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.
Feet on the ground: Make smarter footwear choices to prevent slips, trips and falls in the workplace
Simon Ash, UK Sales Manager at HAIX, shares how selecting the right safety footwear can help reduce the risk of slips, trips and falls in the workplace
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) estimates that slips, trips and falls cost Britain £800 million annually, with the direct cost to employers at around £300 million. Falling victim to such accidents can increase the likelihood of workers developing serious injuries or debilitating longer-term health conditions such as Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) - the leading contributor to disability worldwide.
The burden slips, trips and falls put on worker health, organisational finances and the UK’s economy is devastating, yet it is preventable in many instances. Employers can take a proactive approach to prevent this kind of injury by ensuring their workforce wear supportive, high-quality, comfortable footwear as advances in safety footwear design have resulted in smarter, lighter and stronger materials that can combat the risks.
Safety boot sole units are often made from composites like Rubber/Polyurethane mixes that enhance durability and grip, providing stability and reducing chances of slipping even on surfaces covered in oil or petrol. Coupled with advanced ground impact cushioning that reduces strain on joints and muscles, designing safety footwear from ‘the sole up’ will be as integral to future Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) design as it is in today’s products.
HAIX, specialist manufacturer of functional safety footwear, understands that wellbeing starts from the feet up and investing in quality, compliant protective footwear can prevent accidents in the workplace.
Selecting the right footwear
Where floors cannot be kept clean and dry, slip-resistant footwear can help prevent slip accidents. When selecting safety footwear, the wearer should consider the level of slip resistance needed for their specific situation. For example, footwear that performs well in wetter conditions might not be suitable on oily surfaces. This can be determined through a proper risk assessment. Different models provide varying levels of resistance, for example, some models incorporate a special heel cup to offer extra stability.
Manufacturers should design safety footwear with a variety of surfaces in mind. HAIX footwear, for example, can help to maintain a secure grip when faced with steep slopes, wet roads or oil-covered floors in workshops because the outsoles are manufactured in a special abrasion-resistant rubber compound with a bold tread. In addition to selecting footwear with the right features, all footwear should be trialled to ensure it meets the need of the environment and the wearer.
HAIX safety footwear undergoes a series of over one hundred material and quality assurance tests, replicating the day-to-day challenges of its wearers, who spend most of their time on their feet. To ensure footwear is anti-slip, it is tested according to the main safety standard, EN ISO20345:2011, with specific codes for certain conditions:
• SRA – tested on ceramic tile wetted with dilute soap solution
• SRB – tested on smooth steel with glycerol
• SRC – tested under both the above conditions
Waterproof, breathable materials
Water-resistance and breathable, insulating materials are key because wet or hot feet may cause concentration levels to drop as the wearer becomes more concerned about their comfort than the job in hand. Distraction at work can lead to an accident, so providing waterproof, breathable footwear can reduce this risk. Waterproof boots adhere to the EN ISO standard: 20345/20347, the minimum European standard manufacturers should achieve. Boots that incorporate a Gore-Tex membrane with microscopic pores that are 20,000 times smaller than a drop of water exceed this standard and ensure footwear is watertight. To keep feet ventilated when working hard, uppers - the part of the shoe covering the top, sides, back and toes of the foot, should be made from appropriate leather or breathable material.
Anti-fatigue properties and comfort
A recurring complaint from those who wear safety footwear at work is plantar fasciitis, an acute pain in the heel caused by inflammation of the plantar fascia, which is prevalent among people who stand for long periods while at work, such as factory line workers. Damage to the plantar fascia is the leading cause of heel pain in adults and if left untreated, can lead to long-term health effects and pain that can negatively affect work concentration, increasing the likelihood of an accident.
Using advances in design influenced by biomechanics, footwear manufacturers can address such issues. A support system that supports the natural curvature of the foot, for example, can maintain a more natural foot position. This helps to reduce wearer fatigue, especially when boots are worn over long working periods, ensuring better overall bodily posture and acting to minimise long-term injury risk associated with standing at length. HAIX developed its CONNEXIS footwear range to help prevent plantar fascia damage and help reduce fatigue. The footwear features an innovative strap construction, called fascia tape, that runs around the foot and stimulates the fasciae and muscles in the foot sole to keep them elastic. Conventional shoes keep the foot rigid, and as a result, fasciae tend to become tight and inflexible because the tissue is not sufficiently stressed, leading to pain. However, the last of the HAIX CONNEXIS range is not curved downwards like conventional shoes but straight, ensuring that the ball of the foot does not sag, and the toes have more space to support the foot. Designed in collaboration with leading health and footwear technology experts, the shoe’s structure takes into account the foot’s natural shape and its need to move freely. Choosing comfortable, supportive footwear with anti-fatigue properties can not only reduce muscle and ligament stress but also minimise the risk of slips, trips and falls caused by difficulty concentrating or weariness.
Other issues long-term wearers face, such as lower leg fatigue induced by overall boot weight1, can also be countered by smart material choices; advances in materials like nanocarbon can produce toe caps and reinforced areas that meet the same safety and protection standards as steel caps but remain ultra-lightweight. Puncture-resistance in boot midsoles is often accomplished using metal, but advanced fabrics and textiles can be used to provide levels of puncture resistance while decreasing overall weight and increasing comfort and flexibility.
Taking safer steps
Wellbeing starts from the feet up and investing in quality, compliant protective footwear ensures workers are protected and able to perform at their best. The importance of footwear as a core element of protection should never be underestimated, especially as instances of slips and trips remain so high.
As workers look to manage the risk of slips, trips and falls at work, the importance of footwear as a core element of protection should never be underestimated. An investment in reliable, high-quality safety footwear is an investment in wearer health, comfort and safety.
For more information, go to www.haix.co.uk
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.
BSIF CEO Alan Murray explains why 2023 will see a greater focus on product safety, including increased scrutiny on the safety and compliance of goods sold by third-party sellers on online marketplaces.
The UK has always had a reputation for stringent product safety standards but with constant innovation and the rise of e-commerce many markets have become increasingly hard to regulate.
PPE is a case in point. The COVID pandemic highlighted how quickly substandard and potentially dangerous products can find their way onto the market with reports suggesting billions of pounds of public money were ultimately wasted on unusable PPE.
Unfortunately substandard PPE isn’t just a COVID problem. Unacceptable products have been finding their way on to UK marketplaces prior to COVID and continue to do so today.
This is illustrated by the BSIF’s latest analysis. As well as auditing the BSIF membership annually to verify their compliance and competence, we test a selection of PPE from non-BSIF members. Between December 2021 and December 2022, a total of 118 non-member products were tested. Only 15 (13%) of these products passed the test, with the results for five of the products still pending. This means 98 products (83%) failed to meet the test's criteria, many of which are still available and being sold to unsuspecting users.
These findings are in contrast with products supplied by BSIF Registered Safety Suppliers who are committed to only selling certified PPE and trading honestly and ethically
2023 will see the introduction of a new post-EU Product Safety Framework which will help to strengthen the rules around the sale of products including PPE. Timings for publication of the framework are still to be confirmed, but there will be a strong focus on improving the safety and compliance of goods sold by third-party sellers on online marketplaces. We expect to see stricter responsibilities for online vendors and harsher penalties for those who fail to comply.
At the same time, the Environmental, Social & Corporate Governance (ESG) agenda is having a growing impact. Companies looking to strengthen their ESG performance are closely scrutinising the credentials of their suppliers and choosing only to work with responsible companies. When it comes to buying PPE and safety equipment, many buyers now realise that specifying the BSIF’s Registered Safety Supplier Scheme is the easiest way to ensure they are only dealing with suppliers who are compliant, competent and trustworthy.
It’s therefore no surprise that we saw a significant number of public and private sector organisations mandate the Registered Safety Supplier Scheme for their supply chains in 2022. As the focus on products safety sharpens in 2023 we expect that number to increase.
For a full list of Registered Safety Suppliers, visit: https://www.registeredsafetysupplierscheme.co.uk/
When it comes to fall protection PPE (personal protective equipment), is compliance with legal standards enough? Alfonso Fernandez of MSA Safety explains why it pays to go the extra mile when protecting your employees.
PPE standards make a vital contribution to safety at work, by legally enforcing a reasonable level of quality and capability for all products. However, they do have limitations. For example, can they cover every possible workplace scenario, keep up with rapid changes taking place in industry, and adapt quickly enough to take recent PPE innovations into account?
Certification and standards processes in fall protection PPE
To understand these issues, we should first consider the process for certification. All fall protection PPE needs to be legally certified. New products are independently tested and quality-checked by an accredited third party known as a ‘notified body’. The standards against which PPE is assessed are decided, in the case of fall protection, by a committee of specialists in this area.
Every five years, the committee decides whether to continue with the same certification standards for another five years or to update them. In practice, a standard typically lasts for ten years. Some standards may stay in place for 15 or 20 years. In that time, there is scope for many things to change in the workplace and the PPE market.
When updated standards are introduced, employers are allowed to continue using older PPE which was bought when previous standards applied, provided they follow the manufacturer’s instructions. They will still be complying with legislation, but they should think carefully about whether a newer product will be safer for their teams.
While legal standards may change slowly or not at all, constant developments and breakthroughs are being made by fall protection PPE manufacturers in terms of new technologies, materials and designs. In addition to improving safety, these advances bring practical and productivity advantages. To benefit from these, and to maintain safety as their highest priority, buyers should not always wait for the law to change before upgrading their PPE. At all times, they should seek to be more than just compliant.
Making the decision easier when choosing the right fall protection PPE
For many businesses and PPE buyers, there is no lack of willingness to comply, and more, with fall protection legislation. Their problem is with the complexity of the rules, the quantity of documentation, and the difficulty in fully understanding what it all means for real-life applications. Any change in standards can add to the confusion. Meanwhile, they may feel bewildered by the information and choices offered by competing PPE suppliers.
As a result, businesses might find it difficult to know whether they are compliant, whether new PPE would be beneficial, and what PPE products would best meet their needs. Insufficient knowledge, biased advice, or misinformation from others with an incomplete understanding of the issues, can lead to indecision or wrong decisions.
Thankfully, there are good sources of information on evolving legislation and innovations in fall protection PPE, if you know where to look. Trade associations, training agencies and health and safety organisations, for instance, can help to keep you up to date. Look out, in addition, for webinars and seminars on fall protection. It’s also well worth finding PPE suppliers who you feel you can trustfor impartial guidance on whether and how to upgrade. Amongst other support, MSA provides easy-to-understand fact sheets and publications on the key issues to aid awareness.
One good example of an area with potential for misunderstanding is load capacity limits. The current EU standard for a body harness, which is an essential piece of fall protection PPE, is 100 kg. The user himself or herself may weigh under 100 kg, but we also need to consider the additional weight of heavy tools and other PPE. For this reason, MSA certifies its harnesses to 140 kg.
If the harnesses used by a business are several years old, they are likely to be certified to 100 kg. Their owner may be unaware that harnesses with the added safety factor of a 140 kg limit are now available and may therefore see no reason to upgrade.
When an old harness reaches the end of its service life, the owner will compare potential replacement products. Presented with two harnesses, both of which comply with the EU standard, he or she might logically choose the lower-priced product without looking for differencesin load capacity.
MSA’s other fall protection PPE products are similarly certified to 140 kg rather than the EU standard of 100 kg. They include fall arrest systems, such as self-retracting lifelines (SRLs). The same load capacity limit is applied to MSA temporary horizontal lifelines, tripodsandother anchorages. Clearly, all parts of a fall protection system need to have the same load capacity if weak links are to be avoided.
MSA provides clear and simple information with each product and system to help users understand how it should be used and in what circumstances. Crucially, this includes warnings on situations in which the load weight or other factors will make its use unsafe.
Time is money
A key gain to be made from upgrading fall protection PPE is savings in time. Every minute spent on activities other than the job in hand amounts to lost productivity. Donning, set-up, inspection and maintenance of PPE all take time. Any design improvement which reduces that lost time can be seen as an ongoing operational cost saver.Viewed from a different angle, any design improvement which makes safety procedures quicker and easier to perform helps ensure theyare alwayscarried out properly.
Correct use of a fall protection system is complicated by the interaction of its component parts. It may consist of, for instance, a harness, an SRL and a temporary horizontal lifeline. Each has a different set of features and functions, as well as its own certification. Each also has a user manual. Combining these elements optimally for each specific set of application circumstances can involve a lot of reading.
To simplify this process, MSA is now producing user-friendly system guidance, including charts with pre-calculated values, drawing together information from the separate manuals.This time-saving aid is available, for example, with MSA’s latest temporary horizontal lifeline.
The same product also illustrates how good design can save time on the physical setting up of a system. It can be deployed by a single worker, aided by its inbuilt, toolless locking and tensioning mechanisms. For absolute certainty, coloured indicators confirm when the device has been correctly locked and tensioned. The whole process is 75% faster than that of traditional cable systems.
A further bonus of clear guidance and simple procedures is that new users can learn to use a system very quickly. This saves on training time and budgets.
In addition, good design can simplify and speed up daily, pre-shift, annual and other periodic equipment checks and inspections. Combined with robust construction, it can also reduce servicing needs and downtime. MSA has developed quick maintenance procedures which allow some products to be routinely serviced in the field, rather than sent to a workshop.
The way PPE looks and feels is another area in which constant improvements are being made. The importance of these aspects must never be underestimated. Does the appearance of the harness and other PPE items worn by the worker make him or her feel awkward and self-conscious? Or has it been designed to make the wearer look and feel professional? Is it comfortable to wear, or is the user limited and distracted by it?
If the user doesn’t like wearing the item, there’s a risk that he or she will avoid using it – at least occasionally – and choose to work without protection. If its use causes discomfort or restriction of movement, the worker’s ability to carry out tasks effectively and safely may be compromised.
An important and worrying issue in this respect is that traditional PPE designs often fail to cater for the diversity of users. Workers’ sizes and body shapes vary greatly. There are also fundamental differences between men and women in terms of PPE design needs.
Arecent PPE survey1by the trade union Prospect highlighted this problem. It found, for instance, that 44.7% of female respondents but just 15.3% of male respondents reported poor-fitting overalls.This is just one simple example of a much wider difficulty which designers of fall protection and other PPE are working to address.
When comparing PPE products, you should think about the whole user experience felt by your employees – both shortterm and longterm. Does the PPE give a positive feeling, visually, ergonomically and comfort-wise? Does it help the wearer to do his or her job well? Do its design and operating features save time for the worker?
Is compliance enough?
Any consideration of fall protection measures should include a recognition that falling from heights is industry’s biggest cause of fatal accidents2 for workers.
Your fall protection PPE may be compliant, but does it have sufficient load capacity? Does it in any way hinder your workers and their productivity? Are they happy to wear it or are they sometimes tempted to skip its use? Could it be more robust? Is hanging on to your existing PPE, when improved products may now be available, a false economy?
MSA’s designers and engineers continue to push the boundaries of PPE durability and performance. The company regularly introduces new time-saving features, along with improvements in ergonomics, comfort and style. The result is a product range that does much more than comply with the latest legal standards – aimed at employers for whom safety is truly a priority.
To find out more, click here.
Leading UK PPE manufacturer Globus Group launches new reusable respiratory range for protection against workplace hazards
The new Alpha Sentinel range protects against some of the most dangerous respiratory hazards found in the workplace
The UK’s largest PPE manufacturer, Globus Group, has launched a new range of face masks to protect workers against extremely hazardous substances found in the workplace. The new design provides improved comfort and fit to help encourage good PPE compliance.
Prolonged exposure to hazardous substances over an extended period is known to be extremely harmful, with workers in the manufacturing industry at particularly high risk. It is estimated that each year an average of 33,000 workers suffer from illness caused or made worse by their current or most recent job in manufacturing[i].
The Alpha Sentinel range has been designed for superior fit and comfort for workers, especially those wearing the masks for long periods of time. Lead Product Designer Josh Moffat said, “When it came to designing the Alpha Sentinel range we really tried to prioritise the end-user. We know that workers are often wearing these masks for long periods of time, and so focusing on comfort and fit means that they are more likely to be worn correctly and workers can be confident that they are getting the right protection.
He continued, “Looking beyond fit and comfort, we know that another big reason for PPE non-compliance is masks getting too hot, so we have designed our unique large exhalation valve to minimise heat and moisture build-up. We really believe that the design innovations we have been able to make with the Alpha Sentinel masks are going to make a huge difference to the workers using these products every day.”
The Alpha Sentinel range comes with a range of changeable filters to protect against solid particulates, liquid particulates, gases, and vapours, and are suitable for use in a wide variety of industry settings.
The Alpha Sentinel full and half face masks are the first Globus product range to be designed and manufactured entirely in the UK. Globus has committed to manufacturing as many of its products as possible in the UK.
“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.”