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Do all components of my fall arrest system have to be from the same manufacturer?

Under ANSI standards you can mix and match your fall protection equipment if a competent person deems them compatible. Why? Because if a piece of equipment is considered a harness, it’s a harness despite what manufacturer makes it. It’s important to remember not all components are interchangeable, however. Any changes should be evaluated and tested by a competent person.

The biggest reason for the confusion is the litigation nightmare that can happen in the event of an accident. If for some reason a fall protection system fails and it’s made up of parts from various manufacturers, no one really knows who is to blame. And that can make any potential lawsuits or settlements a giant pain in the rear end.

Do you know the ABCD’s of fall protection?

Personal Fall Arrest Systems (PFAS) are made up of 4 major components:

  1. Anchor: This is your secure point of attachment that will support an intended load. The anchorage connectors will vary due to industry needs.

  2. Body Wear: Think harness. This is typically the support device that will help distribute fall force over multiple points of the body (upper thighs, pelvis, chest and shoulders).

  3. Connectors: Connectors are lanyards or lifelines that connect a worker’s harness to the anchor.

  4. Descent & Rescue: It cannot be stressed enough about how crucial it is to have the proper devices in place to either raise or lower a fallen worker to safety.

Best practices recommend that you use the same manufacturer for all components to make sure they are compatible. Just remember you need them checked out by your competent person.

smug bacon

"If your system fails to perform and it’s made from various manufacturers, you’ll be dealing with a bunch of suits. And that’s about as fun as a slap in the face."

- Bacon

What qualifications / certifications does my company need to be in compliance with fall protection standards?

Here's the full list of qualifications you need within your company to be in compliance:

  • Awareness: This is your most basic level of knowledge. It’s a brief overview of fall hazards, fall protection equipment and how to use it. Even the grunt on the team should have this knowledge.

  • Authorized-user: This is training that the actual user receives. It’s specific to the job and hazards that a particular user will be exposed to. This kind of training does not carry over to different applications.

  • Competent person: Most like your supervisor will be trained at this level. It covers all types of fall hazards and forms of protection. They must also know the standards inside and out. They are the ones that organize, evaluate and recommend fall protection solutions. They have the knowledge to call out people that aren’t using their equipment properly. They can also inspect and test equipment.

  • Qualified person: This is your ‘top of the food chain’ fall protection expert. They receive specialized education that teaches them how to address technical issues, make certified anchor points or design horizontal safety systems.

Now you know the different levels of expertise when it comes to compliance, let’s touch on a few other things you need to have in place.

Not only do you need to have the right person making the calls, you need a written program in place that clearly details the fall protection plan.

One of the most overlooked aspects of that plan is the rescue procedure. No one ever wants to think about a worst-case scenario, but you can bet your sweet bippy that you’ll want all personnel to be trained on how to save a life.

In fact, training is one of the most important parts of a fall protection plan.

That along with providing the right PPE is the only way you can be sure you are keeping your crew safe. And if you plan on taking shortcuts to save a couple bucks, you can be sure you will pay tooth and nail in the long run.

"If you don’t know what a competent person is, we need to talk. "

- Bacon
pissed bacon

What is the life expectancy of my fall protection equipment?

Alright, let’s have a little straight talk. The rule of thumb is 5 years, as long as it’s checked out annually by a competent person.

Too bad it ain’t that simple.

The reality is that even if your equipment isn’t involved in a fall or showing any visible wear and tear, you may not want to go by the manufacturer expiration date.

Why? Think about what you do every day. You’re likely not working in optimum conditions, are you?

You use your fall protection equipment in the sun, the rain and maybe snow? Your equipment may be exposed to harsh chemicals, oxygen or sunlight. Exposure to these conditions all play a role in the breakdown of the integrity of your equipment.

And remember that you share some of your equipment with Darrell. Do you really trust that he is properly maintaining and inspecting that equipment?

I told you it’s not a one-size-fits-all answer.

Make sure you regularly inspect every piece of equipment for wear and tear. And if it’s been involved in a fall, retire it and order new equipment. Take risks somewhere else, not on your fall gear.

shocked bacon

"You’re looking for a one-size-fits-all answer? Good luck with that. Nothing lasts forever."

- Bacon

Can we put hard hat decals on our hard hats?

Everyone wants to personalize their hard hats, especially if they need to wear them every day. And, sometimes companies use decals for identification.

Here’s the skinny on hard hat decals: they should be used sparingly, if at all.

Who really knows what that adhesive on the back of those stickers can do to the integrity of your hard hat?

Do you have any idea what chemical compounds are in the adhesive? How will it react with the plastic of your hard hat?

And here’s another thought, if your hard hat did sustain any damage, would you be able to see it? No, because the decal would be covering that damage.

If you are going to use decals, try to keep it at a minimum. You need to be able to inspect your gear regularly. You can’t do that if you can’t see it.

Pro tip: Keep stickers about a ½ inch away from the base of the hard hat.

"You could put pretty little stickers on your hard hat …but, you may not want to."

- Bacon
curious bacon

Can we wear our hard hats backwards?

We’re just messing with you, many professions like welding actually need to be able to reverse don their hard hat.

The answer to this one is fairly simple. If you aren’t specifically required to wear as front-facing hard hat for safety reasons, you can turn it backwards (reverse donning) — if the suspension can also be properly reversed.

So, check underneath the hat and look for little arrows that indicate that it can be worn frontwards or backwards. If you don’t see the circle of arrows, just continue to wear your hard hat forward, according to manufacturer’s recommendations.

annoyed bacon

"You trying to make a fashion statement or do your job?"

- Bacon

How often do we have to be re-fitted for respiratory protection?

At least once a year, your respirator should be checked for proper fit and seal.

The reason why we say ‘at least’ is because an annual test may not be enough. Changes in weight, surgery, scarring, eyewear and facial hair can all play a role in the effectiveness of your respirator protection. And, an initial medical exam is required to perform a fit-test.

There two kinds of fit tests: Qualitative and Quantitative:

Qualitative testing uses four types of chemicals for testing and includes Saccharin, Bitrex, Irritant Smoke and Banana Oil (Isoamyl Acetate). This test is a pass/fail with no in between. It detects any kind of leakage into the respirator facepiece.

Quantitative testing uses a machine that attaches to any tight fitting respirator and doesn’t rely on your senses. It uses generated aerosol, ambient aerosol or controlled negative pressure.

It may seem like an inconvenience, but what’s the point of wherever any kind of safety gear if it doesn’t fit? And if an employer isn’t doing these regular fit tests, they better be ready for some hefty fines.

The medical costs and lost production doesn’t even begin to stack up to the weight of having a worker’s health on your conscience.


"Are you looking for some generic baseline answer like once a year? Or, do you want the truth?"

- Bacon
curious bacon

What are the requirements to start a respirator program?

If your workers are exposed to dangerous airborne contaminants they need a respirator.

And that doesn’t mean grabbing any old mask and handing it off to them with hopes that it does the job.

First, you need to perform a hazard assessment to figure out what the heck they need protection from. An industrial hygienist can perform this or you can refer to OSHA tables to identify hazards that require protection.

Then compare these levels to the permissible exposure limits a worker can safely inhale.

If hazards levels are above the safe zone, respirators are required. Once you document these hazards and their levels, you need to create written respirator program.

This program should cover things like:

  • Respirator selection (approved by NIOSH)

  • Medical evaluations

  • Use of respirators

  • Maintenance and care

  • Adequate air quality

  • Training

  • Medical Evaluation

  • Fit testing and seal checks

  • Inspections before each use

  • Routine evaluations

You are also required to let your crew know what they are working with. And guess what? It’s not ‘set it and forget it.’

Any time there is a change in hazard levels or environment, the whole program needs to be re-evaluated.

 

pissed bacon

"No, wearing a bandana over your mouth is not a respiratory program. There’s much more to know."

- Bacon

Do dust masks need to be fit-tested?

Any NIOSH approved or two-strap respirators (8210 and 8511) are required to be fit-tested.

You still need to make sure the disposable dust mask that you use is providing effective protection. And you need to check it for proper fit and seal every year.

Just like any kind of respirator, you need to be sure workers know how to use a dust mask and when it’s necessary.

They should know the limitations of the mask, how to use it effectively in an emergency situation and how to don and doff (fancy way of saying put on and take off).

Other important things to know are maintenance and storage procedures. Tossing any type of protective gear in a tool box or on the rearview is just wasting money and ruining the product.

Tossing any type of protective gear in a toolbox or on the rearview is just wasting money and ruining the product.

"Yep. Even those disposable dust masks need to fit a worker’s face. Imagine that. "

- Bacon
smug bacon

How frequently do we need to bump test and calibrate our gas detector?

It’s probably a good thing to know this stuff— especially if you are working with dangerous substances or in confined spaces.

Most people get these confused and that could cost a person their life.

So let's talk about each one individually.

Bump testing is a daily test (like checking your smoke alarm) you should do before you begin work. The point of doing it is to make sure the sensor and alarm are functioning.

It confirms that the challenge gas you expose it to is being detected. And it makes sure that if the challenge gas is detected, it will trigger an alarm. It does not test for accuracy or specific levels of dangerous gases though.

Calibration is where that comes in. This is usually done on a monthly basis. It’s kind of an under the hood tune-up. That is the step you take to confirm the gas monitor is measuring the concentration of gas accurately.

It also helps you know that your monitor and sensor are actually working and haven’t degraded over time. If you don’t know the accuracy of your reading, what good are they?


If your instrument fails a bump test or calibration check, try performing a full calibration. If it fails that, it’s time to toss it in the trash.

Here’s a little legal info: OSHA 1910.146 holds users accountable for calibrating and testing their gas detection devices. So keep a record!
 
shocked bacon

"You don’t think they are the same thing, do you?"

- Bacon

At a minimum, what do I need to make a confined space entry?

Confined spaces aren’t always obvious. So you definitely want to make sure you do a thorough hazard assessment on any new jobsite.

Typically, a confined space has limited entry or exit, unguarded machinery, exposed wires, has limited airflow or has dangerous substances.

Here are a few examples:

  • Vats
  • Ditch
  • Storage tank
  • Tunnel
  • Boiler
  • Well
  • Silo
  • Manhole
  • Sewer
  • Trench
  • Culvert
  • Electrical vault

So, if you have what we consider a permit-required confined space, you need to pull a permit. This lets everyone know there is going to be a confined space entry, including supervisors or plant managers.

So, before you jump in with guns a-blazing, you may want to make sure your confined space doesn’t have hazardous gases or vapors, dangerous oxygen levels, combustible gases, engulfment hazards or fall hazards.

Use a gas detection device that has been bump tested and calibrated before entry. And do this every time!

That ain’t it.

You better make sure you have a written confined space program. Train your crew and have the right people assigned to the right posts. You need someone on the outside as a point guard.

Your attendant will monitor air prior to entry and during to make sure there isn’t any dangerous atmosphere changes.

They will install early warning systems that continually monitor the atmosphere.  They also need to be able to retrieve the inside worker in the event of an emergency.

Use lockout tagout when possible, to avoid unnecessary hazards. And have a rescue plan in place, man.

The most important part of going into a confined space is being able to come out alive.

 

"You kinda want to know that you won’t blow up or breathe in poison."

- Bacon
hanging bacon

Can we wear our prescription safety glasses or contacts under our full-face respirator?

No.The biggest reason for this is to prevent the substance you are trying to keep out of your respirator, from getting into your respirator.

The temples of safety glasses or prescription glasses may break the seal in your respirator. If that happens, your respiratory protection is worthless.

You’re wondering why contact lenses aren’t recommended, aren’t you?

  • Dust or chemicals can get trapped behind contact lenses

  • Increased injury from chemical splash with delayed removal of lenses

  • When working in hazardous environment, it’s dangerous to remove the respirator in the event of a contact becoming dislodged.

Don’t worry. You don’t have to work blind. You can use a spectacle kit that fits inside the mask if you wear prescription eyewear.

They are specially designed to provide you with the prescription strength assistance you need with the protection your job requires.

 
annoyed bacon

"Nope. Hope you don’t need your vision to do your job. ... Just kidding."

- Bacon

For leading edge roof work, can we use traffic cones, delineator posts or something we fabricate as a warning line?

You can use all of the above when it comes to leading edge work. Here’s the deal with that, do your devices meet all of the requirements of the standards to properly mark and delineate hazard areas?

These are some of the requirements for using warning-line systems made of rope, wires, chains and supporting stanchions OSHA 29 CFR 1926.502(f):

  • Must be erected around all sides of roofing work area

  • If using mechanical equipment, warning line must be erected no less than 6 feet from the roof edge, parallel to the direction of the mechanical equipment’s operation. And, no less than 10 feet from the rood edge perpendicular to the direction of the mechanical equipment’s operation.

  • If mechanical equipment isn’t being used, warning line must be erected no less than 6 feet from the edge.

  • If you aren’t doing roof work in the designated area, you must remain outside work area between roof edge and warning line.

  • Points of access, material-handling areas, storage areas and hoisting must be connected to the work area by an access path formed by two warning lines. When these areas aren’t in use, a warning line must be placed across the path at the point where the path intersects the warning line erected around the work area. Or the path must be offset in a way that a person can’t walk directly into the work area.


  • All warning lines must be flagged with high visibility material at no more than 6-feet intervals.


  • Must have a tip over strength of at least 16 pounds applied horizontally against the stanchion, 30 inches above the walking working surface perpendicular to the warning line and in the direction of the floor, roof or platform edge.


  • The warning line must have a minimum tensile strength of 500 pounds. After being attached to the stanchions, it must support the load applied (without breaking).


  • The warning lines must be attached to each stanchion in such a way that pulling on one section of the line between stanchions wouldn’t result in slack taken up in adjacent section before a stanchion tips over.


  • Warning lines can be no more than 39” and no less than 34” (including sag) from the walking working surface.

Foremen and superintendents need to make sure warning-line set-up is proper and compliant.

 

"These are not really used in leading edge work, but you can use them to keep you from approaching the edge. But, you better make sure it fits within the standards. Don’t just toss something up there and hope for the best."

- Bacon
hanging bacon

Is pennant flagging or barricade tape allowable for leading edge work?

Yes and no. There are some pennant flags and barricade tapes that have a 500 lb. tensile strength.

But, your regular tapes don’t have the strength requirements to use in a leading edge situation.

In order to be allowed for leading edge work, the material needs to be made from heavy-duty specialized materials that are approved by OSHA 1926.502 (f)(2)(iv) and allow it to take up to 500 lbs. of force without breaking or tearing.

annoyed bacon

"Kinda. But, you better make sure they are rated with the correct strength requirements. "

- Bacon

Can I make the call or who makes the call if an anchor point is compliant?

If you’re working with any personal fall arrest system (PFAS), you don’t want just anyone making that call.

You need someone who has advanced knowledge of those known systems, which would be a Qualified Person (QP).

OSHA came up a little short with its definition of what constitutes a QP; you don’t necessarily have to be an engineer. But, you have to be able to show a “demonstrated ability to solve or resolve problems”.

If you can prove your ability through past work and through certification testing that meets 1910.27, you will be considered capable to perform the required functions.

Recent updates have required that qualified persons be responsible for several things regarding fall protection.

A Qualified Person is now responsible for training workers, rather than a competent person.

They are also responsible for correcting or repairing areas of walking-working surfaces that involve structural integrity.

Other tasks which must be performed by a Qualified Person:

  • Inspect knots in a lanyard or vertical lifeline

  • Annual inspection of rope descent anchorages

  • Anchorage certification

The building owner is also required to inform the employer, in writing, that the building owner has identified, tested, certified and maintained each anchorage so it is capable of supporting 5,000 pounds in any direction.

"Maybe. If you're a Qualified Person. If not, you’re not the one to make that call. Better luck next time, buddy."

- Bacon
curious bacon

Can I use the same face-shield for all applications? Are materials different?

Before you go slapping any old face shield on your mug, you may want to have an idea what the heck you need protection from. What kind of material are you trying to avoid? How fast will it be hitting you in the face? If this material hit you square in the face, could the impact hurt you? 

So, obviously, you need to do a full hazard assessment to find out what you’re working with before you can decide what kind of protection you need.

Depending on the application will determine the level of protection you need. Brazing, torching, welding, cutting, impact and chemical splash all require specialized protection.

Most of the time ANSI standard Z87.1 will provide adequate protection, but there are times when ballistic rated safety eyewear is required.  

Military standard MIL-PRF-31013 testing procedures produce about 7 times more impact energy than Z87.1, so extreme impact potential means you need extreme protection.

Different types of materials offer different levels of protection:

Polycarbonate (PC): Offers excellent impact resistance, optical quality, heat resistance and normal chemical resistance. They can hold up well in really cold temperatures as well. Heads up, you may also hear this referred to as Lexan.
 
Cellulose acetate (CA): Offers normal impact resistance, optical quality, and good chemical resistance. Acetate gives you the best clarity and can be more scratch-resistant than other visor materials.
 
Priopionate: Provides better impact protection than acetate and offers chemical splash protection.
 
Polyethylene terephthalate glycol (PETG): Provides chemical splash protection and offers light impact protection.
 

Don’t forget that protective eyewear should always be worn to prevent hazards from entering from under or around the face shield.

questioning bacon

"You could, but you might not be too thrilled with the outcome. If you want to protect that pretty mug, use the right equipment."

- Bacon

How do I know what cartridge or filter I need for my respirator?

First, you need a full hazard assessment to determine the hazards that are present on the jobsite. 

An industrial hygienist can do surveys that can help you identify what’s in the air. You really want time-weighted data to fully understand the degree of hazards that are present and what you need to do for employees to work safely.

 

Once you know the risks, you try to find ways to use engineering methods to remove those risks.

Next, you check out your safety data sheets to understand more about the hazards that remain.

Finally, you can choose the cartridge or filter that will best remove those dangerous substances before you inhale them. This is all part of a good respiratory program. If you don’t have a respiratory program, it’s time to get one.


Teams of scientists and experts have performed endless hours of research to find out which materials provide protection against which specific hazards.

Obviously, a dust mask isn’t going to protect you against acid gas or organic vapor. So, experts created an easy to follow color-coded chart to help you pick which respirator cartridge will get the job done. 

It doesn’t get any easier than that. So, unless you have an advanced degree in chemistry—stick to the chart and its change out schedule.

Don’t forget that conditions can change at any time. Regular hazard assessments should be performed, so you always know what you are up against.

Make sure you care for and clean your respirator the right way or it’s about as useless as trying to breathe underwater through a straw.

Take care of your gear and it will take care of you.

"What do you think this is? A game of eenie meenie miney mo!? There’s a science behind choosing the right respirator cartridge or filter. "

- Bacon
shocked bacon

How do I know when to change out my cartridges or filters?

Change out your cartridges according to manufacturer’s instruction. Unless you’re a scientist, you shouldn’t be making this call just by eyeballing it.

There are plenty of factors that could alter the effectiveness of your cartridge. By following the manufacturer’s suggestions, you can create a change out schedule based on the contaminants you are working with, frequency and length of use, temperature, and humidity of the jobsite.

You should also take into account any additional chemicals or hazards that could interfere with the level of protection it provides.

In addition, you need to regularly inspect your equipment. It doesn’t make any sense to change out filters if your respirator isn’t working.

Here are some things you want to inspect:

  • Cartridge or filter
  • Face piece
  • Head straps
  • Valves
  • Hoses
  • Diaphragms
  • Supplied air hoses
  • Batteries
  • Quick connects

An easy rule of thumb to remember:

If it becomes a challenge to breathe, it’s probably time to get some new filters or cartridges.

annoyed bacon

"When they aren’t protecting you anymore, genius!"

- Bacon

Nowadays they make all kinds of safety boots and shoes. Is there any way I can visually tell the difference?

All protective footwear manufactured to ASTM specifications (F 2412-05 & F 2413-05) must be marked with the standard that it complies with.

You can find the markings either on the tongue, gusset, shaft or quarter lining.

The tags are basically a cheat sheet so you know what the shoe will protect you from. Remember: US standards are going to vary from Canadian and European standards.

Also, puncture-resistance requirements are going to fall under OSHA 29 CFR 1910.136(a).

Want to know what the symbols mean?

  • Green triangle: Class 1 toe cap with grade 1 puncture-resistant sole

  • Yellow triangle: Class 2 toe cap with grade 2 puncture-resistant sole
    • Toe caps can be steel, composite, thermoplastic polyurethane or aluminum
    • I/75: Impact resistance of 75 (foot pounds)
    • C/75: Compression resistance of 75 (2500 lbs. of pressure)

  • Grey background (Black R in circle): Grade 2 toe protection and no sole puncture protection.

  • Blue square: Grade 1 toe protection and no sole puncture protection

  • White square (with ohm symbol): Offers electrical protection

  • Yellow square (with SD): Offers anti-static protection

  • Red square (with C): Means its electrically conductive

  • Fir tree: Means it offers protection against chainsaws cuts

  • M: Footwear for a male

  • F: Footwear for a female

  • MT: Metatarsal resistance ratings of 75,50 or 30 foot-pounds (found in line # 2)

  • EH: Electrical hazard protection

  • PR: Puncture resistance (found in line #3)

  • CS: Chainsaw resistant

  • DI: Dielectric Insulation

"If the safety shoe is a legit safety shoe, it’ll be branded better than your favorite sports team. A tag on the tongue will tell you almost everything you need to know. "

- Bacon
content bacon

How do we enter a confined space when we have looked at possible equipment on the market and nothing seems practical?

First, you need to look at the entry and determine what kind of entry you will need to plan for.

  • Are there obstructions or poor lighting?
  • Does it appear to be a horizontal entry or vertical entry?
  • Is there the potential for hazardous atmospheres, fire hazards or asphyxiation risks?
  • Is there a fall hazard?

You will want to identify if there are ways to avoid having to enter the confined space at all.

Can engineering methods be used that alleviate the need for workers to enter a confined space? Can hazards be eliminated?

When all else fails, it’s important to speak with other professionals that have encountered these situations before. Tap into the tribal knowledge that they have. This valuable information isn’t often found in a manual or online.

In vertical applications, it’s not uncommon to attach a gas monitor to a long pole in order to test air quality because other means may not exist.

When you don’t take all the possibilities into account, workers can die. There’s no nicer way to say it.

Employers and contractors need to thoroughly inspect confined spaces and be honest to their workers about the hazards.

It’s necessary to have a rescue plan and procedures in place. Workers must be trained, equipped and practiced for safe entry into a potential confined space. If for any reason rescuers will be unable to respond to a rescue summons, entry shall not be authorized.

It’s also important to take into account the risk of lifelines or lanyards getting snagged or obstructing the space, making horizontal non-entry rescues more dangerous than vertical spaces.

Never take chances.

hanging bacon

"Tap into the tribal knowledge of other professionals to find a safe and effective means of entry."

- Bacon

We need to have multiple workers in a confined space and only have one tripod and retrieval system. What is our best option?

If a space is identified as a permit-required confined space and employees need access to this space, you need to have a written program that complies with OSHA 1910.146 (c)(4).

When you have multiple people in a confined space, you need some kind of self-contained breathing apparatus to enter immediately dangerous to life or health in order to do a rescue.

You need a means of rescue for each person who is in a confined space. Non-entry rescue is preferred and must not create an additional hazard to the entrance.

These are the requirements for non-entry rescue:

  • Each entrant must be provided with retrieval equipment (body harness with retrieval line).

  • The other end of that retrieval line must be attached to a mechanical device or fixed point outside of the confined space.

  • A mechanical device must be available to retrieve personnel from a vertical confined space more than five feet deep.
Equipment that may get tangled or cause greater obstruction must not be used.

"Well, if that’s the route you are going - you better have a rescue plan in effect for each member. "

- Bacon
shocked bacon

Do the traffic cones we use on construction sites need to have stripes?

If you are on a site with a DOT (Department of Transportation) requirements, traffic cones must have stripes.

If you are in a regular construction site, then the cones don’t need to have stripes.

But, if you are working on roadways or horizontal construction sites then you must meet the classifications set forth by the DOT, and those can vary by state. Make sure you check with your state’s requirements.

Cones should be predominantly orange, red-orange or fluorescent yellow. They should follow basic principles for evaluating traffic control devices for streets and highways laid out by the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).

Here are some requirements:

  • Low-speed roadways: Not less than 18 inches tall

  • High-speed roadways: Not less than 28 inches tall

  • Nighttime use: Cones 28 inches or larger and require retro-reflection provided by white band of 6 inches wide, no more than 3-4 inches from the top of the cone. Also, an additional 4-inch-wide white band is required at a minimum of 2 inches below the 6-inch band.
curious bacon

"If you’re in a DOT area, then yes. In a regular construction zone, then no."

- Bacon

How do we know if an anchor point is approved?

  1. Have you bought the anchor point from a fall protection manufacturer? If so, then you can be assured that the anchor point has been designed and tested to the fall protection test standards.

  2. Was it installed according to the manufacturer’s specifications? Different substrates (concrete, decking etc.) have different requirements for anchor points.

  3. Has it been inspected by a competent person and signed off by a qualified person? 
Depending on the substrate that you are anchoring to, you may need a certified engineer.

The best way to know that your anchor point is approved is to speak to whoever is in charge of your fall protection program to ensure all these measures have been taken.

"Have you asked the person who runs your fall protection program? Start there."

- Bacon
questioning bacon

Is there a life expectancy for hard hats?

This isn’t always an easy answer. Manufacturers will say that the shell needs to be replaced every 5 years (rule of thumb, not set in stone) and the suspension changed out every 12 months. But, that doesn’t take into account things like contamination, damage, dirt, grime, chemical exposure, sunlight, extreme temperatures and use.

The only way to be sure your hard hat is in good shape is to inspect it every day. Check for things like cracks, pliability, dent, cuts and frayed or damaged suspension. Also, make sure your hard hat hasn’t degraded from the elements. If a hard hat is faded, chalky or dull—it’s probably time for a new one.

Check for things like:

  • cracks
  • pliability
  • dents  
  • cuts
  • frayed or damaged suspension

Also, make sure your hard hat hasn’t degraded from the elements. If a hard hat is faded, chalky or dull—it’s probably time for a new one.

And, never, ever, ever use a hard hat that has been involved in an impact. Toss it out and get a new hard hat shell and/or suspension. Any impact can destroy the integrity of the head protection.

It’s not worth taking the chance that there could be invisible damage, especially over a couple bucks.

smug bacon

"If it’s old, cracked, damaged or exposed to impact, it’s time to chuck it in the garbage. "

- Bacon

What are the differences in class ratings for hi-viz gear?

What class of high visibility apparel you choose depends on the work that you do. And it should follow ANSI/ISEA 107-2015 standards. The classes are decided based on the level of risk and the complexity of risk to provide the worker with the right amount of protection.

But first, you need to know the types of garment categories that exist before we talk about the classes.

There are 3 garment categories:

Type O

No, this isn’t a blood type. These garments are usually meant for workers who aren’t exposed to traffic. Type O HVSA (high visibility safety apparel) gives workers daytime and nighttime visibility from struck-by hazards such as moving vehicles, equipment or heavy machinery.

Type R

Think highway traffic when it comes to this type of garment. Workers need visibility options that help them stand out against complex backgrounds, day and night.

Type P

This type of garment requires less fluorescent background material than other types. It’s usually used for emergency and law enforcement personnel on-road and off-road. The lower requirements allow organizations to use different colored panels on the garment for quicker and easier identification of personnel.


There are 3 performance classes and one supplemental class that you can choose from for hi-viz gear. Who would’ve thought?

Performance Class 1: Type O only

Minimum amount of hi-viz material. There’s low risk in these scenarios for struck-by hazards at roadway speeds and chances are that the work environment is not complex.


Performance Class 2: Type R & Type P

Uses additional amounts of hi-viz materials compared to Performance Class 1. These garments allow more design opportunities to better define the human form. Class 2 also provides detection and identification at longer distances.


Performance Class 3 Type R & Type P

This class provides the highest level of visibility of the wearer in complex backgrounds. Visibility is achieved throughout a full range of body movements because of strategic and mandatory placement of retro-reflective and performance materials on the sleeves and pant legs. Just remember that sleeveless vests alone are not considered Performance Class 3.


Supplemental Class E

This class covers pants, overalls, bibs, shorts and gaiters. They must be worn with Class 2 or Class 3 garments to be considered Class 3 compliant.

"It’s about more than bright neon vests. Each type has a specific job to do, so don’t think you can use any old vest in any application."

- Bacon
pissed bacon

How do I know what cut level glove I should be using?

Cut resistant gloves are not all created equal. They’re designed for certain applications and the risks associated with that job. Not choosing a safety glove based off of the level of protection it provides is like using a hammer to do the job of a hacksaw. Come on, you know better than that!

Pick a glove that matches the risk. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What will I be holding?
  2. How long will I be holding it?
  3. Is it sharp? How sharp?
  4. Is it hot?
  5. How heavy is it?
  6. Does it have any liquid, chemical or lubricant on it?

Once you know what you are working with, check out ASTM F2992/F2992M-15 to learn what level of cut resistance you need.

There are updated cut levels that range from A1 (light protection) to A9 (extreme protection). So, make sure you aren’t using outdated cut level standards to choose your cut gloves.

If you have to take your gloves off to do your job, you’re wearing the wrong glove, genius. Save your hands by wearing the right safety gloves.

 

hanging bacon

"The one that keeps your fingers from being cut off. Match the glove to the risk."

- Bacon

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