenges of safety and rescue in the case of a fire. The same situation recently occurred in Bakersfield where a green-constructed Target store highlighted some new concerns for health and safety for emergency responders:
The fire at the Bakersfield Target started, firefighters learned, at the photovoltaic array [solar] on the building's roof. Even after the firefighters disconnected the electrical mains, they discovered that the solar panels were still energized, presenting a safety challenge in addition to the fire.
This brings to light how the integration of green building practices on a seemingly typical commercial building can present new hazards that must be identified to protect building occupants and emergency responders. Fire fighters responding to an alarm may cut electrical power from the supply grid, but what is the procedure if there is an active solar array or an integrated wind turbine generating power as a part of the building? Other new electrical and fire hazards facing unprepared emergency responders include the unknown level of fire resistance of recycled/green building materials, how to control fire spread on green vegetative roofs, and how to control smoke in wide, open atrium areas.
owners of green buildings might have to be aware that the green designs can present previously unconsidered challenges that arise as a direct result of construction choices. ...Because codes even a decade after green design concepts hit the mainstream still largely deal with traditional building designs and materials, facility managers have to know how to address the intersection of green design and current codes.
The bottom line is that "green concepts should be reviewed as part of a fire-protection and life-safety analysis, because buildings, green or not, must meet building and fire code standards to protect the health and safety of both the occupants and emergency responders.
Moisture and Mold Management in Green Buildings
Another potential hazard of green buildings is the management of moisture within the building and how selection of a green design and materials may be inappropriate if the location and weather are not considered: the design-and-construction community must not assume that if one builds green, then one will be building regionally correct or even lower risk buildings.
A recent article, Hidden Risks of Green Buildings, was written from an insurance underwriters perspective and centered on the management of moisture. The article mentioned the trend of using carbohydrate-based building products instead of petroleum-based building products. That is where my eyes widened! Any indoor quality consultant knows the formula: moisture + food source = perfect habitat for mold growth. Carbohydrate-based building products are food for mold!
Moisture comes from many sources in a building: bulk water from a rook, window, or facade leak; water pipe break; HVAC condensate overflow; condensation on cold surfaces; or vapor (relative humidity) in the air. Additional humidity can be added to the air by introducing humid outdoor air that has not been properly dehumidified or from other sources such as showers, locker rooms, steam rooms, gyms, kitchen facilities, human respiration (particularly if more people are occupying the space than the original design). ( More information on these moisture-related potential problems including the risk of LEED flush-outs can be found here.)
Moisture meeting carbohydrate-based building materials over time certainly does look like the potential beginning of The Perfect Storm, because, in reality, carbohydrate-based building materials, even treated with the best biocide, would only be mold resistant not mold proof. Given food, water, and time mold will grow. So as a professional IEQ consultant who has seen it all when it comes to mold contamination, I sincerely believe the articles foreshadowing that the design community would be advised to prioritize the lessons already learned from the waterproofing, humidity control, and building forensics community. When using potential mold food within a building, moisture control is ever more critical to the air quality of the building as well as the building materials life cycle.
Are you interested in green construction? Have you thought of the potential hazards that can be created when using new technologies, new materials and tightening up the envelope?
Topics: OSHA, health and safety, General Industry H&S, OSHA Compliance, General EHS, Construction H&S, Emergency Response, H&S Training, worker safety, Occupational Health, Occupational Safety, regulation, Fire Safety, shirtwaist, fire, triangle
Whats the job of a Respiratory Protection Program (RPP) Administrator?
This individual is officially listed in the sites written Respiratory Protection Program and is accountable and responsible for the day-to-day operation of the program. Some of those day-to-day tasks include
- Maintaining the site Respiratory Protection Program
- Assessing the workplace for potential respiratory hazards
- Defining worker exposure for these hazards
- Selecting appropriate respirators to provide protection from defined hazards
- Medical evaluations are conducted of employees required to wear respirators PRIOR to fit testing
- Respirators are fit tested for all required users
- Proper use of respirators during routine and emergency operations
- Respirators are appropriately cleaned, disinfected, stored, inspected, repaired, discarded, and maintained
- Adequate air quality air is supplied if supplied air respirators are used.
- Respirator users are trained in respiratory hazards, and the proper use and maintenance of respirators
- Periodical evaluation of the Respiratory Protection Program implementation
- Workers who voluntarily wear respirators (excluding filtering facepieces) comply with the medical evaluation, and cleaning, storing and maintenance requirements of the standard
- All voluntary-use respirator users understand Appendix D of the standard
Yes, these incessant and critical health and safety tasks can be quite overwhelming! Whats the big deal? For the company or job site or administrator who does not understand why a qualified and empowered RPP Administrator is a big deal, here is a triple-play of Top 5 facts that illustrate the importance of qualified training for Respiratory Protection Program Administrators!
Top 5 OSHA Violation!
Did you know that the Respiratory Protection Standard was in the Top 5 most frequently cited standards by OSHA compliance officers last year? Why be a part of that statistic? More about 2010s Top 10 cited violations can be found in a recent EHSwire blog by Emilcotts Sarah Damaskos.
Top 5 Reasons YOU need to be Qualified
- Workers at your site are required to wear respirators for protection from respiratory hazards and you selected these respirators.
- You train respirator users on how to put on and take off their respirator along with the limitations on their use, and their maintenance.
- Implementation of the site respiratory protection program (which you wrote) is just another one of your jobs!
- Airline (atmosphere-supplying) respirators are used at your site and you make sure that an adequate air supply, quantity, and flow of breathing air is available.
- You coordinate the medical evaluation of employees who must use respirators.
Top 5 OSHA Compliance Indicators!
If you get a visit from an OSHA Compliance Safety and Health Officer, they review these essential factors to help determine if the Respiratory Protection Program Administrator is Qualified:
- The written Respiratory Protection Program and interviews with the program administrator reveal an understanding of the familiarity with the respirator standard, site respiratory hazards, and the use of the respirators in the workplace.
- Respiratory fit testing is conducting annually or at assignment and the program administrator maintains.
- Hazardous airborne contaminants that employees may inhale have been identified. Reasonable estimates of employee exposures were used in determining the appropriate respirator for employees to use.
- Recent changes in the workplace such as new processes have been evaluated for necessary respiratory program changes
- The program administrator keeps a written assessment of the program operations and implements changes that may be considered as efforts toward improvement.
How to Become a Qualified RPP Administrator
Focused, hands-on training with experienced health and safety instructors can make the difference for a Respiratory Protection Program Administrator clarifying the waters by understanding the objectives of the law and how it applies to each work site!
As Health and Safety consultants to many types of companies, Emilcott staff are on job sites each day and see health and safety violations such respirators perched on foreheads or tissues jammed in the sides to ensure a bitter fit. Are these problems an employee violation or a company-wide result of not understanding the importance of a competent Administrator who can develop, maintain and enforce a respirator protection program that reduces occupation risk?
In these cases, we conduct urgent and immediate on-site RPP Administrator training that often includes high level managers to ensure that there is a top to bottom understanding of the importance of proper respirator usage. In addition to our private training, the Emilcott Training Institute offers public enrollment Respiratory Protection Program Administrator training courses in two formats: an intense 3-hour course with a small class size and an in-depth two-day course. In both classes, students learn the level of information required for their sites and are taught by an experienced H&S instructor that can answer questions.
So if you are unfamiliar with your required duties as an RPP Administrator or you want a better understanding of how to encourage better respirator usage by your site personnel, look around for an effective RPP Administrator training class. Once complete and in practice, you should dicover aTop 5 list that looks more like this:
- OSHA respirator inspection passed without any problems, fines or additional action.
- Site personnel actively wear their respirators the way that they are supposed to!
- Site workers reinforce the importance of respirator use to their colleagues (even when youre not around)!
- Managers understand the need for respirator use and support related site activities such as testing of hazardous airborne contaminants.
- Written assessments of program changes are treated as a necessity for business to move forward rather than resented.
You ARE a Qualified Respiratory Protection Program Administrator!
Topics: Emilcott, OSHA, Personal Protective Equipment, health and safety, General Industry H&S, OSHA Compliance, General EHS, Construction H&S, Emergency Response, H&S Training, Compliance, worker safety, Occupational Health, Occupational Safety, Lab Safety & Electrical, emergency response training, Fire Safety, Exposure, Respiratory, Occupational Training, RPP, respirator protection program, administrator
When some of us head to the “office” the decisions we make about what to wear go way beyond fashion…our very lives could depend on our wardrobe choices. For many workers, Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE, protects them from slight and serious workplace injuries or illnesses resulting from contact with chemical, radiological, physical, electrical, mechanical, or other hazards. Here’s a rough guide to occupational “Dress for Success” (and survival!).
A properly fitting, ANSI-rated hard hat will do more than protect you from falling stuff. They’re rated to provide protection against electric and chemical hazards as well. By the way, you have to wear your hard hat correctly if you want it to protect your noggin: Do not wear it backwards. Do not wear another hat underneath (except a proper hardhat liner). Any stickers have to be removable so that the hard hat can be inspected for integrity.
Next, Move Down to the Eyes
According to OSHA, Not all eye protection is the same. Start by looking at the ANSI-89 rating on the specs. Does the rating match your job function? And, don’t let style issues affect your decision whether or not to wear them. Safety glasses used to be big, unattractive, and were often uncomfortable. Not anymore! There are styles and sizes for everybody and most “well-dressed” workers have at least two pair: sunglasses and clear. Keep in mind that eye injuries, including permanent blindness, occur on the job every day. According to OSHA, “ eye injuries alone cost more than $300 million per year in lost production time, medical expenses, and worker compensation”. Don’t let it happen to you.
OSHA considers face protection separate from eye protection - one is never a substitute for the other. This OSHA powerpoint is a great overview of eye and face protection requirements. Find out if your job (grinding and pressure washing for example) requires a face shield.
Don’t Forget Your Ears!
Your hearing is a delicate tool that, once damaged, cannot be repaired. Did you know that most cases of hearing loss in the US are the result of occupational exposure? Hearing protection, like respiratory protection, can get a little complicated so if you’re confused, ask an expert. EHS experts like Emilcott can perform quantitative noise analysis and provide best recommendations to protect hearing for your worksite. To start, a good rule of thumb is that if you need to raise your voice in normal conversation, you probably should be wearing hearing protection.
Protection for the body varies greatly depending on the hazard(s) encountered. At a minimum, make sure you can be seen! High visibility garments are required by OSHA and DOT when working around traffic and are a good idea all the time.
Last (But Not Least), Your Feet
Safety footwear is required by OSHA if your feet are subject to injury. They also must be ANSI- approved -- look for the markings on the shoe or boot to be sure.
The Final Word
Keep these points in mind the next time you get dressed for work:
- While individual PPE items may not go “out of style”, they do go out of date. Check your gear to make sure it’s still within the expiration date.
- Once your PPE has protected you from an injury, replace it. It did its job and you don’t know how it will hold up a second time.
- And, finally, get the good stuff. Those cheap boots may seem like a bargain until your feet start hurting.
By the way, the Dress for Survival list above, with the exception of respirators (a blog in itself!), is considered “minimum PPE” on most sites. You need proper protection for each body part just to get in. Don’t know what to use? For every job, there are specific OSHA requirements that are designed to keep you safe – your health and safety office or EHS group should be a resource for information as well as monitoring the worksite for safety needs.
Does your company keep employees protected by dressing them in the appropriate safety PPE? Have you ever done a self-evaluation, head to toe, of what you are wearing and if it adequately protects you from the job hazards that you may encounter? Has your safety clothing ever protected you and how?
Topics: OSHA, indoor air quality, Personal Protective Equipment, health and safety, General Industry H&S, General EHS, Construction H&S, Emergency Response, H&S Training, Hazardous Waste Management, Compliance, worker safety, Occupational Health, Fire Safety
Barbara Glynn Alves
I cut my teeth in the environmental, health and safety (EHS) business helping prepare a group of experts for deposition in civil actions. It was fascinating work, but I can tell you without hesitation, that not all experts are created equal. If you are in litigation regarding an environmental, health or safety issue, there is a good chance that both plaintiff and defendant counsel will enlist the services of an expert or two. Caveat emptor - shop around!
What is the role of an Expert Witness?
The legal profession relies heavily on the use of industry experts to clarify and support evidence or facts that are at issue. These experts are most often used to clarify the scientific or technical facts of the case. Specifically, the job of the expert witness is to assist the trier of fact (either the judge or a jury) by helping them understand things they might not otherwise understand.
Counsel seek experts based on their knowledge, training, education, skills, reputation or experience in their field of expertise in accordance with the Federal Rules of Evidence 702 (FRE 702). As with all expert witnesses, EHS experts are generally asked to perform a variety of different tasks, depending on counsels strategy for the case:
- Review documents
- Conduct independent investigations
- Perform research particularly on regulations
- Prepare an opinion about the facts
- Present an expert report written or orally
- Give a sworn deposition
- Testify at trial
How do you shop for an EHS expert?
Cautiously! Litigation is expensive in both professional fees and time so it pays to use the most qualified and suitable expert available. In addition to following FRE 702, your counsel should also consider the experts ability to write technical documents, the level of support the expert can provide to research the facts of the case, and their comfort level providing these services in the legal forum and within a litigious and, perhaps, emotionally charged environment.
Also, to better illuminate a witnesss expertise, there are several independent certifying boards that can help you and your attorney through the vetting process. The organizations listed below use a fairly elaborate and strict certification procedure and have required continued maintenance actions of their designees. Each one of these organizations gives additional information about their specific certification requirements and process on their websites. Their areas of expertise are also clearly explained, particularly if you are in need of a specialist.
- The American Board of Industrial Hygiene certifies professionals in the practice of industrial hygiene. ABIH is responsible for ensuring high-quality certification application and examination processes, certification maintenance and ethics governance and enforcement.
- The Board of Certified Safety Professionals certifies professionals within several designations all related to safety in the workplace.
- The Institute of Hazardous Materials Management offers several professional certifications that demonstrate various levels of knowledge, expertise, and excellence in the management of hazardous materials.
- The Board of Environmental Auditor Certifications certifies four designation of EHS professionals which demonstrates the competency, professionalism, and ability of EHS auditors.
- The American Board for Occupational Health Nurses (ABOHN) is an independent nursing specialty certification board and is the sole certifying body for occupational health nurses in the United States and awards four credentials: Certified Occupational Health Nurse (COHN), Certified Occupational Health Nurse - Specialist (COHN-S), Case Management (CM), and Safety Management (SM).
For both counsel and client, I recommend spending time to do research and find qualified EHS professionals who can help you win your case. Ask for detailed CVs, referrals, samples of published writings and the achievement of board certification. As an EHS consulting group with professionals who have achieved CHMM, CIH, CSP, PE, CHMP and CHST designations, Emilcott is often asked to provide expert witness services in a wide variety of environmental, health and safety legal matters. We take certification from independent sources seriously, as do our clients. In fact, attainment of a professional certification has always been a requirement for our senior technical staff. Working with the legal profession has only reinforced that philosophy.
Have you ever worked with an EHS expert witness? What did you think of the experience?
Topics: OSHA, indoor air quality, EHS, General Industry H&S, General EHS, Construction H&S, Emergency Response, Homeland Security, H&S Training, Hazardous Waste Management, Compliance, TSCA & R.E.A.C.H., Lab Safety & Electrical, Fire Safety, legal, law, experts, expert witness
The health effects from airborne hazards are a frequent topic in many health and safety courses, especially in hazardous substance and hazardous waste training. This is because so many of these exposures may not show up as health problems for decades! Consider asbestos. While its not harmful to the touch, inhalation can be fatal, but it can take 25-30 years before asbestosis or mesothelioma can develop. Both are chronic and often deadly diseases of the lungs.
The lungs are amazing. It surprises most people to learn that the lungs have the largest surface area of any body organ -- about 80 times more area than the skin, or about the size of a tennis court! As we breathe, our lungs are in constant contact with the outside world and that is a lot of contact area. They need to be protected.
Over three million American workers are required to wear respirators to protect themselves from hazardous airborne contaminants. Not surprisingly, OSHA has some pretty strict rules when it comes to protecting our lungs . Despite this , it is estimated that more than half of the respirators worn are not worn in accordance with OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.134
Did you know that
- If workers are wearing respirators, a written program is required?
- A medical evaluation is required for anyone who wears a respirator?
- A fit test of each respirator worn must be conducted initially AND annually?
- The workplace must be evaluated to determine the hazard so that the proper respirator (there are many) can be selected?
- These rules, and others, apply to what many people refer to as dust masks?
Proper respirator usage training is also required. Why? Because wearing the wrong type, wrong size, or an improperly fitted respirator can be more dangerous than not wearing one at all. For example:
- Wearing a filtering respirator in an O2-deficient atmosphere, or the wrong cartridge, can mislead you to believe that you are protected when you are not!
- A mask with even the slightest poor fit allows contaminates in and may actually increase exposure levels.
- Not everyone can wear a respirator. Because a respirator restricts your breathing, people with certain medical conditions can be seriously harmed by wearing them. This is why being medically cleared prior to use is so important, and required.
Not complying with the rules designed for occupational safety can be costly and not just in fines and penalties. Too many workers have destroyed their health by failing to protect their delicate, vital lungs. And, its not just at work. Working around the home and yard can also present respiratory dangers, too. If you are not sure that you need more than a dust mask ask someone who can help.
Have you been properly trained to use your respirator and fit-tested to make sure it is actually stopping hazards from reaching your lungs?Are you confident that you are using your respirator properly and that the respirator that you have selected is the best for the contaminants you are exposed to? How about the person next to you - are they in compliance? Hopefully you and your workmates can answerYES! to these questions. If you have any questions about respiratory protection, please ask me!
Topics: OSHA, indoor air quality, Personal Protective Equipment, General Industry H&S, General EHS, Construction H&S, Emergency Response, Homeland Security, H&S Training, Hazardous Waste Management, Hazardous Materials, Compliance, worker safety, Occupational Health, Occupational Safety, Lab Safety & Electrical, emergency response training, Fire Safety, environmental air monitoring, Respiratory, Occupational Training