Proper Lifting Techniques According to OSHA

At virtually any workplace involving physical labor, workers will need to know the proper lifting techniques so as not to harm their backs, legs, or other body parts. Just because a worker is strong enough to pick up an object, that does not mean that the act cannot result in injury. Luckily, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a set list of techniques for making lifting tasks more manageable; however, adherence to these guidelines isn’t always perfect. Figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2001 indicate that heavy lifting is in fact one of the leading causes of workplace injury. The statistics revealed that approximately 36 percent of injuries leading to missed work days were the result of shoulder and back injuries. The most significant contributing factors in such injuries were overexertion and cumulative trauma, which occur from not employing the proper techniques for heavy lifting.

While heavy lifting will always be physically impactful, prudent precautions and proper technique can ease the resulting strain on the body and help to prevent common injuries such as back sprains, muscle pulls, and injuries to the spine, elbow, and wrist. OSHA has issued a series of detailed recommendations to provide guidance for safe lifting techniques. Where such actions are necessary, following some of these simple tips may be a crucial step in preventing potentially debilitating injuries.

Ergonomic Movement

Safe lifting starts with the proper ergonomic techniques, according to OSHA. As a rule of thumb, it is best for workers to lift with their legs, although this may vary depending on the circumstance. Workers should do their best to pick up objects within their “power zone,” which may be defined as an area close to the body, between the worker’s mid-thigh and mid-chest. Workers should avoid stretching beyond the power “zone.” For instance, workers starting a lift below mid-thigh height put unnecessary stress on the legs, knees, and back. Meanwhile, completing a lift above shoulder-height can strain the upper back, arms, and shoulders. To properly lift an item from a lower location, workers should move the object close to their body and lift with their legs as a safety technique. OSHA recommends that workers should keep their bodies straight and avoid any awkward twisting while lifting heavy objects. It is also useful for workers to keep their elbows close to their sides in order to keep the heavy load as close to their bodies as possible. It may also be preferable for workers to bend at the waist instead of the knees to keep the load close.

Placement of Objects

Another important technique in properly lifting items begins with how the goods are stored. Any steps that minimize bending and reaching reduce strain on the back and other muscles involved with lifting. It is prudent for workers to store heavy objects on shelves and tables that are at least waist-height, to make them easier to access. Objects that will be frequently moved or retrieved should be placed at “power height” for optimal lifting convenience, according to OSHA’s technique guidelines.

Avoid Sustained or Repeated Exertion

Many lifting-related injuries are not the result of a single action performed without the proper OSHA-recommended techniques, but rather developed in response to regular or sustained exertion. Holding items for a long time in a particular position enhances the risk of injury as muscles are sapped of nutrients and waste products build up internally. Frequent, repeated exertion, such as yanking wire, fatigues muscles by not allowing recovery time. Workers can avoid these hazards by working in teams and rotating tasks so that no one worker is stuck doing the same thing for too long. Workers can also mount certain heavy items, such as fixtures, to avoid having to hold them excessively.

Whether your team engages in heavy lifting every day, or just on random occasions, teaching them the proper techniques according to OSHA can help everyone prevent unnecessary injuries on the job.

5 Easy Spring Work Safety Tips

Spring — with the sense of renewal, energy, and optimism that it brings — is the perfect time for cleaning and reorganizing. A tidy and presentable workplace facility presents a positive image of your company, and has been shown to boost employee conscientiousness, morale, and pride. Spring cleaning is also a great opportunity to reassess the safety of your work facility. Rejuvenate your facility this season with these spring safety tips.

Establish Safety Goals

The first spring tip is to occupy the right mindset and make safety your goal. Cultivate a belief that your workplace can always be safer, and there is no excuse for unsafe practices. Making a to-do list is a prudent next step. Before you dive into your spring cleaning safety project, it helps to have a clear picture of your goals and the particular steps you will take to go about achieving them, as well as a realistic timeframe for completing them. In your interactions with staff, demonstrate that you value worker safety to make sure they know that it is a top priority and that you are not simply paying lip service to the concept. For instance, praise workers for following safety regulations, and follow them yourself without exception.

Offer Training Refreshers

The season of renewal is a good opportunity to retrain your staff on safe workplace practices. Remember common sense isn’t always common practice. Even the most seasoned worker may need a reminder about how to perform his or her job with the proper precautions. Whether it’s how to properly insert ear plugs or what to do in case of a fire, reiterating safety tips is especially helpful in the spring when warm weather begins to present new working environments. If the season brings new hiring, be sure to hire smart; make sure new hires are competent enough to work safely and have the right attitude toward safe work practices. It may also be helpful to solicit workers’ concerns about safety in the facility and to act on their suggestions. They are the ones in the trenches, after all.

Check Equipment Quality

If you expect employees to work safely, you must make sure they have the appropriate tools. Inspect all workplace equipment and tools to make sure they are functioning properly. Consult the products’ maker to check that you are up to date with the latest information about using the devices safely, and to see whether any are due for official inspection or replacement. Also, inspect personal protective equipment (PPE) and other safety gear to make sure that it complies with OSHA regulations and recommendations, as well as more general safety standards. Replace any PPE that you provide yourself, such as work gloves, that have become worn with frequent use over the previous weeks or months.

Watch Out For Facility Hazards

Inspect the work facility itself as well. You will want to see that there are no obvious hazards and that the facility is organized in the most sensible way. For example, make sure that any storage areas are arranged tidily so that employees know to put materials in their designated spaces and do not leave them lying around to become trip hazards. Check that boxes and equipment are not stacked in such a way that they may tumble and cause injury. Note whether there is sufficient signage providing workers’ instruction on safe work practices and proper use of equipment. This spring safety tip can help keep your workplace accident-free and productive.

Start Taking Notes

Maintain records of any safety mishaps that occur. Where any incident occurs, even if it does not result in serious injury, perform an investigation to discover why it happened and to determine how to prevent it from happening again. Dutifully note all first aid treatments, inspections, incident investigations, and safety training activities in your record books. Make sure that these safety records are well-maintained, organized and easily legible for quick reference or inspection.

Following these spring safety tips should, at the very least, act as a great starting point for your journey to a safer workplace this season. Let’s get to it!

The Best Gear & Safety Tips For Working in the Rain

Nobody likes waking up to a downpour on a weekday. But with the right rain safety tips, you won’t have to let a little drizzle stop you from getting in a hard day’s work. When soggy weather strikes, make sure you have the right gear at the ready. Utilizing effective products not only helps keep you dry and comfortable, it also protects you from the safety hazards created by wet conditions. OSHA requires that employers pay for personal protective equipment, including rain gear. As spring brings in those April showers, don’t skimp on safety: stock up on these key rain wear products and keep these tips in mind.

Waterproof Boots

Your basic, go-to protective work boot should always be waterproof. Boots made from natural or treated leather stay sturdy in damp weather. Your boots should also have thick rubber soles with sturdy grips to help prevent slippage. Slips and falls are some of the most common workplace accidents and can lead to serious and costly injury, particularly when working from heights. Surfaces, especially common industrial work surfaces, such as metal, can become slippery in the wet conditions. A good, well-made pair of waterproof work boots can help ensure your safety in the rain. (Plus, it’s no fun working in damp socks.)

Waterproof Gloves

A hammer that slips through your fingers can be damaging to your toes, or, worse, the head of a coworker below you. Prevent the precipitation from giving you a slippery grip with a pair of waterproof palm coated work gloves. For extra protection, select a variety with added features such as “gripper dots” on the interior. Nylon and pigskin leather are reliable, breathable materials for waterproof gloves. For cold winter conditions, select a thicker variety with fleece lining for added warmth. For precision work, chose a close-to-the-hand-fit. Whatever variety you select, this is one rain safety tip that can make working with your hands so much easier.

Rain Suits

For steady downpours, it’s best to suit up with heavy duty rain gear. Cover your full exterior with a long waterproof jacket. Unless you like wet jeans, it’s best to add waterproof pants as well. For outdoor work such as construction, landscaping, trades or resources, rain suits are an absolute necessity. They are available in different materials, and the kind you ought to select is often a question of personal preference.

Nylon and polyester rain gear is breathable, so you won’t get too hot. It’s also lightweight and flexible, so it’s easy to pack up and throw on in a pinch. However, the convenience is offset by the fact that it is not always 100 percent waterproof after it has been soaked for a while, so the clothes you wear underneath may wind up damper than you would like. The alternative option is PVC. PVC rain gear is essentially a cotton or polyester shell that’s coated on the outside with a material similar to rubber. Models made from PVC is heavier, thicker, and slightly more cumbersome. On the plus side, its thickness makes it more durable, and it is completely immune to being soaked through. PVC is often the best choice for long-term, heavy-duty jobs.

Water Repellent

Waterproof gear is the first and most crucial step. But for added protection, or when protected gear just isn’t available, spray or lightly smear a silicone-based water repellent on any fabric or non-patent leather fibers — such as boots, gloves, and belts — that will be facing rain exposure.
Making sure you have the best waterproof gear is the first step to ensuring injury-free work in inclement weather. However, one of the most important rain safety tips is to work carefully and at a slow, yet steady pace. Even the most advanced equipment can’t mitigate the risks of sloppy procedures. Make sure all your employees are aware of best practices for doing their unique jobs in the rain.

Work Boot Care: 4 Tips for Extending the Life of Your Footwear

At the end of a hard day on the job, nothing has been hit as hard as your work boots. They protect your feet from dropped tools, falling debris and flying sparks, and they trudge through dirt, dust, mud, rocks and whatever substances your workplace might throw at your feet. Outdoors, they fend off rain, snow, ice, slush and all of nature’s toughest elements, keeping your feet dry all the while. Repay the favor with these tips for proper work boot care.
To start with, take care to select a strong, quality leather work boot that’s tough yet comfortable. This is not a piece of work equipment you’ll want to skimp on. Good protective work boots aren’t cheap, but a well-made pair can, with the right care, provide quality foot protection for a couple of years, even with frequent hard use. Follow these four tips to extend the life of your most important footwear.

1. Clean the Exterior

Like work gloves or other protective apparel that regularly sees a lot of action, your footwear requires consistent external care. Remove any visible dirt, grime or debris from the work boot at the end of each day. This may seem like a no-brainer, but many people wait too long to clean their shoes. As a result, certain material that may be stuck to the boot, such as mud and concrete, can harden over time, making it more difficult to remove, discoloring the shoe’s exterior, and even negatively impacting the boot’s performance.

2. Break Out That Oil

Oiling your work boots with great care is possibly the most important step in maintaining them, but it is also one of the most neglected. The oiling process is easy, so there is no excuse for skipping this step. Choosing a quality boot oil product, such as mink oil, is just as important as selecting a quality shoe. Apply softly, using your hands or a small boot brush. Be sure to rub in well at the seams. Allow to dry for a few minutes, then wipe off any excess oil with a soft towel or rag. Oiling your boots will improve the performance, appearance and comfort of your footwear. Take care to oil your work boots at regular intervals for a surprisingly long shelf life. For a polished appearance, buff the leather afterwards with a soft rag using long, circular strokes.

3. Weatherproof

Many of the better boot brands contain weatherproof exteriors and interiors made from materials such as Gor-tex for high-performance in wet conditions. However, over time, your cold weather work boots could use some care to ensure they stay as dry as possible. Remove the insoles and coat the interior of the boot with a weatherproofing spray and spray around the lace area as well. This step is particularly important during winter months when you may be wearing your boots steeped in snow or standing water for extended periods.

4. Store Your Boots Properly

Properly storing your work boots when you are not using them can significantly extend their life. Putting a shoetree inside the boot helps to maintain its shape and smooth out the lining and insoles, enhancing the boot’s comfort and appearance. Shoetrees can also break in new footwear, helping to prevent the discomfort and blisters that often accompany the first few wearings of a new pair. A cedar shoetree provides the additional benefit of wicking action, absorbing moisture, acids and salts from the shoe’s interior, helping to ensure a dry boot. If you are working several days a week, you should own at least two pairs of boots, and rotate wearing them daily. This kind of care helps to extend the life of each pair, and ensures that the work boots have sufficient time to dry between each use.

Preventing Slips and Falls in the Workplace

All it takes is a moment’s inattention. Someone calls our name, something out of the corner of our eye catches our attention, we switch our glance away from where we’re going for a second, and BAM! — we slip on some spilled liquid or trip on a rogue object and fall flat. However, preventing slips and falls in the workplace can be fairly simple with the right tools. On the surface, trips may not seem like the most worrisome workplace accidents. Common causes of slips, such as uneven flooring, may not be noticeable or may not seem particularly hazardous — especially in work environments that feature more blatant dangers, such as industrial worksites. But ignore such dangers at your peril!

The Cost of Workplace Slips

Without adequate prevention measures, slips, trips, and falls can lead to serious, even debilitating injury, as well as loss of workplace productivity and steep cost. In fact, such tumbles constitute the majority of general industry accidents and lead to nearly 8.6 million visits to the emergency room annually. Recordable slips and falls lead to 11 days away from work and $40,000 per incident, on average. They are also a common source of costly and time-consuming lawsuits. Protect your workplace by following these steps to prevent dangerous slips.

Fall Training

One of the most important steps to preventing slips and falls in the workplace is to train your employees. Knowledge is often the best safeguard against danger, while ignorance is often the cause of preventable accidents. Teach your employees to look out for and report common hazards. In workspaces where spills are common, such as kitchens, it may be prudent to advise or require employees to wear non-slip shoes.

Inspect Your Workplace

Perform a thorough assessment of your workplace with an eye toward any existing or potential slip and fall hazards that can be prevented. As a general rule, it is important to ensure that your facility is well organized and uncluttered. This will make inspection for hazards easier, and will reduce the chance of stray objects, such as tools, winding up on the floor where they don’t belong, creating a slip waiting to happen.

For a start, mark any uneven floor surfaces, such as areas where the floor changes gradation to an upward slant, with bright, photoluminescent warning tape. Also, use prominent labels to denote spaces for proper equipment storage to keep them from turning pathways into inadvertent obstacle courses. At construction and industrial sites, it is a good idea to use anti-skid floor tape to add traction to slippery surfaces, such as metal. Non-slip safety matting is also a good solution for creating traction on otherwise slick walkways. The stairs are a particularly common site of preventable falls, so be sure to make stair treads as slip-resistant as possible. Consider marking your stairs with anti-skid cleats.

Brighten Up

Poor lighting is correlated with increased accidents in the workplace. Preventing such accidents begins by making sure that all areas are properly lit so that employees can see where they are going and that any emergent slip and fall hazards, such as stray objects or cracks in the ground, are highly visible. Whatever the workspace, there is no excuse for insufficient lighting.

Where there is a temporary slip hazard, such as a spill that needs to be mopped up or an area of floor or ground under construction, cordon off the area with bright barricade tape or post cones or floor stands in strategic positions around the area. In regions of the workplace where there is a more general or long-term risk, be sure to post prominent signage to warn employees of the danger.

Be Consistent With Maintenance

It is helpful to establish a routine for speedily detecting and cleaning up any spills or leaks that occur in order to prevent consequential slips and falls. This is especially critical in workplaces that truck in a lot of liquid around. Do not attempt to clean up oil-based spills with water, since that will only widen the slippery area. Stay stocked with necessary spill containment equipment such as mops, sponges and absorbent pads.

Slips off of scaffolds and ladders can pose an even higher risk of injury than slips on the floor. Regularly inspects scaffolds and ladders to ensure that they are sturdy and safe. Inspection tags can help by marking the date of the last inspection, the name of the employee who conducted it and the date when the next inspection is due. As the latter date approaches, keep an eye peeled for any signs of wear and proceed with due caution.

After you have performed the recommended alterations to your workplace, keep preventing falls and slips by conducting regular inspections to ensure that the facility has maintained the new safety levels you have achieved.

5 Surprising Scenarios That Require Respiratory Protection

Everyone knows that respiratory protection is crucial to the health and even survival of workers in many fields. Where toxic materials, such as gas or chemicals, are present, heavy-duty coverage, in the form of a respirator kit, for instance, is a legal, ethical, (and sometimes mortal) necessity. But many more situations than one might expect call for breathing protection. Here are five perhaps unpredictable examples of scenarios requiring respiratory protection, some of which anyone might encounter in the ordinary course of life.

Being Sick

Around cold and flu season, have you ever noticed people going about their day wearing healthcare masks covering their nose and mouth? You might imagine they used this respiratory protection to save themselves from breathing in airborne pathogens. On the contrary, it is more likely they were trying to protect you, and everyone else, from catching a bug they were battling themselves. Surgical masks are designed to trap respiratory secretions (including bacteria and viruses) expelled by the wearer and prevent disease or virus transmission to others. Masks prevent the spread of flu in the workplace and beyond by stopping the wearer’s cough or sneeze from spraying droplets on those around them. Wearing a mask for respiratory protection around the workplace when ill is a considerate step that may help stymy the spread of bothersome contagions.

Disaster Relief

Disasters such as hurricanes, floods and fires turn once-sturdy structures into debris, and such particulates call for significant respiratory protection in the form of dust mask respirators. In addition to wearing the proper work gloves, volunteers or employees who are cleaning out debris or recouping homes should be cautious of the inhalable airborne particles, such dust and mold spores that are stirred up when buildings are knocked down or grow when they are waterlogged. Such inhalable materials can produce coughing or breathing problems, particularly for those with allergies or asthma. Additionally, clean-up crews should protect their eyes from such harmful objects with a durable pair of safety glasses. Workers should be sure to use respiratory protection, especially around older homes, which may contain asbestos and lead-based paint that may be breathed in as dust.


As healthful as a breath of fresh air might be, it can also pose hazards in the form of allergens. From pollen to ragweed to spores from various trees, grasses and molds, the natural world, while beautiful, is full of things that can make us sniffle and sneeze – or worse – without the right respiratory protection. A day of gardening or landscaping can lead to severe reactions in those who suffer from even mild seasonal allergies. Those using powerful mechanical equipment such as lawnmowers or hedge trimmers are at particular risk, as such machines stir up large clouds of inhalable allergens around their operators. A filtering mask or respirator can help ensure that a day in the garden remains pleasant or a hard day’s work outside less burdensome.


There are dozens of welding safety tips you should know before undertaking any such task and respiratory protection is certainly one of them. Welding, or the process of joining metals by causing coalescence using a source of intense heat, can be a dangerous job. However, the hazards one typically associates with the process most likely relate to the high temperatures, flammable sparks and arc flashes it can produce. One might not realize that welding creates metal fumes that pose an equally real danger when inhaled. To avoid lung damage, prudent workers wear a welding respirator for breathing protection. Disposable respirators, which are small enough to fit under protective welding helmets, are a popular choice.

Working with Animals

Those who work with animals may develop debilitating allergies to them over time. While some estimate that as many of 15 percent of the human population is allergic to some animal species, the estimate is as high as 40 percent for those who regularly work with animals as part of their occupation, such as researchers or animal care providers. Asthma sufferers in particular put themselves at health risk by working with animals they are allergic to. Experts recommend wearing some form of respiratory protection, such as a ventilated hood, when working directly with animals one is allergic to. When not wearing a hood, workers should wear an approved NIOSH certified N95 respirator when in the animal facility.

How the Right Type of Ear Plug Can Save Your Hearing

Annually, about 30 million individuals in America are exposed to hazardous noise at their place of work. Without the presence of ear plugs, such exposure can wreak serious damage on workers’ hearing. For more than a quarter of a decade, occupational hearing loss has been listed as one of the nation’s most prevalent occupational health concerns. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that since 2004, approximately 125,000 workers have suffered significant, permanent hearing loss as a result of occupational exposure to high noise levels. Short-term exposure to loud noise can produce temporary loss or disabling of hearing, or it may produce tinnitus (a ringing in the ears). Exposure to high levels of noise can also cause permanent, irreversible hearing loss, remediable by neither hearing aids nor surgery. The risk of permanent damage is greater with repeated or regular exposure, as at a noisy workplace.

Wearing the right type of ear plugs can help to preserve your hearing ability in both the short and the long term. If the noise or sound level at your workplace exceeds 85 decibels (A-weighted), you are at risk of hearing damage without earplugs. If you have to shout to be heard by a coworker standing at arm’s length, or if you experience a ringing or humming in your ears after leaving work, it is a sure sign that the noise level is high enough at your place of work to make ear plugs a wise choice.

To ensure comfort and hearing protection, select the right type of ear plug for you and your particular working environment. Ear plugs — as distinguished from other hearing protection devices (HPDs), such as industrial protective ear muffs — are inserted directly into the ear canal. Plugs are generally inexpensive and simple to use. Also, ear plugs are often more comfortable to wear than muffs or noise canceling electronic headsets, particularly in hot or damp work areas.

Pre molded ear plugs are preformed and rigid, typically made from plastic. This type is often mass-produced to fit any ear, though such plugs will generally fit some ears more effectively than others. Customized plugs molded from plastic to form your own ear canal can provide improved comfort and hearing protection. Premolded ear plugs are often reusable.

Moldable ear plugs, typically made of foam, adjust their shape to cleave to the walls of the ear canal of whoever is wearing them. They are also softer than pre-molded ear plugs, and so may be more comfortable to wear. Moldable ear plugs are available in multiple sizes to fit different ear canals, and they can provide the highest level of hearing protection. This particular type is disposable.

Hearing bands feature ear plugs are held over the ends of the canal by a rigid headband. They do not penetrate as deeply, and so do not provide the same level of protection as other kinds of ear plugs. They are similar to other types of protection, like corded ear plugs, in that they keep both ends of the device together at all times, lowering the potential for loss. This type of ear plug is easier to remove, and so it may be a preferable choice where noise will be only intermittent.

Earplugs and other HPDs can be a crucial part of a workplace’s effective hearing conservation program, but they should not constitute the worker’s only defense against noise. Several engineering and administrative controls can and should be put into place to reduce the amount of hazardous noise at the workplace. It is the employer’s duty to ensure that the workplace noise level does not exceed the legal limit, determined by OSHA, of 90 dBA over an 8-hour day. Where noise levels approach the limit, employers should take measures to minimize the hearing loss risks faced by workers. For instance, where applicable, employers can reduce sound by maintaining and lubricating noisy equipment, enclosing or isolating the source, and limiting the amount of time workers spend near the originator.

Where ear plugs are called for, the best type for you may vary depending on the individual. OSHA requires employers to offer a “variety of suitable hearing protectors” to noise-exposed workers. Studies have shown that workers who choose their own versions often have improved hearing protection. If one type of plug doesn’t work for you, try another — it could save your hearing!

How to Choose the Best Work Gloves for the Job

People have been relying on work gloves for thousands of years, and today a pair of gloves remains as sturdy and practical a tool as any a worker might utilize. New technological advances have produced gloves thick enough to provide adequate protection for dangerous work while allowing enough dexterity for precise movement. Manufacturers have also made strides in designing work gloves comfortable enough that workers will be less tempted to forego wearing them. Even so, more than one third of all workplace accidents involve hand injuries, costing companies more than $300 million per year according to OSHA Fact Sheet 93-03. The best work gloves for a specific task are essential to protecting employees, as well as companies’ bottom lines.

Every worker knows the importance of picking the best tool for the job, and gloves are like any other tool in that respect: you’ll need the right pair at hand in order to achieve your work goals while protecting yourself correctly. The wrong glove choice, or the decision to work without gloves, could result in injury and its attendant negative effects, such as loss of productivity, decreased employee morale, and higher medical and worker’s compensation costs. Risks workers face that the right gloves can prevent range from skin absorption of harmful substances to cuts and lacerations, severe abrasions, punctures, chemical and thermal burns, and extremes of heat and cold. As the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) states in its hand protection standard 1910.128, the responsibility rests with employers to ensure that the best type of glove is always available for the workplace.

Work gloves made from old reliable standards, such as cotton cloth and leather are useful for many tasks that pose a risk of cuts, punctures or abrasions. Product assembly and material handling require dexterity and tactile sensitivity, which leather work gloves or those made from cotton blends or canvas are best at providing while also protecting the worker from the hazards their tasks pose. Heavier-gauge (thicker)variations provide more hand protection but less sensitivity than thinner-gauge gloves, so the appropriate type should be selected based on the type of work as well as the nature of the hazards present.

Construction workers may deal with heavier and more abrasive materials, and are at risk from wood and metal splinters as well as cuts, scrapes and repetitive motion injuries. Sufficiently thick leather gloves and gloves made from Kevlar or other advanced polymers are necessary for such heavy-duty work. Workers who will be exposed to extreme temperatures, such as those who pack frozen foods, should wear work gloves that insulate against cold temperatures.

Multi-purpose work gloves, which allow for enough dexterity and tactility for a wide range of tasks while providing protection from various kinds of hazards, are often the best option for laborers. Having one sturdy pair rather than a different pair for each type of tasks makes it more convenient for the worker and reduces the risk that he or she will use the wrong kind of glove. By sticking with one flexible pair, the worker will not be at risk of taking off one pair and then forgetting or declining to put on the next when changing tasks.

Workers who handle or are at risk of exposure to hazardous liquids should wear chemical resistant gloves made from synthetic materials. Many liquid chemicals will simply eat through gloves made from more traditional materials, putting the worker at risk for serious burns and other hazards. Glove materials that may provide protection against chemicals include nitrile, latex, neoprene, polyvinylchloride, or other polymers. Nitrile gloves, where appropriate, are the safest option for workers with latex allergies. The glove material and thickness should be selected based on its resistance to the specific chemical or chemicals that are being dealt with. Each chemical’s Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) should provide guidance on selecting the right type of glove. A combination of multiple types may need to be worn simultaneously where the worker faces hazards from more than one chemical.

In addition to selecting the best kind of glove, it is also crucial to inspect gloves before each use to ensure that they will be effective and are not, for instance, worn down or torn. Gloves exposed to contaminants, such as toxic chemicals, must be decontaminated using the appropriate procedures prior to reuse. It is often safer and more cost-effective to replace synthetic gloves rather than attempt to reuse them. All types of work gloves should be replaced regularly, as the integrity of the item is inevitably undermined through use.

Whatever the material, the employer should be aware that gloves must be properly fitted to the individual worker in order for the product to work properly. Gloves that are too loose or too tight may leave exposed areas of skin, produce discomfort or reduce dexterity. Employers may benefit from seeking employee feedback on the efficacy of the gloves used in the workplace as well as what kinds of gloves the workers would most prefer to use. The right pair of work gloves not only protects workers and allows them to function at a high rate of productivity, but also is also comfortable enough that workers will gladly use them without hesitation.

7 Welding Safety Tips You Need to Know Before Firing Up

Welding is the most widely used method for joining metals in today’s metalworking industries. It is highly effective, with welded joints often being stronger than the original separate pieces from which they were formed. However, the intense process of melting down and fusing metal brings up several welding safety issues. Whether gas welding, arc welding, oxygen cutting or arc cutting, welders face dangers such as burns, smoke, fumes, powerful heat and light radiation, and harmful dust. But, when a welder follows the appropriate safety steps, he can weld with confidence. Be mindful of these seven tips before firing up the flame.

1) Always wear a welding mask. Welding requires the worker to keep his face right up close to the welding site as he carefully performs his skilled task. The worker must thus wear proper personal protective equipment (PPE) for the face at all times for safety purposes and to prevent harm from radiant energy as well as weld sparks and splatter. Either a full helmet or a hand shield (handheld iron face protector) may be appropriate depending on the type of welding. Helmets and hand shields protect against arc rays, sparks and splatters that may strike directly against the shield during welding.

2) Protect your eyes. The eyes are at particular risk during the welding process, as serious, permanent damage may occur from any small spark or weld splatter making contact with the eye if the proper safety tips are not followed. Additionally, the eyes are at risk from the intense light that is created by the welding process. Arc flash, a painful eye condition, can result from only a second or two of unprotected eye exposure to arc rays. Helmets and shields should be equipped with a filter shade with an appropriately dark lens. Auto-darkening helmets are useful, as they can quickly adjust based on light conditions. A further layer of eye protection, such as goggles, should be worn to protect against impact hazards such as slag chips and grinding fragments that may ricochet under the helmet.

3) Wear the right clothing. Welding clothing should fully cover your body to guarantee safety. Ultraviolet and infrared rays can painfully damage any exposed skin. All garments should be flame resistant clothing. For instance, denim should be worn as opposed to cotton pants. A welder should wear a welding jacket made of flame-resistant cloth or leather, which offer surefire protection while also providing ease of movement. Heavy-duty welding gloves, which are now available with ergonomically curved fingers, should be worn at all times. Some kind of protective footwear should be worn, such as high-top leather boots to provide the best shielding.

4) Don’t give sparks space to catch. When preparing to weld, a welder should go over all clothing as a safety precaution to check whether there are any small spaces on his person where sparks might catch. Button up shirt collars, cuffs and pockets to avoid giving sparks a place to land and smolder, which may potentially lead to serious burns. Pants legs should go over shoes, and gloves over sleeves. Also, do not carry any lighters or matches, which may ignite when they come into contact with sparks or heat. Cover any garments that are not fireproof with the proper gear, like a welding apron or protective sleeves.

5) Ventilate the workspace. Welding creates smoke and fumes which may accumulate in a workspace and render the air toxic, particularly in confined spaces. Where a workspace is not large enough for natural ventilation to be sufficient, with at least 10,000 square feet of space per welder, then the workspace should contain a means of mechanical ventilation. Either a functioning exhaust hood or a high-vacuum system should be employed to eliminate fumes and maintain enough safely breathable air for all workers. Certain materials may also require additional PPE such as welding respirators to ensure your breathing safety.

6) Know your machine. While basic processes may be similar between different machines, the welder should always know the particular machine he is working with at any given time inside and out. Anyone who uses a machine should consult its manual to understand the mechanics and the particular recommended safety procedures recommended by the manufacturer. This may lead to more efficient as well as safer welding. Maintain a copy of the manual in the workspace for reference.

7) Make safety an ingrained part of the company culture. Proper safety should not be an occasional area of focus in a workplace. Rather, it should be everyone’s first priority and at the forefront of every welder’s mind. Employers should ensure that every employee is familiar with the appropriate safety tips and procedures, and welders should look out for each other to make sure they are always wearing all necessary PPE. With the right knowledge, welding accidents are highly preventable.

5 Confined Space Safety Risks and How to Avoid Them

While the dangerous nature of confined spaces may not be as readily apparent as that of other kinds of workplace safety risks, tightly enclosed areas can, in fact, be fatal. One may encounter confined spaces in virtually any workplace or occupation. Larger industrial or agricultural worksites are particularly likely to contain confined spaces. And unlike other workplace risks that can be mitigated with personal protective equipment like work gloves or safety glasses, this danger requires an entire set of external gear. According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), a space is “confined” if its configuration hinders the activities of employees who must enter, work in, and exit it. For instance, if employees must squeeze in an out or perform their tasks while cramped or contorted, certain risks may arise. The elements of confinement, limited access and restricted airflow, can result in hazardous conditions that would not occur in an open workspace. Identification of confined spaces, application of confined space equipment and recognition of the danger these areas pose is the first and most important step to preventing injuries and fatalities. The following are five of the most common and hazardous confined space safety risks.

1-Oxygen Deficiency

Asphyxiation is the leading cause of death in confined spaces, and a lack of oxygen within the space is the most common cause of confined-space asphyxiation. There is simply less oxygen available within any given confined space than in an open space, and hazards from this oxygen deficiency can occur when there are too many workers in the limited area at once or when a worker has been in the space for too long. Some confined spaces are so naturally oxygen-deficient that workers should not be in them for more than a few minutes at a time otherwise they risk serious safety issues. The proper ventilation products, like confined space blowers, should always be used in such environments.


The air in a confined space is sometimes be toxic, containing chemicals or fumes that may lead to deleterious health effects in the long or the short term. Alongside oxygen deficiency, a toxic atmosphere is the leading cause of asphyxiation in confined spaces. Hazardous vapors which might safely dissipate in open air may accumulate in a confined space, creating a harmful, high-risk atmosphere.

3-Getting Stuck

The cramped working environments that personnel in confined spaces face; the even smaller spaces within the confined space that they may have to squeeze through; and the physical contortions they often must put their bodies through can lead to getting stuck. Even where there is enough oxygen in a confined space to make working there safe for a set period of time, the low level of oxygen present relative to open spaces can mean that being stuck there for many hours can lead to oxygen deprivation. Additionally, there is the risk of slipping or falling into tight spaces, such as tapering discharge pipes in water towers, and asphyxiating from the resulting compression of the torso.

4-Uncontrolled Release of Energy

Often, a confined space exists parallel with other hazardous conditions. Risks such as the uncontrolled release of electricity, high-pressure fluids and gases, or mechanical energy often occur in confined spaces. Such uncontrolled releases are even more destructive in confined than in open spaces.

5-Risks from Failure to De-energize Equipment

Employees who work inside pieces of large equipment performing maintenance, repair or related tasks face a particular set of safety risks from the equipment itself. OSHA has documented many tragic incidents involving confined spaces in which victims were burned, ground up by auger type conveyors or battered by rotating parts inside mixers.

OSHA states that confined spaces that contain or have the potential to contain a serious atmospheric hazard such as those listed above should be officially classified as permit-required confined spaces. As such, they should always be tested for the presence of such atmospheric hazards prior to workers entering them. Once employees have entered a confined space, the space’s atmosphere should be continuously monitored to ensure that it remains safe. It is important that confined spaces be as well ventilated as possible in order to provide sufficient oxygen and discourage the accumulation of toxic gases. Employers should be mindful of coexisting hazards such as electrical energy, and should ensure that all equipment within the area is properly de-energized. A worker should never enter a confined space alone; there should always be a buddy or a monitor present. In the event of a confined space emergency, there should always be a rescue plan in place ahead of time. Perhaps most importantly, workers should only be in confined spaces for a restricted period of time.