A joint research study conducted by Utah Valley University Emergency Services Department and the Fire Smoke Coalition seeks to answer the question of what harmful effects the residue left behind on personal protective equipment used by firefighters after fighting fires might have. This study may impact proper care and replacement procedures for turnout gear and station wear, as well as the ongoing training performed by the Utah Fire and Rescue Academy to recruits and future NFPA standards. Regardless of the findings, damaged personal protective equipment should always be replaced, and PPE should regularly be inspected for signs of damage and properly laundered in a manner pursuant to their care instructions.
Archive for Safety
With the Affordable Care Act on everyone’s mind and the promise of affordable health insurance enrollment on October 1st, employers in a variety of high-risk industries are considering their options when it comes to making sure their employees are healthy and safe. However, the best way to reduce health care expenditures overall is to ensure a safe work environment. Whether your workforce involves scrubbing down floors and cleaning up biological hazards or working with high voltage equipment and dangerous chemicals, the best way you can save money is to provide your employees with the equipment they need to protect themselves from injuries and incidents. Providing the right equipment saves money on worker’s compensation claim costs, time lost due to sickness or injury, helps prevent expensive lawsuits from OSHA or employees due to employer neglect, and ensures that your employees trust you to work towards their best interests.
The health and welfare of your employees is the health of your company. As you decide what you can best do to promote your workers’ best interests while preserving your bottom line, remember that proper personal protective equipment is always worth the investment, and that an investment in the well-being of your employees is an investment in your company’s future.
Employers are required by law to provide their workplace that does not have serious safety and health hazards, and must try to eliminate or reduce hazards by making changes in the work environment as well as providing personal protective equipment and training to their employees. Improved ventilation systems, proper storage of chemicals in approved and rated cabinets, and regular testing of workplace environments, as well as proper treatment and records of work-related injuries and illnesses, is vital to ensure that workers maintain their right to a safe workplace. For more information on making your workplace a better, safer place to work, contact our safety experts and let us help you get the supplies you need at a reasonable price.
Now that the election is over, a subset of Americans are very deeply concerned that the apocalypse is nigh, whether because of the classic ‘Mayan apocalypse’ of December 21st, 2012 – more accurately, the end of the Mayan calendar cycle of creation, although no actual prophecies exist regarding an apocalyptic event to take place on this date any more than a millenial celebration has any particular significance – or because their favorite politician lost their candidacy and cut off their credit cards in the middle of the night and they just realized they don’t have a job now, or because they get twitchy after reading one too many Youtube comments. We’re not here to judge, but we are here to make sure that whether you’re planning for the zombie apocalypse or just expect your neighbors might take their threats a little too far one day, we’ve got the supplies you need.
First and foremost on our list of things you need is a good set of bags and backpacks to keep your stuff in – something that’s light enough to carry while on the move, but won’t rip away in case you’re dealing with hungry hordes of Wal-Mart shoppers (the living or the undead kind). Personally, I prefer this optimized buttpack I picked up at one point — it’s likely to last longer than I will, inside and out, and it’s a great way to stash and carry gear in a simple grab-and-go pack (although mine looks about as well organized as a sock drawer at this point.) The multiple attachment points mean I can easily attach it to a larger backpack, and it holds to capacity without straining the seams.
Once you’ve got a sturdy bag to hold what you need, you should pack it with anything you’d actually need in an emergency – medications you regularly take, first aid supplies you may have repackaged from a professional kit, a Swiss army knife, paracord, signalling gear, light, a compass, materials for starting fires, and other items practical to your personal situation. Bear in mind that whatever goes in there has to be something you’re willing to carry around all the time if necessary – every ounce of unnecessary weight will count against you. Don’t forget that with the colder temperatures and worsening weather around the corner, any blackout situations would create a need for cold-weather apparel as well!
Above all else, if you are concerned about the possibility of a survival situation in the near future, preparation in advance is key — start researching your options now so that you can be prepared for any possibility to come.
If you work in an industry that regularly handles or utilizes toxic chemicals, you probably keep Level A hazardous material suits or Level B chemical protection suits on hand in case the worst happens and you need protection in the event that an environment becomes toxic or dangerous. What you may not know is that many common brands of chemical protective apparel have a shelf life – the maximum recommended time that these suits be kept in storage before being replaced. As there is no currently known standard for determining the shelf life of chemical barrier fabrics in advance, this is dependent on verifying whether the fabric degrades under the normal conditions present in a proper storage environment – stored away from direct sunlight in a cool, dry location that is not subjected to cold or hot extremes. In particular, some chemical protective barrier fabrics such as those used in common disposable apparel have a shelf life of as little as three years or less.
Kappler has rigorously tested their Zytron film composite fabric lines and determined that even fifteen year old Zytron 500 material, tested against dichloromethane (methylene chloride) suffers no breakthrough in exposures over eight hours long. Likewise, these aged fabrics have been tested for physical properties and been determined to still meet original manufacturing specifications. As such, the shelf life of all Zytron products is undetermined, but is proven to be at least fifteen years.
When using a chemical protective suit that is still within its valid shelf life, be certain to perform a visual inspection to verify that it is safe to use, and in the case of vapor protective (level A) garments, perform an ASTM F1052 pressure test to verify that they still qualify as Level A garments. It is recommended that suits that no longer pass the visual inspection and/or pressure test be downgraded to ‘Training Use Only’ and be replaced immediately.
It is the responsibility of the wearer to ensure that all components, including fabric, valves, visors, gloves, zippers, seams, and suit-to component interfaces are in good working condition, and provide adequate protection for the operation and chemicals to be encountered. Any suit which does not pass the visual and/or pressure test, should be immediately removed from service. Yearly inspections of suits are recommended to ensure that suits in storage will be ready to meet emergency needs when the situation demands, and to determine what replacements are necessary.
If you are preparing a yearly inspection, call Anchortex Corporation today at 856-768-5240 and mention this post to receive a 10% discount off of current web prices on all Kappler items, as well as to receive quantity discounts on other safety products and supplies that you may need to reorder in order to meet OSHA regulatory requirements, or if you prefer, you can submit your quote request through our online form.
The National Fire Protection Association recommends that each piece of firefighting equipment sent to a fire be manned by a four man team, and that each town has a system in place to get fifteen firefighters to a fire scene in less than twelve minutes. Unfortunately, politically motivated budget slashing and austerity measures such as forcing volunteer firefighters to pay for their own equipment and fuel for fire trucks has had a major impact across the country, and even here in New Jersey.
ON May 5th, 2011, a six-alarm fire broke out that completely gutted Ferraro’s, a landmark Italian restaurant in Westfield, NJ. The Westfield, NJ fire department’s main firehouse is located just one hundred yards away from Ferraro’s, but its ladder truck, capable of pumping 1,100 gallons of water per minute, was not usable due to understaffing. The first ladder truck on the scene came from neighboring Cranford, NJ, and took a full twelve minutes to arrive.
Earlier this year, a house fire broke out in Westfield when only six firefighters were on duty; worse, three of them had gone to provide support to Springfield’s fire department. The three firefighters available could only fight the fire from outside because of New Jersey’s “two in, two out” rule, which states that two firefighters must remain outside for every two who enter a burning building, excepting to save a life. Without being able to enter the building and attack the blaze directly, extinguishing a fire can take significantly longer.
On May 23rd, the Westfield Fire Department was forced to wait fifteen minutes for firefighters from Plainfield, NJ to arrive before providing assistance to Ellen DiIorio and her husband, who had to be rescued by neighbors from a fire that destroyed her home. An emotional DiIorio later spoke before the Westfield Town Council, asking them to restore the town’s firefighting team to full strength. “I’m here to plead with you that we could have enough firefighters in Westfield to avoid a possible loss of human life,” she said. “I love the town of Westfield, and I loved my home, and I can never go home again.”
Vice Chairman of the Westfield Public Safety Committee Councilman Keith Loughlin (R), however, sees no problem. “I don’t consider us to have a manpower shortage,” he said. “We are adequately staffed.” Westfield Mayor Andy Skibitsky (R) agreed, pointing out that the town receives plenty of help from its neighbors. According to Loughlin, it costs the city $100,000 per year to hire a new firefighter, including training. This, along with declining revenue from taxes and decreases in state aid, has resulted in a hiring freeze and a 25% cut in the number of public workforce jobs in every role from firefighters to crossing guards to police officers to town hall custodial workers.
Westfield is currently applying for a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) federal grant that would allow the town to hire four more firefighters for at least two years. However, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has expressed his opinion that funding for firefighters, police officers, and teachers be cut in campaign speeches; it is unclear how, if elected, his presidency will affect the SAFER grant system, and the town of Westfield, NJ.
While the firefighters that work for public safety agencies are responsible for quenching many of the blazes that occurred on June 23rd in Colorado, the ten-man crew led by firefighter Eric Morris is one of a growing trend — private firefighting companies hired by insurance companies to protect homes with high-end insurance policies.
During the wildfire that destroyed over three hundred homes and caused the deaths of two people, Morris and his crew of nine helped to protect 35 homes within Colorado Springs. Morris and his crew worked for Chubb Personal Insurance, which provides fire protection coverage for homes typically valued between $400,000 and $3 million.
Insurance companies see the investment as highly advantageous, as paying thousands of dollars for federally rated and professionally equipped firefighters can save them millions of dollars in claims from homes that need to be replaced after a fire.
These private crews work closely with federal firefighting teams, reporting to incident commanders on the scene so that other firefighters can focus on other structures. In addition to providing direct support, they also focus on limiting the areas where fires can take hold around an insured structure.
Morris’ crew, employed by Wildland Defense Systems, deployed to the Colorado Springs area hours after the fire erupted, armed with three brush trucks capable of holding 450 gallons of water, a tanker truck capable of carrying 1,200 gallons. They focused on clearing flammable materials such as patio furniture, shrubs, and other ignitable materials away from insured homes, closed doors and windows, wet down houses and surrounding areas, and coated homes with a thin layer of fire-retardent gel mixed with water to provide additional protection from flying embers.
While all of the insured structures survived the blaze intact, neither Chubb Personal Insurance, Wildland Defense Systems, nor Morris would take credit, pointing out the efforts of over 1,500 firefighters in fighting the blaze and saving hundreds of homes from destruction.
OSHA has cited The Geo Group Inc. with six safety and health violations within its Meridian, Mississippi correctional facility. The facility houses 1,318 inmates in low, medium, and high security environments.
GEO Group was cited for a willful safety violation for knowingly failing to meet minimum staffing requirements, resulting in physical assaults by prison inmates on employees due to staff shortages; requiring corrections officers to perform head counts inside of housing units alone; failing to fully staff housing units according to the employer’s staffing plan; failing to fix malfunctioning cell door locks that could be opened from within by inmates but not from corrections officers from the outside; failure to fix faulty door lock status indicators that indicated doors were secured when they were not; and failing to provide training in basic self-defense and use of chemical agents to all employees exposed to contact to prisoners.
They were also cited for a repeat health violation in failing to conduct medical evaluations to determine the employee’s ability to use a respirator before requiring them to use the respirator in the workplace. (GEO Group’s Pompano Beach, Florida facility received a similar violation in November 2010.)
Other serious violations include failure to provide fit testing for employees required to wear a full face respirator; failure to properly store full face respirators to prevent damage from dust or chemical agents; failure to develop a written exposure control plan for employees exposed to bloodborne pathogens; failure to maintain procedures for evaluating incidents where employees were exposed to blood or other potential infectious materials; failure to ensure personal protective equipment such as gowns were used in the medical department to protect employee clothing from exposure to bloodborne pathogens; failure to conduct a hazard assessment for required personal protective equipment;
One other-than-serious safety violation, with no penalty assessed, was also included for failing to maintain a written energy control procedure for workers exposed to electrical shock hazards.
The citations and notifications for penalty are available on OSHA’s website:
At Anchortex Corporation, we work tirelessly to ensure that correctional officers have the supplies they need to perform their jobs safely, and encourage correctional facilities to take this as a reminder to check over their policies and procedures to ensure they are complying with OSHA standards for the safety of their employees. Please contact our sales department to request quotes on bloodborne pathogen protection supplies, including disposable examination gloves, institutional grade disposable gowns, and bloodborne pathogen resistant boots, full facepiece respirators, arc flash protective apparel and other personal protective equipment supplies for every working environment.
This month, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health celebrates the one-year-anniversary of Total Worker Health, a program focused around integrating occupational safety and health protection with health promotion in order to reduce incidents of worker injury and illness and advance health and well-being. The program is focused around finding ways to improve the health and well-being of workers in ways that go beyond traditional focuses of incident management, including developing a supportive and hazard free environment, and where workplace policies encourage healthier choices.
The role of the employer in ensuring the quality of life of their employees cannot be overlooked, not only by focusing on a safe environment, but by focusing on a friendly environment. Depression and anxiety can exacerbate existing health conditions or create new health issues, resulting in increased incidents of worker illness; stress and frustration can result in increased on-the-job accidents even in an otherwise safe working environment. NIOSH has been hard at work conducting research to identify and address risk factors in the workplace, and will be discussing their findings through a number of conferences and symposiums throughout the year.
Flame-resistant clothing is a necessity for employees working in environments where flash fires or explosions are a concern. There is a wide variety of fire retardant fabrics available to meet the needs of an HRC 1 or HRC 2 situation. Knowing the difference between these fabrics and their uses can help save your life.
DuPont Nomex is an inherently flame-resistant anti-static fabric that has been engineered to reduce nuisance levels of static. It will not ignite, melt, drip, or burn, and is self-extinguishing. These qualities make it ideal as an all-around fabric for applications in the petrochemical, gas, electric, and fire service industries, as well as for other professional uses. A single layer of 4.5 ounce Nomex has an NFPA 70E arc rating of 4.6, and qualifies as HRC 1 protection.
TenCate Advance combines the dependability of Nomex in situations that require flame resistance with the rugged strength and durability of Kevlar to form a uniquely hardworking fabric that provides uncompromising performance when you need it for strength and durability far surpassing either alone. A single layer of 7.0 ounce Advance has an NFPA 70E arc rating of 8.5, and qualifies as HRC 2 protection.
TenCate TecaSafe Plus
TenCate TecaSafe Plus is an inherently flame-resistant fabric that delivers NFPA 70E category 2 electrical arc protection while remaining comfortable and lightweight. It also meets the performance requirements of the NFPA 2112 – Standard on Flame-Resistant Garments for Protection of Industrial Personnel Against Flash Fire. This fabric gives exceptional value due to its excellent after wash appearance, good color fastness, durability, and long life cycle. A single layer of 7.0 ounce TecaSafe Plus has an NFPA 70E arc rating of 8.4, and qualifies as HRC 2 protection.
Reliant EMC (engineered modacrylic cotton) is an inherently flame-resistant knit fabric designed to smother flames when exposed to fiber. The protective qualities of modacrylic fiber are locked in and cannot be washed or worn out regardless of usage. This knit fabric combines the comfort, softness, and breathability of combed cotton with uncompromised fire resistant protection. Reliant has not currently been rated under NFPA 70E standards.
Indura is a 100% cotton fabric treated with a permanent flame-resistant finish. Indura offers affordable, comfortable protection and is most popular in industrial applications for protection against potential risks associated with welding and similar activities. Indura retains the properties of natural cotton for comfort and absorbancy purposes. A single layer of 7.0 ounce Indura has an NFPA 70E arc rating of 7.7, and qualifies as HRC 1 protection.
Indura Ultra Soft is a cotton / nylon blend of fabric treated with a permanent flame-resistant finish. The addition of high tenacity nylon increases the wear life of the garment significantly without compromising the garment’s comfort. Indura Ultra Soft fabric is designed to withstand regular industrial launderings and provides excellent protection from flash fires as well as electrical arc flash exposure. A single layer of 7.0 ounce Indura has an NFPA 70E arc rating of 8.7, and qualifies as HRC 2 protection.
FireWear is an inherently flame-resistant fabric blended from cotton and fibrous flame-retardant fiber designed to smother flames when exposed to fire. The FFR Fiber is designed to emit a noncombustible gas through microscopic pores in the fiber when the fiber is exposed to flame. This gas smothers flames much like a fire extinguisher. Firewear fabrics are blended with cotton and thus have many of the same benefits as cotton, including breathability and lightweight comfort. A single layer of 5.5 ounce FireWear has an NFPA 70E arc rating of 7.0, and qualifies as HRC 1 protection.
There are many choices for the user looking to purchase a flame resistant garment. Verify that the material you are purchasing is rated for the task you intend to perform; HRC 3 or 4 requirements usually require additional full layered suits, whereas one or two layers of the fabrics listed here is usually sufficient for HRC 1 or 2 requirements. For a more in-depth explanation of hazard risk categories, see my previous article, Understanding Hazard Risk Categories.
Some of the information in this article was provided with the assistance of Topps Safety Apparel, manufacturers of flame-resistant coveralls, jumpsuits, public safety uniforms, and other apparel. Anchortex Corporation is a full line leading distributor of Topps Safety Apparel.