In mining and construction sites, there are many measures to prevent work-related injuries and potential health hazards. Training, warning signs, regular equipment maintenance, and safety tools must all be present for a sound working environment. Miners and construction workers, however, are regularly exposed to more extreme conditions—two of these are excessive noise and low visibility—which require vigilant precautions both underground and on the surface.
Heavy equipment and machinery produce sounds that are above the normal level ears can bear, and federal government permits noise at the maximum level of 87 dB(A) in an 8-hour exposure. However, this may still put onsite personnel at high risk of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). In Canada, excessive exposure to occupational noise accounts for approximately 9,000 cases of hearing impairment each year, a health hazard that affects their job performance, safety, and daily lives.
Looking right into the source of noise and reducing its sound level is a guaranteed method of prevention, but it is, more often than not, impractical. In this case, hearing protectors such as ear plugs and earmuffs are prescribed to and worn by workers. But choosing the right hearing PPE can be confusing. Here’s a list of the common types of hearing protection equipment to help you decide.
- Ear plugs — Ear plugs are easy to carry around anywhere. They’re inexpensive and are either reusable or disposable. Preformed or pre-molded ear plugs, mostly made of rubber or plastic, are available in small to large sizes that can be washed and reused. Foam ear plugs are meant to follow the form of your ear canal as it expands, ideally making it “one size fits all.”
- Earmuffs — Designed to completely cover the ear, earmuffs offer greater ear protection compared to stand-alone earplugs. These have small to large ear cups with cushions and are sometimes used with earplugs for better noise protection. One common complaint about earmuffs is that they are uncomfortable to wear with safety glasses on.
- Canal caps — Canal caps have flexible headbands with form-able or pre-molded ear plugs on both tips. You can leave it hanging around the neck when not in use, making it convenient to use and carry.
Protective Clothing – High Visibility
Working underground where supply of natural light is scarce to non-existent, or outside where fog or concrete dust cloud the vision can pose threats to the safety of miners and construction workers. Accidents like running over workers with heavy-duty machinery due to low visibility are not uncommon but are highly preventable.
In order to identify the risks that come with working around moving vehicles, hazard assessments are recommended as part of workplace injury prevention. When a significant amount of exposure to traffic hazards is found, warning signs and reflective clothing that alert vehicle operators of a worker’s presence will be required. In finding the right high-visibility clothing, here are some points to consider:
- Colour — Colours should be fluorescent red-orange or red; bright yellow-green, red-orange or red; or fluorescent yellow-green for background materials. For contrasting colour stripes, fluorescent red-orange, yellow-green, or red can be used and must have a noticeable colour contrast to the background material.
- Size — Full coverage of the body with fluorescent colours or contrasting colour stripes makes the worker and his movements more visible from different directions. It should be lightweight and fitted to the person with enough room for garments worn underneath (e.g. jacket).
- Brightness — Bright colours and fluorescent materials are best worn under daylight. In low light worksites, fluorescent colours and reflective materials are more effective. Under dark conditions, retroreflective materials provide better visibility than fluorescent materials.
Connect with Francis Felices on Google+