PPE for Lab Professionals

In a laboratory, an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure. Taking steps to prevent exposure to hazards comes in many forms; establishing a culture of safety, administering regular inspections, and wearing protective gear, just to name a few. Personal protective equipment (PPE) comes in many different forms and varieties; knowing what equipment to wear and when to wear it is half the battle to keeping everyone in a workplace safe.

As part of a laboratory’s staff, you know that many of the chemicals and substances worked with in a lab are dangerous to handle. Accidental exposure to chemical solutions, biological agents, or other contaminated substances can cause extreme and permanent damage. Of course, taking precautionary steps such as working under a ventilation hood is a good start, but to increase lab safety, workers will also need to wear quality PPE.

Diving into Lab Safety Head-First

Starting at the top, protecting the eyes and face is a simple way to greatly increase safety in your lab. Not only do those working in the lab need protection from splash hazards, they need to increase their defenses against harmful fumes that can irritate and burn the eyes and other soft tissues. Properly using safety eyewear and face shields can significantly decrease these risks.

 Key Considerations
  • Anti-fog coating, or ventilated frames
  • Goggles that seal around the eyes
  • Compatibility with respirators
  • Compatibility with/prescription lens options
  • Heat-reflective face shield window
  • Removable or lift-front face shield design
 Recommended Gear

Photo of Verdict Goggles

2400 Verdict® Goggle

Getting a Grip on Safety with Gloves

Wearing gloves reduces the risk of contact with substances that you may not even know are there. Whether you’re pouring, mixing, or just cleaning up, gloves are an important piece of armor against accidental chemical contact. There are many qualities to think about when choosing the right gloves for the task at hand.

 Key Considerations
  • Reusability
  • Thickness or puncture resistance
  • Durability
  • Resistance to hazardous chemicals and substances
  • Coating
  • Extended or incidental contact coverage
Recommended Gear

Photo of NitriMed Glove
NitriShield Gloves

Dress for the Job

While wearing a hazmat suit should be more of the exception than the rule, being covered from head to toe in protective garments is still a good idea. Of course, clothing that is loose or provides inadequate coverage is never safe. Most, if not all, scientific labs will require hemlines below the knee, sleeves that come to the wrist, and closed-toe footwear. Some labs also require the use of shoe covers to prevent the spread of chemicals from work area to work area.

Key Considerations
  • Intensity of splash hazards
  • Resistance to chemicals and hazardous substances
  • Flame resistance
  • Tight cuffs around wrists and ankles
  • Ease of removability in case of contamination
Recommended Gear

Photo of Coveralls
12WPC Coveralls

PRO3 = PROfessional PROtection PROviders

US Standard Products has a wide selection of top quality protective equipment that provides safer and smarter protection in the lab. Start exploring your options by downloading our free catalog or calling 1-844-877-1700 today.

To stay up-to-date on the latest workplace safety news and trends, follow US Standard Products on social media:

Google+ | LinkedIn | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

Picking Proper Protection: Face Shields

In any workplace, there are a number of hazards that an employee might encounter and be injured by. Among these threats are several dangers to the eyes and face. But Prevent Blindness America has found that these injuries are some of the most preventable. In recent years, they have identified 86,000 work-related accidents that could have ended with a serious eye injury but were prevented by the proper use of eye protection. While many professionals are actively promoting the use of safety eyewear, civic and manual labor professionals often need the added protection of a face shield. While you should never wear a face shield by itself, knowing when to and what kind of face shield to wear for a task is essential when picking out protection for your employees.

When to Wear

OSHA requires all employers to, “ensure that each affected employee uses appropriate eye or face protection when exposed to eye or face hazards from flying particles, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids or caustic liquids, chemical gases or vapors, or potentially injurious light radiation.” But when exactly is the additional protection of a face shield necessary?

Put simply, face shields should be worn when safety eyewear offers insufficient protection for the potential hazards present in a situation. Since face shields do not seal in the face, safety eyewear should always be worn underneath. This ensures that workers are protected from hazards slipping behind the shield and into their eyes. See our blog about the basics of preventing eye injury for more information on safety glasses and goggles.

What to Wear

Three options to consider when picking out face shields for your worksite include window material, headgear, and operation design:

  • Window Material – There are three main materials used to make face shield windows: polycarbonate, Lexan, and wire mesh. Polycarbonate and Lexan shields are both advanced plastics and protect against impacts, but Lexan is more scratch resistant. Wire mesh windows offer less protection against fine particle and liquid splash hazards, but they never fog up.
  • Headgear – Wearing a face shield shouldn’t interfere with other protective equipment. When you need to be wearing head protection as well as a face shield, you can attach the shield to a hard hat with a bracket. Otherwise, face shields can be attached to their own, specialized headgear for a comfortable, safe fit.
  • Operation Design – Being able to operate safety equipment with minimal interruption to workflow is an important detail to consider. Face shields can operate in two ways: as removable windows or lift-front visors. Removable face shields are designed to be simple to replace while lift-front visors make it quick and easy to raise and lower the face shield during a task.

US Standard Products has a wide selection of face shields that provide safer and smarter protection for manual labor and civic maintenance professionals, including welders. Visit our website to download our free catalog and start exploring your options. To stay up-to-date on the latest workplace safety news and trends, follow US Standard Products on social media:

Google+ | LinkedIn | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

Reducing Eye Injury: The Basics

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that about 2,000 workers in the US sustain a work-related eye injury that requires medical attention each day. Prevent Blindness America and many other professional organizations maintain that 90% of these accidents could be prevented. As an employer, you are responsible for providing the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) for every person working under your supervision. You can do your part to prevent these injuries from happening by understanding when eye protection should be worn and what type of protection should be used for different tasks.

When to Wear

OSHA requires workers to wear eye protection when “exposed to eye or face hazards from flying particles, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids or caustic liquids, chemical gases or vapors, or potentially injurious light radiation.” If there is even a remote chance that an employee could be struck by an object, exposed to toxic fumes, or ultra-bright light, (like from a welding arc), they are required to protect their eyes to avoid eye injury.

Even with this defined list, however, eye injuries are still occurring in US workplaces at alarming rates. There are many factors that lead to the 20,000 workplace eye injuries reported each year,  including workers wearing old, worn out gear, wearing equipment improperly, and even not wearing any protection at all.

What to Wear

There are three main variables when deciding what eye protection is best for a task: lens color, lens thickness, and type of frame.

  • Lens Color – The lens color used with eye protection should be largely dependent upon the lighting condition. Generally, clear lenses will provide the proper protection. However, when working outdoors, in low-lit areas, or on welding tasks, different colored, coated, and filtering lenses are recommended. To learn more, read our blog dedicated specifically to colored lenses and their applications.

  • Lens Thickness – Some jobs have an increased risk for high-impact hazards. Machinists, millwrights, carpenters, plumbers, and pipe fitters are all positions that should have more than just basic impact protection. High-impact lenses may still require the use of additional protective measures like side or face shields.

  • Type of Frame – While mostly interchangeable, there are some differences that should be considered when choosing what protection to provide workers. Goggles are more prone to fogging up than glasses due to their sealing fit around the eyes, and may require frequent removal to clean the lens. Glasses may not fog as easily, but they leave the wearer open to splash contamination and should be worn with side shields when impact hazards are present.

Eye Protection from the Pros

As an employer, it is your responsibility to create a culture of safety and ensure that all your employees are properly wearing the protection that you’ve provided them. Take the time to train your employees about what tasks in your workplace require which kinds of safety gear. Additionally, when a worker reports that their safety equipment, including eye protection, is worn out, it is your duty to replace the old equipment.

US Standard Products has a wide selection of top quality protective eyewear that provides safer and smarter eye protection. Start exploring your options by downloading our free catalogue or calling 1-844-877-1700 today.

To stay up-to-date on the latest workplace safety news and trends, follow US Standard Products on social media:

Google+ | LinkedIn | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

Listen Up! 5 Guidelines to Protect Your Employees’ Hearing

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health estimates that about 22 million US employees are exposed to hazardous noise levels at work, making occupational hearing loss one of the most common work-related injuries in the country. With OSHA’s recommended “danger zone” starting at just 85 decibels, chances are that your industrial or construction workplace requires the use of hearing protection.

Common Sounds Measured in DecibelsSource: Chevy Chase ENT

1. Choose the Right Noise Reduction Rating

Having the gear doesn’t help if it isn’t the right quality. If crew members are using earplugs that don’t have the right noise reduction rating (NRR), hearing damage could still occur. Even though most hearing protection products come with a NRR on the packaging, you will still need to ensure your earplugs have the correct rating for the environment. If you’re not sure where to start, the CDC published a helpful guide to calculate and use the correct NRR for your work environment.

2. Keep Communication Lines Open

Protecting your hearing is good, but being able to communicate while working with proper protection in place can be challenging. To ensure clear lines of communication, despite the use of hearing protection, you might consider developing hand signals to help your employees get the message across. Another option is designating a place to step away from the noise and remove hearing protection safely. Digital earmuffs with radio capabilities are also a safe bet. These “walkie-talkie” earmuffs allow communication to continue without having to shut down machinery or move away from the work area.

3. Get Tested

OSHA standard 1910.95 requires employers to provide workers with annual hearing tests. While having an audiometric testing program is mandatory, the benefits of tracking employees’ hearing are worth the expense. Together, the baseline test and the annual test results allow employers to see if their hearing conservation efforts are working. If hearing loss is detected, employers can take follow-up measures to prevent further damage. For additional employer responsibilities, see OSHA’s hearing conservation guide.

4. Know When to Wear

As the old adage goes, knowing is half the battle. Educating employees about hearing protection and when it is necessary is the best way to strengthen your safety culture. Some key points to communicate include when and where to wear hearing protection, which protection to use in different situations, and the lasting damage that results from failing to use the proper protection.

5. Replace When Ready

Worn-out equipment should be thrown away. Following the manufacturer’s care instructions helps to keep the hearing protection working at their best. You’ll know that it’s time to replace earmuffs when the headband is no longer able to keep the muffs snugly against the head. To get the full benefit of the equipment, conduct regular inspections, checking that the earplugs and muffs are still flexible and safe to use.

Stock Up on Gear that Protects the Ears

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:

Google+ | LinkedIn | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

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.

Keep up with the latest industrial workplace trends by following US Standard Products on social media.

Google+ | LinkedIn | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

Exploring Safety Equipment for Extreme Environments

As a trade professional, you likely know the ins and outs of safety best practices—the importance of wearing the right gear and having the right protective equipment on hand has probably been drilled into your head since day one. But what about those times when you’re pushed out of your comfort zone? Literally. Throughout the course of your career, you’ll likely encounter extreme scenarios and environments that will call for extreme safety measures. Here we’ve outlined some of those common “extreme” environments and exactly what you’ll need to ensure maximum safety on the job.

Small, Enclosed Spaces

Whether you’re working in a multi-mile tunnel or a small crawlspace under a home, tight, enclosed spaces present a unique set of safety challenges—they’re often dark, have poor ventilation, and pose serious risk in the case of a fire, to name a few. Stay safe in this extreme environment by ensuring you always have a hard hat, safety glasses, protective footwear, a portable hand and/or cap lamp, and a self-rescuer on hand.

Heights

From conducting roofing work, to changing a light bulb, to washing windows on a skyscraper, heights are a common factor involved with many jobs. And while all jobs include some fall risk, when you’re working at extreme heights, a fall can lead serious injury, if not death. In additional to traditional PPE gear, the gear needed to work safely at extreme heights might include a harness, anchor, lanyard, deceleration device, and a mechanical prusik.

Extreme Heat or Cold

No matter the temperature, the work still has to get done. When working in extreme heat—whether outdoors or in a sweltering space such as an engine room on a ship, you’ll want to wear moisture-wicking fabrics and drink plenty of water. Here, we put together a guide for working safely in hot weather. In the cold, you’ll want to dress in layers and always wear an insulating hat to retain your body heat. Read more in our cold weather gear guide.

Unsanitary Environments

For some workers, such as waste collectors or sanitation crews, germs and general “yuck” are just part of the daily job. But across all lines of work, you may have to deal with unsanitary environments on occasion, and when that occurs, it’s crucial to have the right protective gear. When dealing with hazardous materials, there are different levels of protection required depending on the risk of exposure. In general, however, you should always wear protective eyewear, a hard hat, and chemical-resistant gloves and boots, and also have a respirator and full body suit on hand.

Order Your Extreme Environment Safety Gear Today

US Standard Products is a nationwide provider of quality operational and safety products. Contact us today at 844-877-1700 to learn how we can help equip you and your team with the proper gear needed to safely work in extreme environments.

To stay up-to-date on the latest workplace safety news and trends, follow US Standard Products on social media:

Google+ | LinkedIn | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

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:

Google+ | LinkedIn | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook