PPE: Your Top 8 Work Wear Must-Haves For Winter

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Winter is already here, and so are darker days and cold, wet weather. This is the time when Canadians are more susceptible to workplace hazards and sickness brought about by some of the toughest weather conditions this country has to offer.

Cold weather can affect mental alertness and manual dexterity, and can lead to accidents such as slips, trips, and falls. Exposure to cold weather can also bring about deadly health risks such as hypothermia and frostbite. All of these things can affect worker productivity and ultimately, the bottom line of your company.

For workers who spend much of their time outdoors, preparation is a must. This means that members of the workforce such as construction workers, road crews, utility workers, fire fighters, and commercial fishermen, to name a few, must use specialized weather-appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and clothing to be able to combat the harsh, cold temperature and still perform their work task safely and properly.

Employers must provide the right PPE that are suitable for the temperature, the task that will be done, and the physical exertion needed to accomplish the task. The PPE should also comply with government standards and regulations. If your workers are exposed to harsh winter conditions, the following PPE items are a must so your employees will be safer, healthier and more productive in winter work environments:

Anti-exposure Work Suits

In extreme cold and wet environments, your employees need an anti-exposure work suit that can protect them from hypothermia. These are waterproof and designed to keep you warm on the boat and in the water. The one-piece overall provides comfort and allows for a full range of motion so you can perform your tasks well.

Rainwear

Rain can aggravate winter cold problems. Employees who work in the rain should wear rain gear that fully covers their body. Rainwear come in three types: water-resistant, waterproof/breathable, and waterproof. Which type to choose depends on how much time you will be spending in the rain and the intensity of your tasks.

Safety Goggles

The eyes are often forgotten when it comes to winter protection. But cold air and wind can quickly dry eyes and  mucous membranes. Goggle help prevent eyes from heat and moisture loss. They also protect your eyes from wind and flying particles, and provide additional face coverage as well.

Winter Gloves

Your hands are your most important tools to perform any task, so it only follows that you should make sure they are protected from the harsh weather. A good pair of warm, insulated work gloves is a necessity when working outdoors in cold climates. You can choose from mittens, ski gloves, neoprene glove and other options to address your cold weather exposure needs.

Boots

Like your hands, you also need to keep your feet warm. Extremities, such as the hands and feet, are most prone to conditions such as frostbite and chilblains. Felt-lined, rubber bottomed, leather-topped boots with removable insoles are best for heavy work in cold weather, but waterproof boots are more suited to tasks that involves walking and standing in water.

trex-6310-ice-traction-device-9464b-lgIce Traction Devices

Traction devices are placed over existing footwear to give extra traction for walking on wet, icy surface, and prevents slip and trip incidents. These are ideal for road construction workers, roofers, installers, deliver person, utility men, among others.

Winter Liners

Use cold weather winter liners to keep the head, neck, and ears warm when wearing a hard hat or other safety head gear. For more severe exposure to cold weather, there are full head covers with openings for the eyes, nostrils, and mouth, and come in flannel, knit, and even neoprene materials.

Work Tents

Wind chill can be dangerous in windy environments. A work tent acts as a temporary shelter for your workers who need to work outdoors, and reduces the length of exposure of workers to deadly wind chill factor.

Working outdoors in the cold is no laughing matter. It can be dangerous to the untrained and to people without adequate winter clothing. But for a well-informed and prepared worker, it can be an enjoyable and fulfilling experience. Wearing winter-appropriate PPE helps make that happen, as well as following these winter safety guidelines to avoid accidents and mishaps in the workplace.

 

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Safety Vests: Get To Know the Different Classes

250_375Visibility is an important part of job safety, especially if you work in industrial or construction sites. These jobs require you to perform tasks close to moving vehicles and equipment in different weather and light conditions. You need to be highly visible at all times to avoid accidents and injuries. Which is why for the Canadian workplace, wearing a safety vest is a must, and a legal requirement.

Safety vests are Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) designed to make the wearer more visible to others. These come in bright, neon coloured fabric and feature strips of reflective tape which reflect the light from headlights of moving vehicles. Workers who wear safety vests are easier to spot, even from a distance or in low light conditions. As a result, accidents are reduced since motorists and machinists can easily see the workers wearing the high-visibility vests.

When it comes to choosing the best safety vests, you can use this handy guide on choosing safety vests to help you in your decision. Aside from this, you also need to know the different classes of safety vests and their application so you can comply with the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) regulations:

Class I

Class 1 vests provide minimal amount of bright and reflective material, usually in orange, yellow, and lime green. They are used for occupational activities with low traffic, meaning the worker must have ample distance from the approaching traffic. Vehicle speed should not exceed 25 mph, and the worker must have his full attention to approaching traffic. These vests are ideal for sidewalk maintenance workers, parking attendants, and shopping cart retrievers .

Class II

Class 2 safety vests are worn by people who need greater visibility in areas of high traffic, dangerous weather conditions, and complex backgrounds. People who work in construction, law enforcement, emergency response, and utility fields need to wear this type of safety vest.

Class 2 safety vests are worn over the top of uniforms or shirts and come in fluorescent orange, lime, or yellow. Several styles of class 2 vests are available including adjustable variants, illuminated, mesh, and even vests made of flame retardant material. Usually, the vest also displays the company or department logo for identification purposes.

Class III

Class 3 safety vests offer the highest level of visibility and are required to be worn by workers on federal road right-of-ways when exposed to traffic or construction. They must be worn by workers performing heavy-duty tasks in limited or no light conditions, in areas of higher traffic in excess of 50 mph, or in extreme weather conditions.

Class 3 safety vests provide visibility through the full range of body motions from a distance of at least 1,280 feet. Similar to the Class 2 vests, they can also be imprinted with a department or company name,  and come in fluorescent yellow, lime, or orange. You can choose from a variety of materials such as rubber, mesh, and  non-mesh. A variety of styles for these vests are available from the common jacket to even overcoats and sweatshirt like apparel.

Maintaining high visibility should be a priority. You need to make sure that you and your workers are wearing the correct safety vests for your specific tasks when applicable. Wearing a safety vest lets you avoid unnecessary accidents and keeps you and your workers safe, enabling you to do your jobs properly. Always make sure you are wearing the right protective clothing before performing any task. This can spell the difference between an accident-free work zone and an accident-prone work zone.

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Construction Safety Tips: Choosing Safety Vests

Safety VestsA construction site is a workplace full of hazards. In fact, according to the 2008 survey of work-related injuries by ILO (International Labour Organization), the construction industry has the highest rate at 24.5 per 1000 workers. It’s no wonder safety is prioritized in this industry.

One way of ensuring safety is by wearing the correct PPE or Personal Protective Equipment which includes safety vests and other highly-visible safety apparels.

Why is visibility important in a construction site? Just like a biker or a traffic enforcer needs to wear reflective clothes to make them visible to motorists, construction workers need to be visible to each other in order to avoid accidents such as a crane dumping its load over someone’s head, or a truck running over a pedestrian worker.

Protective Clothing Standards

The United States’ ANSI (American National Standards Institute) came up with standard classifications that specify what types of vests should be worn where. In Canada, the CSA (Canadian Standards Association) established their own guidelines regarding safety vests. It can be found on the CSA Z96-09 standard entitled “Highly-Visible Safety Apparel. CSA Z96.1 specifies how to select the correct protective clothing according to use and the proper maintenance of these safety apparels.

Choosing the Right Protective Clothing

What should you consider when selecting the proper safety vests?

Aim for the Right Fit

It’s important to get the right sized vests that will fit your frame. Although most of the safety vests may come in one size, these may be adjusted to fit more securely to your body. Make sure that no extra hanging straps or other attachments are left unsecured and dangling as this could become entangled with machinery or ensnared with other materials in the construction site.

Choose the Appropriate Material

Daytime safety wear differs from night time wear in the materials used. Fluorescent materials are used mainly for the day time as it offers the best visibility. Reflective materials, on the other hand, are best used in the night time or low light conditions as it bounces back light off its surface to make the wearer visible to oncoming motorists or other workers.

Required Design

Traffic Vests

Make sure that the design of the safety vests is compliant with the CSA standards.  Criteria includes a distinctive “X”pattern on the back, front vertical stripes from shoulder to waist, and a horizontal stripe on the waist. Variations on the design are dependent on the class of safety apparel. The colours should be compliant to the CSA standards which are yellow-green, orange-red, red, and orange.

Don’t take chances with your workers lives. Make sure their PPEs including their safety vests comply with government standards and are made of high quality materials. Your workers deserve the best safety gears you can provide.

 

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Hearing Protection & Reflective Clothing Options

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.

Hearing Protection

Heavy equipment and machinery Ear Muff Headbandproduce 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

Reflective Safety VestsWorking 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.

 

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