Slips, trips and falls are often seen as a common sense issue, if they’re thought about at all. Pay attention, don’t be stupid, look where you’re going - in other words, keep your wits about you, and you should be smart enough to avoid any danger. What few realise is the extent to which slips, trips and falls forego logic, and make a mockery of common sense solutions. (Read More)
Simon Ash, UK Sales Manager at HAIX explores the history of safety shoes and how protective footwear has evolved.
Then vs. now
The history of safety boots can be traced back to the 20th century. Before this time it was was cheaper and faster to replace the injured workers than to introduce safety measures or provide personal protective equipment (PPE). It was the introduction of liability insurance costs that made larger corporations (Read More)
If you need to share visual information with your team in an ATEX environment, here are some values you can now show:
Synchronised Time HH:MM or HH:MM:SS, Safety Messages, Temperature, Pressure, Weight, Flow Rate, Bake Time, OEE, Down Time, Takt Time, Vehicle Licence Plates, Humidity, Total, RPM, Loading Bay information, machine status etc.
For hazardous applications such as establishing the health of electrical components at a substation, the ability to measure temperature accurately over a distance is critical. Achieving this depends on several factors and two of the most important are the resolution of the detector and the chosen camera lens.
You can compare resolution to human eyesight. If you have 20/20 vision, you can define the smallest letters at the greatest distance and that’s the equivalent using an infrared camera with a high-resolution detector. A low-resolution detector is the same as a person whose sight is low on the visual acuity scale. The vision is improved by glasses and in the case of the IR camera by adding a magnifying glass to optically reduce its distance from the target.
The UK leader in powered access hire for working at height, Nationwide Platforms, has chosen Elis to supply, maintain and launder protective workwear for its engineers, as well as to provide washroom and mats services.
Nationwide Platforms was already being supplied by Berendsen when it was bought by Elis. Now the company has renewed its contract with Elis after being impressed by the business benefits that the new company structure, procedures and technology can deliver.
“In 2019, 1,082 workers per 100,000 were diagnosed with a work-related, respiratory condition many of which could have been prevented by a properly fitted mask,” says Mark Smith, technical director of Simon Safety who is also an accredited face fit tester. “Ten years earlier (1999), that number was 3,418 so we’ve come a long way but 1,082 per thousand is still too many. The majority of those workers work in hazardous engineering environments.
“Whichever way you look at it, that number is unacceptable. It’s criminal that lives are still being lost and compromised by people’s work. It’s criminal that our health service is having to treat patients who have been made sick by their work. And it’s criminal that some employers are still not taking their responsibilities seriously enough and may end up in prison for that negligence,” says Mark Smith.
HSE now on the face mask case
During Covid, the Health & Safety Executive visited circa 1,700 engineering businesses and gained a deep insight into the state of UK engineering sector’s health and safety.
Given how much attention face masks were given thanks to the Covid pandemic, you would think that people who use masks professionally would know how to wear them but that’s not the case from what the HSE saw in the engineering frontline.
More often than not, the HSE inspectors saw people wearing masks which weren’t the right size, weren’t the right fit, leaked all around, didn’t take into consideration both facial hair and how long they were being worn.
Engineers - and those responsible for their safety – thought it was OK to wear a mask for an entire job, no matter how long that job took ie several hours. A mask’s effectiveness decays fast once it becomes water-logged with condensation after prolonged wear. Masks need to be regularly refreshed to work efficiently.
Why so many masks are wrong
“There’s a hierarchy of control and respiratory control is at the bottom of that list, which means that your mask and other PPE is your last line of defence,” says Mark Smith of Simon Safety, which is a registered member of the British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF) and the Registered Safety Suppliers Scheme (RSSS).
“As soon as a toxin is inhaled, it’s in your system because that’s how breathing works.
“And if a mask doesn’t fit someone’s face - and we’re all different – it’s never going to protect you.”
Getting masks fit for purpose
In a Hazardous Engineering Solutions exclusive, Simon Safety shares a simple guide to help you stay safe – both employee and employer – if you follow four steps:
- Get the right mask.
- Fit the mask and train.
- Maintain the mask.
- Regularly review.
Step 1: Get the right mask
The right mask is the mask you’ve identified which meets your needs through a risk assessment.
Type of mask:
- Disposable half masks.
- Reusable half mask.
- Full face masks.
- Powered air purifying respirators (PAPR).
- Breathing apparatus.
What’s right for the worker and their:
- Type of task.
- Face shape.
- Physical build.
- Facial features eg scars/warts.
- Facial hair (only certain equipment will work with beards).
Does the mask need to work with:
- Prescription spectacles (it’s the employer’s responsibility to ensure the operator’s spectacles fit inside the mask).
- Eye protection.
- Ear defenders.
- Helmet/other head protection.
When several vulnerabilities need PPE – e.g. eyes, ears, head and respiratory – combined protection is best because it’s easier and faster to use which aids productivity. Where a combination of different items of PPE is used, it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that the combination is effective.
What’s right for the work environment:
- Duration of task e.g. how long will the task take? If the task involves wearing a close-fitting mask, the worker should take a break at least every hour. Different PPE is needed for day or night operation and inside or outside.
- Work rate - does the task involve movement/perspiration? That may mean the mask could loosen over time.
- Nature of the toxins – eg they may be flammable, explosive, aerosol, vapour, dust etc.
Your compliance obligations:
- Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
- Fit testing is referred to in HSG53 – the HSE’s guide for employers to know (pages 19/20) and table 20 lists what type of mask employees need to wear.
- Fit testing brochure INDG479 – describes the methods you should use unless you have a process that’s as good or better. If you’re deviating from this guidance, you’ll need to prove good or better practice, which can be tricky so it’s usually best to stick to INDG479.
Step 2: Fit the mask and train
A competent person must conduct the fit test.
Find out exactly how the HSE defines ‘competent’ on their website. It’s easier to prove that someone’s incompetent than to prove they are competent.
The HSE and the BSIF (British Safety Industry Federation) define ‘competence’ as an individual fit tester that has been accredited to the Fit2Fit scheme. Accredited testers have proven an extensive knowledge of respiratory protective equipment in conjunction with demonstrating a high level of competence in one or more of the accepted fit testing methods.
Quantitative test methods – eg in a lab test chamber or using a portable device, how effective is the mask at filtering contaminants? Does the performance comfortably exceed the minimum expected pass rate?
Qualitative test – eg wearing the mask under a testing hood, can you discern bitter vs sweet smell?
Does the mask fit?
Ask yourself: “Would I be happy for my nearest and dearest to work regularly in a hazardous environment with a mask that fits like this?”
Step 3: Maintain the mask
- Every time you use it, check it over.
- Before every use, perform a ‘fit check’ as shown during your formal fit test.
- Closely inspect and keep a written record of the check at least once every month.
Step 4: Regularly review the mask and its fit
- A competent person must conduct tests.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Appropriate frequency: when a person’s face changes eg due to significant weight gain/loss or significant dental work.
- Recorded appropriately for the candidate’s training / HR records.
- Remind everyone of best practice of properly fitting masks on notice boards so malpractice can be called out.
- Review every one to two years to ensure all protection is suitable for the people and the environment.
In 2024, the Health & Safety at Work Act will be 50 years old.
The appeal from Mark Smith from Simon Safety: “We must all continue to learn from our mistakes if we’re to cut work-related respiratory illness and death in the hazardous engineering industry.
“Independent and authoritative research suggests if your average DIYer breathes in a small amount of spray-paint, two weekends a year, it might have no detrimental impact. But if you’re doing that every working day, it has a cumulative effect. Slow and incremental daily doses often lead to debilitating chronic, long-term health conditions or can be killers and contribute to premature death,” says Mark Smith of Simon Safety.
“Today’s filtering technology means respiratory masks efficiently trap and protect your lungs from the smallest particles providing they fit correctly.
“The mistakes made in the past – such as the tragedy of asbestos – were due to ignorance. But we now know better. The internet puts all the appropriate information at our fingertips. It’s criminal not to act on it,” says Mark
“If you’re concerned about face masks or other piece of PPE call 01646 600750 or visit Simon Safety’s website. Take advantage of our expertise and let’s make 2024 a reason for celebration of how far we’ve come rather than regret.”
ARC flash clothing is being increasingly needed due to the rise in ARC flash hazards becoming more of a risk in many workplaces. Due to the high demand of electricity and power that we continue to use in our daily lives, it is important that electrical workers are full equipped to deal with an ARC flash hazard event should it occur in the workplace.
When it comes to industrial safety, all of us understand the importance of wearing a hard hat, protective gloves or steel toe-capped boots. In fact, most employers wouldn’t dream of letting their teams on-site without adequate protection, and workers themselves are more than clued up when it comes to the latest safety requirements. However, the same can’t be said when it comes to the potentially fatal risk posed by Arc Flash – a relatively misunderstood, but extremely common type of electrical explosion facing sectors from utilities to industrial electrical, civil engineering and rail. Mark Lant, technical sales manager at ProGARM, explains just what an Arc Flash is, and what to look for to ensure your workforce is protected from the potentially fatal danger.
Lone Workers can enjoy ATEX compliant protection
Legislation does not prohibit lone working in a general sense, but companies and organisations must conduct a risk assessment covering the activities of all employees, including lone workers. Since the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act of 2007, companies and organisations can be found guilty of corporate manslaughter as a result of serious management failures resulting in a gross breach of duty of care.
Peter Swan, MD of SBES, examines an often-overlooked issue
Lone working, which often takes place in isolated areas or at unsocial times, occurs across many different sectors including construction, labs, refineries, warehouses and data/server rooms. Safety of lone workers is vital for businesses, and employers have a responsibility to protect these workers, yet lone worker safety is an area that is often forgotten or neglected.