When to Replace Safety Equipment

There might be more than calendars that need to be replaced in your workplace this January. As an industrial workplace employer, the safety of your workforce falls to you. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is considered the last line of defense for workplace safety. No matter the industry, knowing when to replace safety equipment minimizes failure of worn-out devices and resulting injuries. Here are some ways to know if it’s time to discard the old PPE and bring in some new gear.

Fall Arrest Systems

The number one workplace hazard is fall protection, so it should be at the top of your list when looking at what safety equipment needs replacing. The most important time to inspect a personal fall protection system is after it has been part of a fall event. OSHA guidelines state that these systems should be, “immediately removed from service and shall not be used again for employee protection unless inspected and determined by a competent person to be undamaged and suitable for reuse.”

OSHA-certified inspectors should inspect fall arrest systems yearly. Often, the equipment will have a suggested inspection date instead of an expiration date, as it is no longer required for manufacturers to incorporate one on the label. Any system that fails inspection, “must be withdrawn from service immediately, and should be tagged or marked as unusable, or destroyed,” per OSHA regulations.

Hard Hats

Without a mandated lifespan from OSHA or ANSI, it can be difficult to know when hard hats need replacing. Obviously, if there is visible damage on the exterior or interior, the hard hat needs to be removed from use. Many manufacturers recommend replacing hard hats every five years, regardless of outward appearance, and the interior suspension every 12 months.

A hard hat’s usability also depends on what sort of environment the user is working in. Extreme environments with elements such as increased heat, exposure to chemicals, or sunlight reduce the lifespan of hard hats, making them suitable for only approximately two years before needing replacement.

Shoe Safety

There is one piece of equipment that employees are almost sure to wear home: their shoes or boots. As an employer, the fact that work shoes are worn off-site makes it difficult to ensure that each worker’s footwear is up to snuff. So how do you make sure that what’s being worn complies OSHA and ANSI’s standards?

Regular shoe and boot inspections are a good start. Educating your employees on proper boot maintenance, care, and disposal is another way of ensuring proper protection. Some companies go as far as instituting shoe subsidy programs to encourage workers to replace footwear regularly. Since employees are sometimes responsible for providing their own safety gear, like boots, these subsidy programs ease or erase any potential financial burdens on workers that are associated with having new, appropriate shoes on hand.

Safety Gloves

Different jobs demand different kinds of protection—and that especially applies to hand protection. Once your employees have the right gloves for the job, you’ll also need to ensure that the gloves are in working order before each use.

Start by checking for tears, cuts, holes, or other defects before and after each task. Since gloves can get caught on tools and equipment easily, loose-fitting gloves and gloves with hanging strings should not be worn. Before starting any job, hands and gloves should be clean and dry, and for gloves that may have been contaminated, follow proper disposal procedures. Always keep extra gloves handy for when used ones need replacing.

Protection Provided by US Standard Products

Fully functional safety equipment is the key to keeping your workers well protected. US Standard Products, a nation-wide provider of quality operational and safety products, has the personal protection equipment that you need to keep your employees safe. Call 1-844-877-1700 today to learn how we can help equip your team with the gear necessary to meet OSHA standards.

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Heads Up! 3 Tips to Ensure Your Hard Hat is Safe.

When it comes to safety equipment, the hard hat arguably trumps all. Protecting one of your most critical body parts from impact, the structural integrity of your hard hat is of utmost importance. In fact, in 2012, 1,020 workers died from on-the-job head injuries, according to the National Safety Council. To help ensure your helmet is to the highest safety standards, we’ve put together the top three rules all hard-hat-wearing professionals should know.

1. Know When to Give Your Hat the Boot

As part of your daily routine, when getting suited up for the job, you should always be inspecting your hat for any type of damage—cracks, chips, dents, etc. Even with average wear and tear, hard hats aren’t meant to last forever. Every year or two you should be replacing your suspension, and every five years or so, it’s time to hang up your hat (literally), and invest in a new one.

2. Let it Be

We get it—hard hats might not be the most flattering safety gear, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to take “sprucing it up” into your own hands. In fact, making modifications to your helmet can seriously affect its overall ability to protect your head during impact. Avoid making any of the following adjustments to your hard hat for maximum protection:

  • Wearing a baseball cap underneath – A cap can interfere with the suspension of your helmet—a risk not worth taking. Plus, most caps have metal or hard plastic pieces, which can incur even more damage should you hit your head on something. A safe alternative is a bandana.
  • Painting your helmet – Paint can chemically damage the shell of your helmet, which could lead to an increased risk of injury.

There are, however a few modifications that have been tested and proven to not affect the safety capabilities of hard hats. These include:

  • Using stickers – Give your hat a bit of personality with self-adhesive stickers, but avoid placing any near the edges – ¾ of an inch is a safe distance.
  • Wearing your helmet backwards – Not all helmets are safe to wear backwards, but many are. Check with the manufacturer and be sure to reverse the suspension before doing so.

3. Damaged Goods are No Good

In the unlucky event that you get a bump on the head while wearing your hard hat, you’ll want to play it safe and replace it immediately. Even if there isn’t any visible damage, the impact could have affected the suspension or compromised the integrity of the hat’s protecting capabilities.

At US Standard Products’ core, we believe in keeping workers across all industries safe from the dangers of the job, and do so by providing the highest quality operational and safety products. To stay up-to-date on the latest workplace safety news and trends, follow US Standard Products on social media:

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Stay Safe with this Checklist for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

To reduce workplace accidents and shield workers from potential hazards, it’s important to have a thorough plan for equipping workers with personal protective equipment (PPE).

Without protective equipment plan, employees are at risk of injury and employers could be subject to fines or penalties. OSHA stipulates that employers must pay for personal protective equipment for employees with the exception of prescription safety glasses, safety-toe protective footwear and other equipment or clothing that is personal or worn outside of the job.

To help determine which protective gear is necessary for the job, we’ve prepared a checklist of commonly required personal protective equipment below.

Eye Protection

When thinking about eye protection, it’s important to consider any occupational risk to the eyes or face. Common hazards include dust, liquid or chemical splashes, abrasive particles, sparks or molten metals, and it’s also important to consider comfort and the visibility requirements of the job.

In any situation that involves the hazards above, workers should, at a minimum, have a trustworthy pair of safety glasses, while some jobs may require full face shields or welding helmets. In many instances, certain types and colors of safety glasses can help improve visibility and job performance, so it’s important to consider that as well.

Head & Face Protection

In addition to the eyes, head and face protection is one of the most important areas to consider to prevent significant injuries at the workplace. Generally, a safety helmet is essential in environments where a worker could be struck on the head by a falling or fixed object, if a worker could potentially fall or if they could come into contact with an electrical hazard.

Hearing Protection

Each year, roughly 30 million workers in the U.S. are exposed to hazardous noise levels in the workplace. It’s estimated that about 125,000 workers suffer significant or permanent hearing loss each year while on the job. With these statistics in mind, employers are required to provide hearing protection to workers who are exposed to volume levels at or above 85 decibels for at least eight hours per day. However, even if workplace noises don’t reach 85 decibels, it’s still highly advised to provide hearing protection for workers.

Recommended hearing protection can vary by industry, though we previously outlined some of the best options for hearing protection in various work environments.

Hand Protection

In many professions, hand protection is absolutely essential when working with dangerous machinery or equipment or handling harmful substances or materials. However, there really is no one-size-fits-all glove for protecting the hands, so it’s important to identify the material and type of glove that works best for your industry.

Lucky for you, we’ve previously prepared guides on finding the right gloves for the job. You can find them listed below:

Foot Protection

Finding proper foot protection is essential, though between the protection offered, the thickness of the material, and the type of sole, it’s important to make the right choice based on your industry and work environment. All workers in a laboratory, factory, workshop, construction or outdoor work environments should have enclosed footwear.

In workplaces with chemicals or harmful substances, all footwear should be resistant to hazardous substances. In workshops, construction sites or factory settings, boots with steel caps or increased protection are recommended. 

Skin Protection

Employers aren’t typically required to provide most methods of skin protection (long-sleeve shirts, pants, sunscreen, etc.), though it is still a very important area to consider. Especially in outdoor environments, workplaces with exposure to flames or electricity or environments with hazardous substances and chemicals, employees should have adequate skin protection to ensure they aren’t exposed to potential harm.

To protect your employees from common workplace injuries and accidents, consider all of the areas of protection above and verify that the equipment you are providing is adequate. If you’re in need of safety equipment to protect your team, check out the U.S. Standard Products catalog. We offer a wide range of cost-effective, protective safety gear to help minimize workplace accidents and injuries.

For the latest safety tips, stay tuned to the U.S. Standard Products blog, or follow us on social media:

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