New Standard for PPE

You probably didn’t realize it but at present in the U.S. there is no uniform requirements for conformity assessment of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

That all changed this week when the American National Standard for Conformity Assessment of Safety and Personal Protective Equipment came out with ANSI/ISEA 125-2014.

From the the ISEA website

The standard establishes three alternative methods of conformity assessment, enabling suppliers, purchasers, customers, regulators and standards writers to match a method with a product or standard where appropriate.

All three methods include requirements for product testing, process quality management, market surveillance, corrective action and recordkeeping, and a standardized way to inform the purchaser of how the product was evaluated for conformity. 

For Level 1, the supplier tests the product in-house or at a third-party lab. 

For Level 2, the product is tested in a facility that is accredited to international standard ISO 17025, and manufactured under an ISO 9001-registered quality system.  Both Level 1 and Level 2 require issuance of a supplier’s declaration of conformity.

Level 3 of the standard is third-party certification, where the entire process from testing to surveillance is under the direction of an accredited certification body, whose mark is applied to conforming products.

The standard is available free of charge.  To request a copy or for more information, contact director of member and technical services Cristine Fargo.

Powerpoints for Safety Training is a file sharing website for powerpoint presentations. I have, over the years, uploaded several powerpoints to this website and they are available to you free of charge.

Simply download them and use them as you need.

After seeing a report that almost 100,000 people had viewed these presentations and over 1,000 had downloaded them, I realized that I had probably never mentioned them here on this blog so, to make up for that, here the links for you to have a look and download if you feel that they might be of use to you.

Redesigned Website Launches

While, for the most part, I try to focus on information and training on this blog, there are times when I have to put in a little something about which is the company I work for and that brings you this blog. Today is such a day because we have just launched our new redesigned website with improved navigation, search and with easies and simpler checkout.

With over 10,000 safety items and almost $1,000,000 worth of stock, unparalleled service, same day shipping on any order received before noon, competitive pricing and more, would love to show you what we can do to make your workplace and home safer. Unlike many other “safety” products website out there, you won’t find toilet paper and lightbulbs on our site. We know that safety is specialized and that selling product isn’t enough. If you don’t get the right product for your application, you aren’t going to be properly protected. We have a staff that has been with us for a long-time and each and everyone is trained in safety so that we have a combined 200 years of experience.

Come have a look around. If you have questions, call us at (800) 213-7092. We will be glad to help solve any safety related issue you have.

Counterfeit PPE

According to an article on the British Safety Industry Federation website ( fake or counterfeit PPE is an increasing common issue in Britain. Personal Protective Equipment that doesn’t meet the standards for quality established by the BSIF are apparently showing up with the CE insignia on them even though they are manufactured with sub standard materials.

It would be the equivalent of a user purchasing a safety vest that is labeled “Class III” and finding out that the reflective material doesn’t meet the standard or having the background material fade within a couple of weeks.

I have personally seen such vests out there that claim to meet a certain standard which they don’t (not enough background material is usually the problem. The background material met the requirement BEFORE the reflective material was sewn on but once the reflective material was added, because it covered up some of the background material, there now wasn’t enough background material to meet the minimum requirement).

My question to you is… How big of a problem is this issue here in the USA? Have you seen or come across fake or counterfeit PPE? Where did you get it (store, distributor, individual, online)?

OSHA clarification on PPE mandate

On February 10th OSHA posted a new directive intended primarily for enforcement personnel but certainly of interest to employers, concerning when companies must provide PPE to their workers and what type of PPE it needs to be. It essentially tries to clarify and update the Employer Payment for Personal Protective Equipment rule that dates back to November 2007.

From the February 15th OSHA press release:

“These personal protective equipment standards require employers to provide – at no cost to workers – protective equipment, such as goggles and face shields that fit properly without restricting vision; earplugs and earmuffs when they will reduce noise to acceptable levels and are less costly than administrative and engineering controls; and respirators to protect workers from exposure to air contaminants. Additionally, the directive lists PPE and other items exempted from the employer payment requirements and includes questions and answers useful in clarifying PPE payment concerns. Visit OSHA’s Safety and Health Topics page on Personal Protective Equipment for more information.”

Is your protective garment providing adequate protection?

The old saying goes “The only thing that you can count on with certainty is change”. This is especially true when it comes to manufacturing processes and the general nature of the way work gets done.

Here’s the problem… Ten years, five year or one year ago when analyzing and assessing the correct PPE for a specific job or process, it was determined that a certain garment, let’s say the Dupont Tychem, was the adequate garment to be used in order to protect workers. Over time, however, the process has changed. New chemicals are introduced or concentrations have changed. More often than not, no one stopped to consider whether the Tychem was still the best garment for adequate protection.

Especially in the wake of an economic downturn where workers often have to wear more than one hat, no one has taken the time (or even thought about the fact that it needs to happen) to properly evaluate the adequacy of the PPE being used.

With a New Year starting, this might be a good time to take the time to do that. Most manufacturers have permeation guides available online now. Dupont for example has the permeation guide for all their garments available here. Find your chemical and it’ll let you know permeation times. Who knows, you might even find that you don’t need the level of protection you are presently providing and you can step down to a less expensive garment and be a hero to your boss?

Unsafe Conditions – The Deadly Dozen # 12

12. Improper personal attire

We round out the deadly dozen of the unsafe actions today. Much like the last unsafe action “Failure to wear the proper personal protective equipment” the final unsafe condition has to do with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Just because a worker is wearing PPE does not mean that they are safe. There are different types of PPE for different applications. A respirator cartridge that is meant to protect against particulates will not protect against vapors for example. Tyvek intended to protect against particulates is not going to protect against chemical splash. Nor are safety glasses going to protect against dust or chemical splash.

The Fix

The bottom line is that it is up to the worker as well as the employer to make sure that the PPE that they are wearing (or being given to wear) is the RIGHT PPE.

As a worker, you have a right to protect your health and with that right comes the obligation on the part of the employer to provide workers with the information needed in order to make an the proper assessment. Research, question and read. Find out what is the proper PPE and make sure that you are wearing it. Make sure that the level of PPE is adequate (if, for example, you need a P100 respirator and you are only using a N95, you are not adequately protected).

I have a small mirror on my desk here at the office. At the top of the mirror there is the following sentence: “Meet the person most responsible for your safety”. When all’s said and done, both with the Deadly Dozen of Unsafe Actions as well as the Deadly Dozen of Unsafe Conditions, the overarching lesson to take away is exactly that. Your health and safety is your responsibility. Laws and regulations are constantly made and enforced to make sure that employers do what they should to protect workers but ultimately it’s up to you, the worker, to make sure that everything necessary is being done to protect yourself and your co-workers.

If you are a consistent reader of this blog as well as other safety related website, conferences, shows, etc… then I am preaching to the choir. Spread the word and make sure that 2011 isn’t the year we regret not saying something with regards to safety.

Unsafe Actions – The Deadly Dozen # 12

Today we round out our unsafe actions deadly dozen.

To recap 1-11

1. Unauthorized use or operation of equipment.

2. Failure to secure or tie down materials to prevent unexpected movement.

3. Working or operating equipment too fast.

4. Failure to issue warnings or signals as required.

5. Using defective tools or equipment.

6. Removing guards.

7. Improperly using tools or equipment.

8. Standing in an unsafe place or assuming an improper posture (as in lifting).

9. Servicing moving equipment.

10. Riding equipment not designed for passengers.

11. Horseplay

And, finally, number 12

12. Failure to wear the proper personal protective equipment.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is specifically designed to protect workers. PPE includes such things as safety glasses, protective clothing, boots, gloves, respiratory protection, earplugs, hard hats and much, much more. As new technology and new materials are discovered, manufacturers produce new and better PPE to provide a greater degree of protection, comfort, dexterity as well as, in some cases, reduce the cost.

Employers are required by law to provide their employees with the PPE necessary to do their jobs effectively and safely. A lot of time and money has gone into finding ways to increase compliance on the part of workers. The most commonly cited reasons employees give for not wearing PPE include:

  • “It isn’t comfortable”
  • “I look dorky in it”
  • “I didn’t think it was necessary for this job”
  • “It’s too hot with it on”

The Fix

A lot of time and money has been spent (and continues to be spent) on finding ways to increase PPE compliance. A quick google search will turn up dozens of ideas designed to eliminate the above objections to PPE. I will cover only the top ones:

  1. PPE no longer has to look dorky. The days of boxy, square looking safety glasses are gone (although, if you still want them, they are certainly available). Today’s safety glasses are sleek and stylish, in many cases, reminiscent of high end sun glasses. Even without spending a fortune, glasses such as the Starlite glasses provide a lightweight, sleek, wrap-around style for as little as $1.26 a pair. A glance through the safety glasses on our website will show dozens of different styles at a variety of prices.
    What we are saying about safety glasses applies to a large percentage of other PPE now available on the market.
  2. New materials, such as breathable liquid-resistant fabrics are increasingly making PPE more comfortable to wear. Disposable coveralls are a perfect example of this. Traditional materials tended to quickly heat up causing the worker to sweat. The result was that workers didn’t like wearing them because they were hot and damp. Newer materials are breathable, keeping the wearer more comfortable while still providing an effective barrier against the chemicals and particles that workers need to protect against.
  3. Proper training, as well as posting the proper signs, letting employees know which PPE needs to be worn for what jobs can decrease the “I didn’t know” factor. Standardization of PPE for the various tasks can take the guesswork out of it as well.
  4. Offering workers choices is often a great way to increase compliance. When there is no choice about whether or not to wear the PPE, having a choice of which PPE to wear can often make the difference with many workers.
  5. Proper training is also key. Most workers, when fully aware of the dangers, are more than willing to wear the required PPE. Not knowing, it is a lot easier to “pretend” that everything is okay. Proper training, including visuals, drives home the necessity for the proper PPE.

Want more ideas? Here are a couple of suggestions:

  1. Join . This website is specifically designed for safety professionals. At the time of writing this post, some 2,823 members had joined. It provides a network for the exchange of ideas, information and more, all related to issues of safety in the workplace. Post questions, participate in discussions, read posts and interact with other safety professionals.
  2. Do an internet search with the key words “Safety Compliance”
  3. Join a local safety organization. In WA, for example, there is the Puget Sound Safety Summit which is “dedicated to forming a networked alliance of government, management, and labor to develop methods and solutions for continuous improvement of workplace safety, with the goal of reducing workplace injuries and accidents to zero.”
  4. Subscribe to blogs such as this one and post comments. All of us can benefit from each other.


Kimberly-Clark Personal Protective Equipment Selector

Check out

It’s a great little online tool to help you get the right gloves and/or protective clothing.

The interface looks like this:

If you opt for a search based on primary protection need, it will ask you to  select the type product category (apparel, eye protection, Gloves or masks & respirators) after which it will walk you through, step by step, based on a series of questions a process that we help you select the correct PPE.

In my case, for example, I walked through a series of questions to try to find the appropriate apparel for protection against Chromic Acid and was told that the Kleenguard A70 Chemical Spray Protection Apparel was the correct apparel to wear.

You can also opt to find out all the other PPE that is needed for that particular chemical by clicking the “By chemical Type” on the opening screen (shown above).

In the case of Chromic Acid, besides the apparel, it suggests three different types of gloves that Kimberly-Clark recommends for handling that particular chemical. Each is listed with the permeation rate and the permeation normalized breakthrough time.

Though this particular tool is limited to Kimberly-Clark products, it is nonetheless a great place to start because of the breadth of the Kimberly-Clark line. Personal protection is a huge part of what they do so they have a great selection to help you protect yourself or your workers as best you can.