Archive for September 29, 2017

The New PELTOR Alert

The PELTOR line of headsets from 3M offers some of the most impressive and advanced hearing protection you’ll find on the market. PELTORs are used in all kinds of high-volume environments, from the construction yard to the battlefield. The latest addition to the line, however, is for more casual use with a price to match. Say hello to the Alert.


The PELTOR Alert headset is an active protection product, which you’ll remember means that it features sophisticated noise sensitivity technology that allows you to hear sound below the threshold of danger. This makes it perfect for, say, the shooting range where you may want to talk to your friend but don’t want to take your protection off while other people are firing more or less at random. Another good application would be when you’re out mowing the lawn, which involves belligerent noise yet hasn’t received much attention from the safety community. Why would you want to wear a silly-looking headset while you’re out in your front yard? Because the Alert is so much more than that.


For the first time, 3M is including extra features to make PELTOR more appealing to the general market. What makes the Alert ideal for leisure activities rather than the workplace is its media-playing capabilities. The headset itself has a built-in FM radio that you can use to tune into your favorite stations, with a knob that raises and lowers the volume/radio signal (max volume of 82 decibels) and another that turns ambient noise up and down, giving you complete control over what you hear. Noises from outside come in through the environmental microphones in the front, which instantly cut out if they detect noise that is too loud. The radio is advanced enough that it can sense the strength or weakness of the radio signal, and switch from stereo to mono to optimize the reception. The antenna is sturdy but flexible, and can pick up signal even in harsh conditions.


Not only that, but there’s a headphone jack that can connect to your MP3 player, phone, or whatever portable media device you prefer, and the sound quality will impress even the pickiest audiophiles, with a rich low end that makes it great for your favorite bass-heavy tunes. The radio is also compatible with headset kits that allow for set-to-set communication, if your situation calls for it.


Let’s be frank: a typical workplace that requires hearing protection at this level doesn’t want its employees listening to music or radio on the job. If the environment is making that much noise, your job probably requires a bit of focus to do safely and responsibly. This is a product intended primarily for leisure activities that involve hazardous noise levels. Some may say that it’s outside the purview of what a site like ours should be selling, but we serve the sportsman as well as the workman alike, and it’s not outlandish to imagine that someone would want the same great hearing protection at play that they get at work. The Alert is here to meet that need.

Introduction to Eye Protection, Pt. 2

This is the second part of a quick look at the eye protection we offer here at Enviro, and today the focus will be on more advanced protection products. Certain jobs call for more than just simple safety glasses or goggles. Welding in particular is an activity that requires full face and eye protection. This most typically takes the form of a mask with a small window through which the worker sees what they’re doing.


Since welding gives off an insanely dangerous amount of light, it’s imperative that the window in the shield have some kind of built-in technology to lessen the glare. Improper protection can lead to a painfully inflamed cornea (known as “arc eye”). Like with hearing, welding protection can be either active or passive. Passive protection was standard for decades and is still common. An experienced welder can fare just fine by positioning the welder with the helmet up, then flipping it down with a head motion to begin the weld. This requires enough room to lift the helmet, and the constant lifting and dropping can obviously be tedious. The auto-darkening filter (ADF) has led the charge in making welding faster and more comfortable since its introduction to the market in 1981.


3M leads the pack with their ADF technology, which can be found in their Speedglas line of welding helmets. The diversity of function in the Speedglas helmets is impressive, with some offering a fresh air supply system for hot and strenuous work. 3M’s ADF reduces the amount of light coming into the lens within 0.1 milliseconds of it detecting brightness above the safety threshold. Once the welder is off, the filter immediately reverts to its previous state. The filters also feature preset shade levels for different metals and welding processes. The precision of the technology allows you to see exactly what you’re doing when it counts. Many accessories are also available, including battery chargers, breathing tubes, replacement shields, and protection plates to prevent damage to the mask. These products aren’t cheap, but every welder knows that you can’t do the job without your eyes, so it’s worth it to go the extra mile to protect them, however inconvenient that may seem.


Also available are low-tech face shields that either come with a headband or attach to a hard hat. These shields simply come down over the face and prevent contact with hazardous material. Whether it’s bodily fluid, chemicals, or just general debris, a cheap and convenient face shield is often enough to ward off whatever’s coming your way. Which one you buy depends on your needs. Do you need a bunch of high-quality in bulk? Paulson’s medical face shield (PAUIDC/F) is a good option. It was highly popular during the Ebola crisis of 2014, for obvious reasons. The Uvex bionic face shield (UVXS8500) is a self-contained shield that provides excellent coverage and comfort, with an easily replaceable lens. These are just two of the options, and you can explore the site for many more.


Obviously, face protection is closely related to head protection, which is what we’re going to look at next time. Watch this space, and stay safe.

Introduction to Eye Protection

Let’s talk about eyes. The eye is one of nature’s most baffling and majestic accomplishments, a marvel of engineering and balance capable of discerning up to 10 million distinct hues and minuscule details. The amount of information passing through your eye per second is far beyond your or anyone’s ability to comprehend, and it’s easy to take your eye’s functionality for granted. The loss of an eye is a life adjustment you shouldn’t have to make unnecessarily, and to lose an eye in a preventable workplace accident is even more regrettable. Enviro is committed to serving the diverse needs of the labor community, and eye protection is a crucial component of that mission. Most industrial environments require that you at the very least wear safety glasses, and they will sometimes provide a selection based on the condition present in the space. Also available are goggles (which we’ll cover today) and face-shields (tomorrow), each designed to address a different situation.


Safety glasses come in many shapes and sizes, with some brands putting more emphasis on style than others, but all have to meet the basic criteria of creating a shield around the entire field of vision. This is why safety glasses usually have a distinctive wrap-around construction that normal glasses don’t have. This way, the eyes are protected from the sides as well as the front. There are many brands of safety glass, each with its own aesthetic and gimmick, but they all tend to use the same basic lens types (which are also found on goggles). Let’s look at those.


Lens fogging is a major issue for a worker in moist environments. When water vapor hits a standard glass lens, it tends to form beads that collect on the lens, creating a blurring effect that can be a big problem depending on what you’re doing; it’s also just plain annoying. The introduction of anti-fog lens coating was a leap forward for the eyewear market. The only coating I’m familiar with is ScotchGard by 3M, but I can’t imagine its competitors work much differently. ScotchGard has a reduced-contact angle that (I’m not sure how) prevents the beads from forming, reducing the blur drastically since there’s only a transparent film of water on the lens. That’s the most prominent special lens you’ll see on our site.


Another feature you’ll encounter is the indoor/outdoor (I/O) mirror lens option. As you can probably guess, this lens is for jobs that involve frequent changes of light condition, usually from transit between inside and outside. The mirror coating serves a similar function to the anti-fog coating, in that it prevents excessive light from getting in the way of your job.


There’s also bifocal lenses, or readers. This technology, pioneered by Benjamin Franklin in the 1780s, allows for a greater degree of magnification in one area of the lens (usually on the bottom) that allow one to get a closer look at whatever’s in front of you without having to adjust your physical position. The degree of magnification is noted in the product description.


There are other lens features, such as anti-scratch (self-explanatory), low IR(infrared), and others, but let’s move on to goggles. Safety goggles are designed to be the next step up in eye protection, intending to create a seal around the eyes rather than a simple shield. In theory, this prevents anything from getting to your eyes from any angle. This creates a new problem, however, since now the lens is more prone to fogging from inside. To prevent this, many lenses have one-way vents that allow airflow through the chamber without compromising protection.


Tomorrow we’ll be looking at the more hardcore forms of eye protection used in welding and similar occupations.

Respirator Fit Testing

Last time I wrapped up our introduction to respiratory protection, and I closed with some comments on fit testing. Today I’m going to explore fit tests in greater detail, and introduce ten of our 3M products that are used in the process.


You remember the solutions that are used to test the security and quality of the respirators. We sell these solutions both as part of a larger kit (more on that later) and by themselves. There’s something a bit odd, however. There’s two kinds of solution, sweet and bitter. But then there are also two separate products with slightly different descriptions for use, even though their chemical makeup appears to be identical. There’s the FT-12 (sweet) and FT-32 (bitter) fit test solutions, along with FT-11 and FT-31, which are listed as “sensitivity solutions.” They contain the same amount of fluid (55 mL), so what’s the difference?


The sensitivity solutions appear to have drastically lower chemical-to-water ratios, but the data is confusing. For some reason, FT-12 has exact numbers: it’s 45% sodium saccharin and 55% water. But FT-11 says it’s <1% sodium saccharine and >99% water, and both values are marked as a trade secret. To use 3M’s words, “The specific chemical identity and/or exact percentage (concentration) of this composition has been withheld as a trade secret.” Then I checked the data for the bitter solutions. FT-32 is marked as 90-100% water, 3-10% sodium chloride, and 0-1% denatonium benzoate. F-31 has the exact same number ranges, but again marked as a “trade secret.” An instructional video shows that FT-11 and FT-31 are for measuring the user’s sensitivity to the substance, whether their taste buds are able to detect it at all at an extremely low concentration . The other two, obviously, are used for the fit test procedure itself. FT-12 must be extremely sweet, considering its percentages are so close compared to FT-32.


For a full fit testing kit, we offer two full qualitative fit test apparati, the FT-10 with sweet solution and the FT-30 with bitter solution. There’s also the FT-20 package, which includes all the items from FT-10 along with extensive training material (posters, brochures, videos, etc). What items are those?


To do the fit test, you’ll need three pieces of hardware: nebulizer, test hood, and collar. The hood (FT-14) is a rather funny-looking white bag with a clear face window and a valve in the middle. It is placed over the head for both the sensitivity and fit tests. It is held in place with the collar (FT-15), which fits over the shoulders and secures the hood over the head. The valve pops open to administer the test with the nebulizer (FT-13), which first administers the sensitivity test by squeezing into the mouth in sets of 10. If you can’t taste the agent after 30 squeezes, the other solution is used. The process is repeated, with the respirator on and using the fit test liquid. If you can’t taste it after 30 squeezes, the respirator has passed the test and is cleared for use in the field.


Fit testing is a crucial component of any respiratory protection program. Make sure you sanitize the inside of the hood and collar for each test subject. Stay safe.

Introduction to Respiratory Protection, Pt. 2

Yesterday we started talking about the range of respiratory protection products we carry here at Enviro. We covered our disposable respirator masks and the reusable face masks with replaceable filters. Today we’re looking at the next tier of protective equipment, engineered by the top innovators in the industry for the most demanding situations.


Powered air purifying respirators (PAPR) provide some of the most sophisticated respiratory protection out there, seeming more like the suits the scientists in Stranger Things wear when they interact with the Upside Down than something a normal worker would wear at their day job. But there are jobs out there that have truly gruesome particles in the air that a more standard filter simply can’t handle. It calls for next-level technology, which the PAPR provides. Its central component is the motorized air purificiation unit that straps to the user’s body, which sucks the bad air in and funnels it through a tube into the face mask. There are different forms of facial protection for PAPR systems, typically either a helmet that forms a seal around the face or a hood that covers the whole head. PAPRs are necessary for environments that have been deemed immediately dangerous to life or health (IDLH) by an expert from OSHA who inspects the space and determines what is needed to make it work-safe. If there are any changes to the environment that could affect contamination levels, a new test is done.


Another option is the self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) from Survivair. This isn’t as popular or convenient a product, so we only carry three types. SCBAs are for situations where the air is too dangerous to even be purified, such as in a firefight or during a deadly virus outbreak (they were popular during the Ebola crisis). Instead of sucking air through a purification system, SCBAs rely on canisters of pressurized air that is released into the mask over a particular period of time, depending on the demands of the job. If someone is in a situation that requires an SCBA, they are probably putting their life on the line for the sake of others. While it doesn’t seem particularly interesting or iconic, the SCBA is emblematic of the safety community’s dedication to braving some of life’s greatest perils, often with little reward in return.


Another important aspect of respiratory protection is fit testing. OSHA has very particular requirements and standards that any respirator must meet to be cleared for use in the field. A fit test determines this annually in a 15-20 minute process. The two types of fit tests are qualitative and quantitative, referring to how they measure the security of the respirator. The qualitative test is administered by releasing one of four approved test substances near the respirator. If the user can smell or taste the test substance, then it has penetrated the respirator and the test is failed. This test is usually performed on half-mask respirators. A quantitative test doesn’t rely on the user’s senses but uses an objective measuring device to determine the degree to which the respirator is compromised. It accomplishes this with either generated or ambient aerosol, and a sophisticated probe attached to the facepiece that sends information to the machine.


Respiratory protection is a rich field of innovative research and development, and we at Enviro do our best to stay on top of the industry and make sure you get only the best. Stay safe.

Introduction to Respiratory Protection

We don’t often give much thought to the air we breathe. Air quality is usually out of our control so worrying about it would cause unnecessary stress. For the most part, that isn’t a big deal, but if you’re on the job and the processes involved are kicking material into the air, it’s worth the effort to protect your respiratory system. Here at Enviro we have a range of respiratory protection products from one-use face masks to full-service airtight respiration suits. What kind of job you’re doing will determine what kind of protection you need. Let’s dive in.


The most basic type of respirator is the familiar dust mask. Everyone’s seen them before, those white paper domes strapped to the faces of construction workers like cardboard Darth Vader masks. Without them, your lungs could incur irreparable damage from the particulate in the air. It’s not quite the equivalent of a lava bath on Mustafar, but lung damage severely affects quality of life and even lead to death. A particularly nasty substance, crystalline silica, is a byproduct of many crushing and grinding processes. It sprays into the air as a cloud of microscopic needles that, when inhaled, will settle in your lungs and create a horrifying infection. It can take up to a decade for symptoms to show, but when they do it usually means the end of a career and a grim prognosis of a drastically shortened life. You don’t want that to happen, and a proper respirator can prevent it.


Dust masks have letter and number ratings: N, R, P, 95, 99, and 100. N means that the respirator is not oil resistant and shouldn’t be used in oily situations. R means it is resistant to oil and suitable for light oil applications, while P indicates the mask is fully oil-proof and suitable for jobs with a heavy oil presence. The numbers reflect the percentage of particles (0.3 microns or larger) that the respirator filters. For example, a P95 mask is oil-proof and filters out 95% of particles. Simple enough. To be precise, 100-rated masks filter out 99.97% of particles, but the system rounds it up for obvious reasons. N95s tend to be the most popular because they are easier to breathe in.


If your environment has more airborne dangers than a disposable filter can handle, we have you covered. Our half- and full-face respirators may be more Vader-esque than the simple dust masks, but they are also much more effective. They typically feature a mask that covers the mouth and two filter slots on either side that accomodate disposable filters, which can come as distinctive cartridges or soft pads. You can buy composite parts as well as conveniently packaged assembly kits at a discount. There are a number of specialized models for particular jobs (for example, the 3MM7193 is designed for asbestos) but they’re mostly multi-purpose and fit for all kinds of work. Some of them cover only the mouth, while others come with a face shield that forms a seal around the whole face, providing eye protection as well.


Next time we’re going to look at some of the more advanced options in the respiratory department, like PAPRs and SCBAs and other great acronymically named products. Stay tuned!

Introduction to Fall Protection, Pt. 2

When it comes to fall protection, every situation calls for a unique solution. Harnesses and SRLs are standard and most frequently associated with fall protection, but not every job calls for or is compatible with such a system. Sometimes you need something a bit simpler. Shock-absorbing lanyards could be just the thing.


A lanyard is made of core material of a particular length that absorbs dangerous arrest forces as it extends, nullifying the potentially disastrous effect of a fall. It’s not as sophisticated as an SRL and it’s much more likely to leave you swinging from the momentum, but it’s a perfectly effective option for your fall protection needs. They come in many different lengths, colors, and materials to fit whatever your particular situation calls for.


But what if there is no anchorage point? What if you need to descend into an area or walk along a beam at a construction site, and there is simply nowhere to clip your device? Where there’s no anchorage to be found, you make your own. There are a number of ways to do this. For the steel girder situation, you’ll want a horizontal lifeline system. At first glance it looks like any old SRL, but it’s designed to be secured at either end of an elevated workspace and tightened with the winch handle on its side. The worker threads the wire through a shock-absorbing lanyard and walks along the length of it, the lanyard sliding along with them. In the event of a fall, a properly tightened line will act as a standard anchorage point would, while the lanyard absorbs the arrest forces.


Also available are controlled descent systems, which can take many forms. Most prominent is the classic tripod model seen in products like the DBI8300030 from 3M, which features a solid aluminum build and telescoping legs that adjust to the terrain. Say you need to go down a manhole or narrow chasm. The tripod will dig into the ground with its specialized feet, providing the same support for the worker as a normal anchorage point. The whole assembly sets up in seconds, making it ideal for rescue operations. Also available are the Advanced line of DBI-SALA hoist systems, which come in a highly distinctive green and are available both as their separate composite parts and as full apparati.


We also have cable sleeves, which are little wheeled devices that can attach to a lifeline stretched from the bottom to the top of a ladder with a tightening apparatus. If the user slips, the sleeve will lock up and prevent them falling all the way down. There are other, lower-tech options such as D-ring extensions to give you more slack in a close-quarters situation, sliding beam anchors for a moveable connection point, contoured support seats (DBI1001396), and reinforced hoistable tool buckets with six connection points and puncture-resistant plating in the bottom.


Enviro has hundreds of products to address your fall protection needs and concerns, and we’re excited to welcome you into our business family.

Introduction to Fall Protection

Falling. It’s one of mankind’s most primal fears, awaking ancient feelings of helplessness in the face of merciless nature. The possibility of falling is a constant reminder that we are not in control of our world, one that becomes all the more threatening the older we get. But a fall at home in old age is outside of our control or influence. A fall on the job, however, is one of the main things we work to prevent here at Enviro. We offer a staggering array of different fall protection products that address different support configurations.


The situation you’re working in at height determines what kind of fall protection you will need. You may or may not have an anchor point in front or above you to attach your system to. What kind of plane of motion do you need to get the job done? Will a single vertical ascent system suffice, or do you need to cross a horizontal distance? I’ll outline some protection options designed for these situations.


First, you have your arrest harness. It’s a system of nylon or polyester straps that physically support your body in the event of a fall. You lose your grip, or slip, or whatever happens, and the straps will hold you in midair as you wait to be rescued. You don’t want to dangle there too long, as extremely negative effects can occur from the pressure the straps put on your muscles and blood vessels. The harness attaches to the arrest system with a D-ring, which can be found on the front or back depending on what style of harness fits your needs best. After a harness is involved in a fall, it should be put out of service immediately and discarded. It’s tempting to use it again to save money and the trouble of getting a new one, but the trauma a harness incurs in a fall usually compromises the material and makes it unuseable. Even if a harness were to fall without being damaged, it’s not worth the risk to use it again. Many harnesses have some kind of indicator that shows if fall trauma has been incurred by the product.


A self-retracting lifeline (SRL) attaches to the harness on one end, and the line is coiled into a plastic-encased spool that clips onto an anchorage point overhead. From there it basically functions like a seatbelt; it has a motion sensor that locks down the mechanism if it’s unspooling too fast, halting the fall. Most SRLs feature internal shock absorption technology to prevent injury from the sudden halt of forces generated by falling. Different SRLs have slightly different features and accordingly various price tags.


Say you’re on a rebar frame for a building that’s going up. You don’t have just one spot you need to be to do your work, but many spread horizontally across a distance. Rather than go down each time and move your SRL, get one with twin legs. It looks very different from a standard SRL, but it works the same. The spools are attached to the chest rather than the structure, and the two legs with hooks on the end allow you to gradually move from one point to the next, without losing anchorage.


There’s more to talk about in fall protection. Stay tuned for the next post.

Introduction to Gloves

In an earlier post I made a point of how daunting it can be to look at the sheer variety of safety products available on sites like ours. Our work gloves category features 689 products. The first time I saw it I thought “how can there be that many different kinds of gloves.” Oh, but there are. There are so many gloves. For every task in the labor world that you don’t want to do with bare hands, there’s a glove precision-engineered for that particular application. There’s gloves for welding, labwork, construction, lumber yards, oil rigs, truck driving (those steering wheels can cause wicked blisters), gloves for extreme heat, for extreme cold, dry environments, wet environments. Any work situation you can think of, there’s probably a glove for that.


A popular synthetic material in both disposable and reusable gloves is nitrile butadiene rubber (NBR), usually referred to simply as nitrile. Its versatility of application means nitrile gloves can be found in janitorial closets and nuclear labs. They can endure heavy and prolonged use, but are flexible enough to allow for dexterity in operations. This varies according to how much nitrile is present in the polymer, but nitrile’s overall convenience has made it a huge hit since its introduction during World War II.


The University of Iowa’s EHS (Environmental Health & Safety) department outlines four basic factors to keep in mind when selecting a glove: what will the gloves come into contact with (and under what circumstances), what kind of work will the gloves be doing, what does the manufacturer test data say, and what is your budget?


Are the gloves for prolonged and expected contact with a chemical, or are they there in case of accidental contact? The answer will determine the extent of chemical protection that you need with the gloves. At the furthest extreme of chemical handling, you’ll want something like MCR’s shoulder-length gloves (MCR6950), which are basically rubber sleeves equipped with bacteria-resistant Actifresh treatment, extreme resistance to industrial chemicals, and (somewhat humorously) brass rings on the end that clip to your clothes. If that’s what you need, then that’s what you need. If a splash of chemical here and there is all you have to worry about, then there are less intense options.


Do you need the gloves to do precise work handling small parts, or are you lifting heavy objects and only need an abrasion-resistant buffer between the surface and your hand? We have gloves specifically designed to address those very different needs.


A crucial factor in choosing a glove is its protection rating. These ratings often come courtesy of ANSI, the American National Standards Institute. The glove is placed in a machine that applies precisely measured pressure to the glove to determine its capacity to resist cuts, abrasions, and punctures. For example, a blade is pressed to the surface of the glove with a particular weight and slid over it. If the glove resists the cut effectively, the weight is increased. The point at which the glove is cut determines its score (between A1 and the extremely rare A9), which is printed on the glove itself.


You know better than anyone what kind of money you’re looking to spend on gloves, and we do our best to sell them at unbeatable prices so you shop with us again and again.

After the Storm, Pt. 2

The death toll from Hurricane Harvey has surpassed 60, Beaumont’s federal prisoners have gone a week without food and are drinking toilet water as I type this, and Irma has grown larger than Ohio on its collision course with Puerto Rico and Florida. If my calculations are right, 161,997.07 acres of California land are currently on fire, as are massive swaths of Montana and Oregon. This is America in 2017, and many more disasters are to come. Where will you be? What will you do? How will you be remembered?


If you’re reading this, you’re probably a professional laborer or an employer of laborers looking for great deals on high-quality safety equipment, and you’re in the right place to do so. Here at Enviro we have a large selection of products from several top-rated brands, engineered to serve all kinds of labor needs. But disaster cleanup is a significantly grimmer occasion to need our products than just another day at the factory. There’s a degree of solemnity that is appropriate for situations where the dead are multiplying and the dying are in dire straits.


What are we to do? Well, for us the solution is to keep doing what we do best: provide the market with top-tier products at unbeatable prices. If you read last week’s post, we covered the hazards of contamination by the fetid water and airborne debris. We’re still dealing with those same concerns, but your eyes are also at risk in this situation.


Proper eye protection for this job must seal out foreign matter and have anti-fog coating on the lenses to prevent perspiration distorting your vision. Ideally, they should also have side-shields to protect from impacts by flying objects. An airtight seal around the eye will do the trick to stay infection-free. Some goggles, like Pyramex’s chem splash (PYR304T-N) even have one-way air vents to allow some airflow without compromising the protection. 3M has a cheap and convenient option (AOS40661-00000-10) that can easily be bought in massive bulk and distributed to hundreds of rescuers.


Also necessary is protection for your hands, which will be your most essential tools in the field. Two great products come to mind. HexArmor’s Chrome Series 4036 is a waterproof heavy-duty work glove. Besides looking like something Tony Stark would make (HexArmor gloves are instantly recognizable), it feature level-5 cut protection, impact-resistant back-of-hand protection, and top-tier abrasion resistance on the palms. Combine all that with the waterproof H2X lining that fends off the bitterly wet and cold conditions you’ll be facing, and you have an excellent choice for the more extreme situations. In more predictable contexts, you can go with a disposable glove such as the Micromax N89. These are nitrile-coated medical-grade gloves designed for lab work, but what makes this particular product stand out is its long cuff. Even the best gloves are useless if water rushes into them, so this glove can serve a similar function to waders, except for the arms rather than legs.


Hurricane season is not over. America is facing devastating natural threats that we can do nothing to stop. But if we prepare in advance and go into recovery operations with a high level of organization, grit, and passion for the suffering, then we can come out of this stronger than ever before. Thanks for reading.