Standards and the performance of personal protective equipment
—Sponsored article by CSA Group
While exposure to occupational hazards is often unavoidable, providing workers with the right protective gear can make the difference between safety and injuries—even fatalities. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is a last line of protection for workers against hazards, and the type of PPE will depend on the type of work, including working environment, conditions and necessary processes.
Proper use, selection and care of PPE is a critical part of the equation, but before PPE ends up in your workplace, it should be tested and certified to the applicable standards that define and meet minimum safety requirements.
CSA Group plays a role in this important workplace safety issue. As an expert source for product testing and certification for personal protective equipment, we offer a comprehensive program of standards solutions, testing and certification for PPE.
Hard toe boots and proper-fitting construction head gear come to mind when we think of PPE, but the range of products extends far beyond.
We published our first protective footwear standard in 1970, CSA Z195, which has evolved from impact and puncture protection to include additional requirements as defined by industry. Over the decades, our services in the PPE area have grown to include eye and face protection, hearing protection, industrial head protection, high visibility safety apparel, respiratory protection, and fall protection for those working at heights or have other fall hazards.
Ensuring PPE does its job
One size does not fit all when it comes to PPE. Each specific piece of equipment has unique properties and well-defined use and care requirements.
Simply put, the level of protection one piece of PPE can provide in one situation does not necessarily carry over into a different situation. What protects hands from chemical burns may not protect hands from heat burns. Therefore, it’s important to remember that wearing PPE is not enough. In order to ensure protection of your workers, several critical factors must be considered.
• Selection: PPE should be selected considering the type of hazard;
• Usability: PPE should be useable in the presence of other hazards;
• Training: workers should be adequately trained in the use and care of PPE;
• Storage: PPE should be stored safely and securely, and in a manner that protects the integrity of the equipment;
• Maintenance: PPE should be regularly inspected for effectiveness, and if defects are found it should be discarded immediately and replaced.
The risk of falling on the job is often associated with workers who perform their job duties on rooftops or scaling tall buildings. However, falls can occur from overhead platforms, elevated work stations, or even into holes in walls, floors or the ground. Generally, if a worker is at risk of falling three meters or more, a fall protection system is needed to ensure safety.
CSA Group is committed to providing a comprehensive suite of solutions for fall protection that covers equipment and training. Our standards are updated regularly in response to technological change and evolving safety concerns. We also test and certify fall protection equipment components to the applicable Z259 standards in Canada, and the corresponding ANSI/ASME standards in the US.
Hearing—the non visible workplace injury
Noise has long been recognized as an occupational hazard, yet many organizations don’t understand the point at which noise becomes more than just a part of everyday work life—it becomes a contributor to hearing loss. Workers in many occupational sectors, including manufacturing, mining, construction, transportation, and emergency services, often perform their jobs while exposed to high levels of occupational noise.
Long-term exposure to noise can result in both hearing loss and stress-related illness. In addition, noise can interfere with critical communications and warning signals. It can be a causal factor in work accidents by greatly reducing a worker’s ability to hear warning signals and impeding concentration. For these reasons, it’s critically important to identify these hazardous situations and implement preventative measures to help protect the hearing of workers.
Protection of hearing starts with implementing procedures for measuring and declaring noise exposure as well as establishing the appropriate management process for effective hearing loss prevention programs.
CSA Group recognizes the important of hearing protection as part of an overall occupational health and safety program. Several standards have been developed pertaining to workplace noise exposure, for identification of hazards and measurement and control of noise, as well as other relevant standards for hearing protection devices and workplace accident and disease investigation. Ensuring any threat to worker safety, including hearing, can be managed when the right processes and procedures are enforced.
Considering the PPE needs of first responders
Canada’s front-line emergency workers play a critical role in society by answering the call of duty without questions when people are in need. First responders require reliable and interoperable equipment that can be used with confidence for their protection. CSA’s PPE Standards play a key role in helping to achieve this objective.
In recent years, first responders have been actively involved in the development of a number of PPE standards such as CSA Z94.4 (Selection, Use and Care of Respirators) and CAN/CGSB/CSA-Z1610 (Protection of first responders from chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) events).
CSA Group worked with the Canadian General Standards Board to develop the Z1610 CBRN standard that specifies requirements for the selection, use and care of personal protective equipment for first responders who are responding to a CBRN incident, including deliberate releases and contagious outbreak events. This national standard has significant impact in assisting first responder organizations to do their jobs safer and with greater protection and functionality.
CSA Group and the Canadian General Standards Board are now working with the first responder community on a new PPE standards development project, CGSB/CSA Z1640—Personal Protective Equipment for Investigating and Dismantling Clandestine Drug Laboratories.
“We value are partnerships with the first responder community,” says Ron Meyers, CSA project manager, “and we look forward to working with them to further identify the most appropriate areas for future work in terms of national standards development.”
New testing and certification program for high visibility safety apparel
In March of 2015, CSA Group announced the launch of its testing and certification program for high-visibility safety apparel to the requirements of CSA Z96—High-Visibility Safety Apparel.
High-visibility apparel includes garments such as coveralls and vests and is intended to make the individual easy to see in low light conditions.
This type of apparel is used in construction, emergency response and leisure sports. Finished garments are tested and certified as assembled garments. Other high-visibility items such as retro-reflective stripes or bands, combined performance bands, and background materials may be certified as component parts of a garment.
“CSA Group is a leading provider of testing and certification services and standards development for high-visibility safety apparel for the Canadian market,”said Nashir Jiwani, CSA Group regional vice-president, Canada. “This program is part of CSA Group’s commitment to contributing to a better, safer world. The expanded services will help our clients to meet the requirements that help promote safer work environments in Canada.”
For more information on standards for Personal Protective Equipment visit our online store.