Because head injuries may be caused by falling or flying objects, or by bumping the head against a fixed object, protective helmets must do three things:
Head injuries may be prevented by the selection and use of appropriate head protection. Each type and class of head protector is intended to provide protection against specific hazardous conditions. The user should be able to identify the type of helmet by looking inside the shell for the manufacturer, ANSI designation and class. Protective headwear is made in the following types and classes:
For industrial purposes, three classes are recognized:
When inspecting a hard hat prior to each day’s use, look for gouges, cracks or deterioration. Check that the suspension is properly attached to the shell and all straps are in good condition. When a hard hat is damaged, replace the damaged part or replace the entire hard hat.
Some companies are incorporating or switching to safety helmets for their workers in favor of the traditional hard hat. The safety helmets being used today by some contractors resemble helmets used in cycling, climbing and other sports. They possibly provide better coverage for the sides and back of the head than hard hats and use an interior foam lining for additional impact resistance. These helmets also feature an adjustable chin strap, and most go even further by providing ventilation and an optional integrated visor. Weight and cost right now seem to be the biggest negative, but it does seem this may be way of the future. Not having to worry about the hat falling off is a real big plus in many job arenas.
One of the most common types of injuries that occurs in the workplace is hearing damage. Millions of people experience some type of hearing loss, ringing in the ears, or other issues related to being exposed to loud noises at work. Unfortunately, this type of hearing damage can occur over the course of months or even years, so workers may not even be aware of it. To help combat this huge problem, OSHA has issued several requirements that employers must follow regarding hearing protection.
OSHA's standards are laid out under the standard number 1910.95, which covers occupational noise exposure. Learning about these standards is not only important for remaining in compliance with the government regulations, but also for ensuring employees are given the protection they need. Hearing conservation programs strive to prevent initial occupational hearing loss, preserve and protect remaining hearing, and equip workers with the knowledge and hearing protection devices necessary to safeguard themselves. Employers are required to measure noise levels, provide free annual hearing exams, hearing protection, and training, and conduct evaluations of the adequacy of the hearing protectors in use (unless changes made to tools, equipment, and schedules result in worker noise exposure levels that are less than the 85 dBA).
Hearing protection should be provided to employees and explained how to properly use it. Hearing protective devices (HPDs) come in many shapes, sizes and protection levels; knowing how you intend on using HPDs will help match your needs to the appropriate device. Many hearing protective devices will have labeled Noise Reduction Ratings (NRRs) that indicate the level of protection they provide. These numbers are based on optimized lab testing and bear little resemblance to actual protection among employees in real life work environments.
Two basic types of hearing protective devices include:
Foam ear plugs:
Ear muffs resemble stereo headphones with adjustable foam-filled or liquid-filled plastic cushions that cover the ears.
PPE is an area that requires a commitment to long-term goals and implementation. Employers must take steps to ensure policies and procedures are strictly followed by everyone, from top management to workers on the line or in the field. While holding everyone accountable can be a tedious and significant task in the beginning of any program, making PPE a priority within the company culture can make wearing protective devices instinctive and will decrease injuries. A good first step would be to attend our “Safety compliance 101: Personal Protective Equipment webinar on February 6.
If you need help implementing a PPE or other safety program, contact your risk management specialists at Associated Benefits and Risk Consulting.
Brian is a Risk Management Solutions Manager specializing in loss prevention and fraud investigation.
Brian is a Risk Management Solutions Manager specializing in loss prevention and fraud investigation. He has been in the commercial insurance industry since 1996 with experience in claims investigation and loss mitigation, rooting out workers’ compensation fraud, and working with clients to develop loss control and prevention solutions.
Risk management and human resources are traditionally two different job functions, and the people in these areas have rarely crossed paths — but that is changing.
Why are these people starting to work together more frequently?
If you could give human form to your safety culture, what would it look like?
Maybe it would be a thick-set, shirtless brute named Trog with a foul disposition beating out a drum cadence to keep your employees rowing in-sync.
Or would it be more like a fussy and constantly disapproving Dickensian paper-pusher named Fizzlewhite who has never met a rule or procedure he didn’t like, even though he hasn’t done most of the things he creates rules to address?
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