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FAQs

Do I need training how to wear RPE correctly?

For RPE to remain effective during use it should be integrated into operational procedures. You must ensure that RPE is properly used and not made ineffective by incorrect work practices or incorrect use.

You should ensure that RPE is used in the way it is intended to be used and instructed by the manufacturer.

It’s important RPE users are trained so they understand why they are required to wear RPE, which RPE to use, how to wear it correctly, when to wear it, when to change filters and other consumable parts, how to maintain the RPE in good condition, how to clean it, how to store the RPE when it’s not in use and when to replace it.

When should I replace my filters?

Particulate filters get clogged up and become harder to breathe through. Once this happens it may become difficult to breathe comfortably. It’s at this point when you should consider changing the filters.

Gas and vapour cartridge filters will start to let contaminant through once the filter has become dirty or physical damage has occurred. Inspection is required frequently to spot the early signs of this occurring.

Will I be able to talk whilst wearing a face mask?

The Scott Safety AVIVA half face mask features an enhanced integrated voice panel which benefits the wearer in that they can be heard by colleagues whilst wearing the mask.

Will my goggles fit comfortably whilst wearing RPE?

The AVIVA has a goggle pinch feature which allows comfortable integration with eyewear. The mask sits comfortably by pinching the mask over the bridge of the nose and aligning below goggles, eyewear or safety glasses.

How do I know that I am wearing the RPE correctly?

We would always recommend that a face-fit test to ensure their RPE facepiece is suitable.

Facepiece fit testing is a method of checking that a tight-fitting facepiece matches the wearer’s facial features and seals adequately to their face.

It is unlikely that one size of mask will fit all employees in a workplace. Facial hair coming into contact with the face seal area of a face mask can seriously affect the fit of the mask. A similar effect can be caused by: deep cuts or scars, heavy wrinkles, moles, glasses, goggles, hearing protectors with headbands, neck bands of a helmet or a head protector or fashion jewellery worn on the face.

Remember, people come in different shapes and sizes, so facial differences will mean that one kind of RPE is unlikely to fit all. The differences are even more significant between men, women, and people of different ethnicity. If the RPE does not fit, it will not protect the wearer.

How often should I test Fire Safety equipment?

The testing and maintenance of fire precautions is a vital responsibility of management. There are serious legal obligations to make sure that all Fire Safety precautions are maintained to a high working standard. It is also a legal requirement to keep an accurate record of these checks. This record should be kept in the form of a Fire Safety Log Book.

By law what Fire Training mustI give to my staff?

It is the responsibility of the management to make sure that staff are adequately training on what actions to do in the event of a fire. Training should be given at time of induction to the workplace or ideally in the first month of employment. It is down to the discretion of the management as to how often refresher training should take place, however it should be given at least once a year.

Training should be undertaken by a competent person and a record should be kept. It can be carried out in many ways such as in-house, class room based course or distance learning course.

How do I manage Fire Safety correctly?

Unfortunately one of the main causes of fatalities from fire is the failure of occupants of the building (both staff and members of the public) to take appropriate action when fire is discovered or a fire alarm is raised. The most effective way to combat this is effective management alongside appropriate staff training.

Fire routines regarding different actives that take place must be drawn up. The responsible person should also ensure that all Fire Safety features are in working order and that no undue fire risks are apparent.

A vital part of any Responsible Person’s duties is the training of staff. All staff members, including part time, temporary, contractors and cleaning staff must be familiar with the actions to be taken in the event of a fire. They must also know how to call the fire services, any main fire prevention measures and where the exits and exit routes are.

Is a Fire Risk Assessment a one-off process?

No. Fire Risk Assessments must be reviewed and amended regularly to meet any changes in circumstances or procedures. There is not a specific time scale given but it is widely excepted that the Fire Risk Assessment should be reviewed at least every 12 months.

What are the main points of a Fire Risk Assessment?

Fire Risk assessments can be broken down into the following points;

1. Indentify Fire Hazards

2. Indentify people at risk

3. Evaluate, reduce, remove and protect from risk

4. Record, plan, inform and train

5. Review and revise as needed.

What is a Fire Risk Assessment?

A Fire Risk Assessment is an evaluation of your place of work which will identify potential hazards and will determine any risks in your workplace.

By law, what Fire Safety Training must I give to my staff?

It is the responsibility of the management to make sure that staff are adequately training on what actions to do in the event of a fire. Training should be given at time of induction to the workplace or ideally in the first month of employment. It is down to the discretion of the management as to how often refresher training should take place, however it should be given at least once a year.

Training should be undertaken by a competent person and a record should be kept. It can be carried out in many ways such as in-house, class room based course or distance learning course.

Who is responsible for Fire Safety in a business?

If you are the owner, employer or landlord then you are responsible for Fire Safety and are classed as the ‘Responsible Person’. The Responsible Person must;

  • Carry out a Fire Risk Assessment.
  • Consider people who may be at particularly risk
  • Eliminate or reduce any Fire Risks as far as possible
  • Provide Fire precautions to deal with any remaining risk
  • Put in place any additional Fire Safety measures where flammable or explosive materials are stored
  • Create an emergency plan and document their findings
  • Review their findings as necessary.

What do each of the colours of signage mean?

Red – Prohibition Signs (Danger or Emergency, Do not do this); Fire Signs (Fire Equipment)

Blue – Mandatory Signs (Must do this, instructions)

Yellow – Warning Signs (Caution, warning of hazard or risk)

Green – Safe Condition (Positive action, no danger, safe)

Black – Information Signs (General information)

What does the shape of a safety sign mean?

Do you need a fit test for a hood?

According to HSE guidelines, loose fitting hoods do not require any form of fit testing.

Is it possible to wear prescription spectacles with a facemask?

Spectacles with side arms are incompatible with full-face masks. Side arms interfere with the face seal and can cause serious leakage. Scott facemasks allow fixing of special frames inside the visor.

It is possible to wear a face mask with facial hair?

Generally not. A good face seal will only be obtained if the skin in the region of the seal is smooth and without hair. Facial hair tends to lift the mask off the face and permit inward leakage of contaminated air. Stubble from even a short period without shaving may adversely affect the seal.

Do all food handlers need to wear protective clothing like gloves and hairnets?

It is regarded as good practice to wear protective clothing while preparing food. If clothing like gloves, aprons or hairnets are not worn it may not be an offence because this depends on the specific circumstances.

How often should PPE be replaced?

  • There is no legislation or Code of Practice stating the life expectancy of any PPE. In general it is recommended you follow the manufacturer’s instructions. The manufacturer must give the obsolescence deadline or period of obsolescence of PPE or its components. The date of obsolescence is the date from which the PPE becomes useless for its intended use or is no longer fit for its purpose. (Requirement under Annex II Article 1.4e, of EU PPE Directive 89/686, transposed in Ireland as European Communities (Personal Protective Equipment) Regulations 1993).
  • The manufacturer must provide all information necessary so that the user can determine a reasonable period of obsolescence. However, the manufacturer is not obliged to affix the date of manufacture on the product or on the instructions for use, although some may do this.
  • In general, manufacturers do give information on how to identify the “end of life”, a limiting date of use or a maximum service time.

How should PPE be stored?

  • PPE must be stored according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This is extremely important as leaving PPE lying around increases the risk of parts deteriorating by exposure to dirt, oil, UV rays, sunlight etc.

Do I have to keep providing PPE when employees say they have “lost” their PPE?

  • Draw up policies in relation to PPE
  • PPE policies should be simple e.g.

a) Adopt “new for old” system for disposable PPE – gloves, boots etc

b) Apply signing in / out procedure for special equipment – harness etc

c) Implement a points procedure for lost equipment as part of the employees’ ownership (as part of the disciplinary procedures)

To be successful, time is required to control and monitor PPE and detailed records must be kept.

When must PPE be used?

  • The fundamental principle is that personal protective equipment (PPE) should only be used as a last resort.
  • The safety and health of employees must be first safeguarded by measures to eliminate workplace risks at source, through technical or organisational means (e.g by substituting hazardous chemical ) or by providing protection on a collective basis (e.g providing scaffolding instead of harnesses).
  • Collective protective measures covering numbers of employees in a workplace must have priority over protective measures applying to individual employees.
  • If these measures are not sufficient, only then should PPE be used to protect against the hazards that are unavoidable.

What does PPE stand for?

PPE stands for personal protective equipment. PPE means any device or appliance designed to be worn or held by an individual for protection against one or more health and safety hazards.

Do employers have to provide personal protective equipment (PPE)?

The relevant regulations are the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992.

Regulation 4 states:
Every employer shall ensure that suitable personal protective equipment is provided to his employees who may be exposed to a risk to their health or safety while at work except where and to the extent that such risk has been adequately controlled by other means which are equally or more effective.

The accompanying guidance states:
Employers should, therefore, provide appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and training in its usage to their employees wherever there is a risk to health and safety that cannot be adequately controlled by other means.

In order to provide PPE for their employees, employers must do more than simply have the equipment on the premises. The employees must have the equipment readily available, or at the very least have clear instructions on where they can obtain it.

By virtue of Section 9 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, no charge can be made to the worker for the provision of PPE which is used only at work. Section 9 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 states: “No employer shall levy or permit to be levied on any employee of his any charge in respect of anything done or provided in pursuance of any specific requirement of the relevant statutory provisions”. Section 9 applies to these Regulations because they impose a ‘specific requirement’ – i.e. to provide PPE.

Are first-aiders allowed to give tablets and medication to casualties?

First aid at work does not include giving tablets or medicines to treat illness. The only exception to this is where aspirin is used when giving first aid to a casualty with a suspected heart attack, in accordance with currently accepted first-aid practice. It is recommended that tablets and medicines should not be kept in the first-aid box.

Some workers carry their own medication that has been prescribed by their doctor (eg an inhaler for asthma). If an individual needs to take their own prescribed medication, the first-aider’s role is generally limited to helping them to do so and contacting the emergency services as appropriate.

However, this does not apply to the administration of prescription only medication specified in Schedule 19 of the Medicines Regulations 2012, where this is for the purpose of saving life in an emergency. Adrenaline 1:1000 up to 1 mg for intramuscular use in anaphylaxis is an example.

Where a first aid needs assessment identifies that Schedule 19 medication may be required to be administered in an emergency, the employer should consider providing workplace first aiders with additional training in their use.

Do I need to record incidents requiring the attention of a first-aider?

It is good practice to provide your first-aiders and appointed persons with a book in which to record incidents they attend. The information can help you identify accident trends and possible areas for improvement in the control of health and safety risks. It can be used for reference in future first-aid needs assessments. The record book is not the same as the statutory accident book though the two might be combined.

Employers, self-employed people and those in control of premises have a duty to report some accidents and incidents at work under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR)

What should be kept in the first-aid room?

Typical examples of the equipment and facilities a first-aid room may contain are:

  • a sink with hot and cold running water;
  • drinking water and disposable cups;
  • soap and paper towels;
  • a store for first-aid materials;
  • foot-operated refuse containers, lined with yellow, disposable clinical waste bags or a container suitable for the safe disposal of clinical waste;
  • an examination/medical couch with waterproof protection and clean pillows and blankets;
  • a chair;
  • a telephone or other communication equipment; and
  • a record book for recording incidents attended by a first-aider or appointed person

Do the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 cover large events such as concerts?

Only in so far as employers are responsible for providing first aid for their employees. At events such as concerts, it is the event organiser’s responsibility to ensure the availability of medical, ambulance and first-aid assistance as appropriate for all those involved.

Do I need to make first-aid provision for members of the public?

The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 do not require employers to provide first aid for members of the public. However, many organisations such as schools, places of entertainment, fairgrounds and shops provide a service for others. HSE strongly recommends that employers include the public in their first-aid needs assessment and make provision for them.

What first-aid equipment should be provided?

Once an assessment of first-aid needs has been carried out, the findings can be used to decide what first-aid equipment should be provided in the workplace. The minimum requirement is a suitably stocked first-aid box, see FAQ ‘First-aid box’. The assessment may indicate that additional materials and equipment are required such as scissors, hypoallergenic microrpous adhesive tape, disposable aprons and individually wrapped, moist wipes. They may be put in the first-aid box or stored separately.

If mains tap water is not readily available for eye irrigation, at least one litre of sterile water or sterile normal saline (0.9%) in sealed, disposable containers should be provided. When the seal has been broken, containers should not be kept for reuse. Containers should also not be used beyond their expiry date.

What should a first-aid box in the workplace contain?

The decision on what to provide will be influenced by the findings of the first-aid needs assessment. As a guide, where work activities involve low hazards, a minimum stock of first-aid items might be:

  • a leaflet giving general guidance on first aid
  • individually wrapped sterile plasters (assorted sizes), appropriate to the type of work (hypoallergenic plasters can be provided if necessary);
  • sterile eye pads;
  • individually wrapped triangular bandages, preferably sterile;
  • safety pins;
  • large sterile individually wrapped unmedicated wound dressings;
  • medium-sized sterile individually wrapped unmedicated wound dressings;
  • disposable gloves

Does a person using a prescription glasses need safety spectacle?

Yes. Normal prescription glasses do not have the impact resistance, physical design and UV protection which are needed in the workplaces. So, do not provide the needed protection.

How is a goggle different from a spectacle?

A spectacle generally has a lens mounted on a frame with side arms and it covers the maximum of the area around our eyes while in a goggle, the lens is mounted on shroud and it completely seals the area around eyes. Goggles generally have headbands for better fit.

When should i carry out a risk assessment?

The simple answer to this question is that you should carry out an assessment when you suspect that there is a risk.

The assessment needs to be of the risks created by the work, not the substances. It is a mistake to think that a risk assessment need only consist of a collection of manufacturers health and safety data sheets. This is often caused by a failure to understand the difference between a hazard and a risk.

Hazard – The potential to cause harm.

Risk – The likelihood that the harm will occur in practice.

A good analogy is a bottle of household bleach. The hazard is the bleach itself, but there is very little risk when the bottle is in a cupboard, but that risk increases if the bottle is left on the edge of a work surface with the lid off.

There is a raft of legislation relating to risk assessment including:

Section 2. Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, General Duties of Employers Employers are required to ensure, so far is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of all his employees. This does not implicitly mean that you have to carry out a risk assessment, but it would be difficult to comply with the regulation without having assessed the risks.

Regulation 3. Management of Health & Safety at Work Act 1992. A more explicit set of regulations that require risk assessments to be carried out.

Regulation 6. Control of Substances Hazardous To Health Regulations (COSHH). An employer shall not carry on any work which is liable to expose any employees to any substance hazardous to health unless he has made a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks created by that work to the health of those employees and of the steps that need to be taken to meet the requirements of these Regulations.

What respirator should I use to protect against vehicle exhaust?

There is no simple answer to this question as there will normally be Oxides of Carbon and Nitrogen in the mixture of exhaust gases which cannot be filtered out.

The only way to protect against all the contaminants in vehicle exhaust would be with either a supplied air system or self contained breathing apparatus (SCBA). This solution is often not practicable so a compromise solution has to be reached. One option is a 3M half mask fitted with 3M™ 2128 Filters. These filters will filter out fine particulates and offer relief from nuisance levels of acid gas and organic vapours in the exhaust.

How long will my gas/vapour filters last?

The life expectancy of a filter will vary from one job to another and is influenced by a variety of factors including the exposure time and location of the job. As long as the hazard has good warning properties, i.e. smell or taste at a lower level than the WEL – HSE publication HSG53 offers additional guidance to users – a filter can be used until breakthrough occurs, however this should not be routinely relied on.

When should ear plugs be worn as opposed to ear muffs?

Many people find ear plugs to be more comfortable to wear over long periods of time. Also, they do not interfere with other types of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as powered respirators. For some frequencies, ear plugs can also offer higher attenuation than ear muffs. To determine the most suitable type of hearing protection, a noise assessment should be undertaken using a sound level meter.

Do darker sunglass lenses provide more UV protection than lighter lens tints?

Darker sunglasses decrease the amount of visible light that passes through the lenses compared with lighter lens tints, but they don’t necessarily provide greater protection from UV rays (which are invisible). For adequate protection, have your optician make sure your sunglasses block 100 percent UV, regardless of the color of the lenses.

Do I need to worry about infrared rays?

Infrared rays are located just past the red portion of the visible light spectrum. Though infrared radiation produces heat, most experts agree that the sun’s infrared rays do not pose a danger to the eyes.

What exactly are UV rays?

Ultraviolet (UV) rays are located just past the violet portion of the visible light spectrum; sunlight is the main source.

UV light is broken into three different types: UVA, UVB and UVC.

  • UVA has longer wavelengths and passes through glass easily; experts disagree about whether or not UVA damages the eyes.
  • UVB rays are the most dangerous, making sunglasses and sunscreen a must; they don’t go through glass.
  • UVC rays do not reach the Earth because its atmosphere blocks them.

I am doing some metal arc welding (MIG) on heavy metals (steel and steel alloys), what shade of lens should I fit to the welding faceshield?

The choice of lens shade will be in the range 10 to 14 dependent on the current being used.

10 for 80-100 amps 11 for 100-175 amps 12 for 175-300 amps 13 for 300-500 amps 14 for over 500 amps

Which lenses are UV protective?

All lenses will provide some level of protection against ultraviolet light as they are a physical barrier, smoked lens will provide more because they allow less light through in the first instance. To get the best levels of protection, lenses that have been manufactured using a special additive that filters UV light in the 400nm range should be used. These are commonly referred to as UV400 lenses.

What impact speed will goggles withstand?

The maximum that the standard allows for goggles to withstand is a 270mph (430kph) impact from a 6mm steel ball. The amount of impact energy that the ball hits with has been determined as being a representative real incident. The shock from this impact has to be absorbed by the goggle body and the face.

I am cutting some stone which seems to be making some very fine dust, what type of eye protector protects against fine dust?

A goggle that has the marking ”5” on the frame. Usually this will be an unvented body with an anti-mist/fog lens fitted. As well as the eye protection you will need to think about some respiratory protection.

My goggles are always misting up, what can I do?

As a goggle is enclosing the part of the face, when you are working, moisture will build up inside the goggle. This will result in fogging of the lens, unless you have anti-mist treated lenses. Even with these you will get some build up of moisture on the lens eventually. If wiping the lens dry you will eventually wipe the coating off, so drying must be done with care.

I have got a lot of work to do outside, why can’t I just wear my normal sunglasses?

Normal sunglasses have only been developed to offer filtering protection and will not give you any protection from impact and may not have good optical properties. Spectacles that have a filtering performance of 5-2.5 for instance have been assessed against the European Standard for Industrial Sunglare filters, EN172, as well as EN166, the Industrial Eye Protection Standard which requires the optical properties to be assessed.

What is the best type of hearing protection for staff with an existing hearing loss?

Users with an existing hearing loss benefit most from using ‘dynamic’ (level-dependent) hearing protection. With this approach a user’s communication is enhanced, which in turn should lead to better compliance.

What are the different types of hearing loss?

There are several degrees of hearing impairment:

Mild hearing loss

– Unable to hear soft sounds

– Difficulty understanding speech in noisy environments

Moderate hearing loss

– Unable to hear soft and moderately loud sounds

– Considerable difficulty in understanding speech, particularly in background noise

Severe hearing loss

– Some loud sounds are audible

– Communication without a hearing aid is impossible.

Why is hearing protection important?

Loud noise is dangerous and the impact it can have on a person’s hearing is irreversible. Exposing your ears to a 100 dB (decibel) noise – i.e. the noise levels of industrial equipment or an MP3 player at full volume – damages the inner ear, even if experienced for just 15 minutes. Working unprotected in loud environments for several hours at a time is even more risky.

The problem is simple: once destroyed, the microscopic hair cells of the inner ear do not grow back. Neither can these crucial tiny hairs be artificially recreated by any medical process. The consequence is permanent hearing loss and a highly frustrating ringing in the ears (tinnitus).

The negative effects don’t stop there. In addition to reduced hearing capability, the consequences of exposure to noise include: stress and nervousness; reduced concentration and quality of sleep; degraded performance and productivity; increased risk of workplace accidents; difficulty in communicating; a feeling of isolation and increased medical expenses.

Do I have a noise problem at work?

This will depend on how loud the noise is and how long you are exposed to it. As a simple guide you will probably have to do something about noise if any of the following apply:

  • Is the noise intrusive – like a busy street, a vacuum cleaner or a crowded restaurant – for most of the working day?
  • Do employees have to raise their voices to carry out normal converation when about 2 metres apart for at least part of the working day?
  • Do employees use noisy powered tools or machinery for more than half an hour each day?
  • Do you work in a noisy industry, eg construction, demolition or road repair; woodworking; plastics processing; engineering; textile manufacture; general fabricattion; forging, pressing or stamping; paper or board making; canning or bottling; foundries?
  • Are there noises due to impacts (such as hammering, drop forging, pneumatic impact tools etc), explosive sources such as cartridge-operated tools or detonators, or guns?

What is Tinnitus?

Involuntary noises in the ear such as ringing, often associated with hearing loss.

What are the 3 action levels of noise?

In accordance with the 2006 Noise at Work Regulations The action levels are:

First Action Level A daily personal noise exposure of 80dB(A)

Second Action Level A daily personal noise exposure of 85dB(A)

Maximum Exposure Unit value 87dB

Peak Action Level 1st Action 135dB

Peak Action Level 2nd Action 140dB

What does SNR stand for and how do you use it?

SNR stands for Simplified Noise Level Reduction (often referred to as Single Number Rating). It is a rating given to an ear defender that is subtracted from the overall sound measurement to calculate the sound pressure level at the ear when wearing this particular ear-defender.

What is the difference between ANSI and EN cut standards?

American National Standards Institute (ANSI) testing provides another way of measuring the cut perfomance of a glove. Testing differs from EN388 in the way in which testing is performed, and the performance levels do not exactly equate to each other. For example an EN388 cut level 3 may be an ANSI cut level 2.

What is EN388?

EN388 is a European Standard (EN) that summarises four different performance characteristics in a simple pictogram. For example, a glove with the performance levels indicated as 4331 would have a level 4 abrasion resistance, level 3 blade cut resistance, level 3 tear resistance and level 1 puncture resistance.

Are ATG gloves launderable? How? How many times?

As part of the handcare program all our gloves are post-washed to ensure they are fresh out of the pack as cetificed by Oeko-Tex. They are also designed to be laundered up to 6 times.

How do I identify the correct chemical glove?

First, obtain a copy of the material safety data sheet for the chemical you are working with. This will tell you the main ingredients of the chemical. You may then refer to the manufacturers chemical resistance data which will report performance level for the chemicals. But note that the Standard for chemical protection, EN374, only tests permeation and does not include information about degradation.

Is it a legal requirement to use antibacterial soap, antiseptic wipes or disinfectants?

No. Washing hands using regular soap and warm water and proper hand washing technique will be enough to ensure hands are clean. Antiseptic wipes and alcohol hand disinfectants are only effective when used on physically clean hands and are completely inactivated by any organic matter (e.g. pieces of food).

What should be provided for washing and drying hands at the hand washing sinks?

There should be an adequate supply of hot and cold running water, non-perfumed soap in appropriate dispensers and a suitable method of hand drying (e.g. paper towels from a dispenser, hand driers or cabinet roller towels). Hand driers are not suitable for use in food preparation areas.

How hot should the water be for hand washing?

The temperature of the water is not as important as the technique that is used. However, it is important that the water is not so hot that hands cannot be held under the water for a sufficient length of time to ensure they are properly clean.

What is the proper hand washing technique?

Hands should be washed for at least 10-15 seconds as follows:
• Wet hands under warm running water
• Use enough soap to form a good lather
• Rub all parts of hands with soap and water
• Lather for at least 10-15 seconds, vigorously and thoroughly rubbing all hand surfaces, including the fingertips and thumbs
• Rinse hands thoroughly with running water
• Dry hands thoroughly

Is it a legal requirement to use plastic gloves when handling raw or cooked food?

No. It is not a legal requirement to wear plastic gloves when handling either raw or cooked food. Proper and frequent hand washing is critical to ensure safe food. Plastic gloves can be used but it is important to remember that gloves can be a source of contamination if certain rules are not followed:

  • Hands must be clean before putting on gloves
  • Gloves must be changed regularly and properly disposed of
  • If gloves are used for certain duties such as cleaning, handling raw food, waste or money, they must always be disposed of before starting another activity

NOTE: A food handler should question if there is any benefit in using disposable gloves for the particular activity before putting gloves on.

How do you decide if someone is ‘competent’ to work at height?

You should make sure that people with sufficient skills, knowledge and experience are employed to perform the task, or, if they are being trained, that they work under the supervision of somebody competent to do it.

In the case of low-risk, short duration tasks involving ladders, competence requirements may be no more than making sure employees receive instruction on how to use the equipment safely (eg how to tie a ladder properly) and appropriate training. Training often takes place on the job, it does not always take place in a classroom.

When a more technical level of competence is required, for example drawing up a plan for assembling a complex scaffold, existing training and certification schemes drawn up by trade associations and industry is one way to help demonstrate competence.

What is meant by ‘collective’ and ‘personal’ fall prevention measures?

Collective protection is equipment that does not require the person working at height to act to be effective. Examples are permanent or temporary guardrails, scissor lifts and tower scaffolds.

Personal protection is equipment that requires the individual to act to be effective. An example is putting on a safety harness correctly and connecting it, via an energy-absorbing lanyard, to a suitable anchor point.

I’ve heard people talk about the ABCDs of Fall Protection. What is that?

A typical personal fall arrest system is made up of four necessary components. The ABCDs of Fall Protection is a commonly used abbreviation to remember the following four components.

Anchorage
The anchorage is the secure point of attachment. Anchorage connectors vary by industry, job, type of installation, and structure. It must be able to support the intended loads and provide a sufficient factor of safety.

Body Support
A full body harness is the most common type of body support. Harnesses distribute fall forces over the upper thighs, pelvis, chest, and shoulders and provide a connection point on the worker for the personal fall arrest system.

Connector
A connector, such as a shock-absorbing lanyard or a self-retracting lifeline, connects a worker’s harness to the anchorage.

Descent/Rescue
These are devices used to raise or lower a fallen or injured worker to safety or retrieve the worker from a confined space. It is not uncommon for this component to be overlooked.

What is fall clearance and swing fall?

Fall clearance is the minimum vertical distance a worker needs in the event of a fall to safely arrest the fall and avoid striking the ground or an object below. It’s crucial to understand that fall clearance is more than just the simple measurement from a worker to the nearest obstruction. Other factors to consider include deceleration distance, the height of the worker, and whether a shock-absorbing lanyard or self-retracting lifeline is being used. In fact, a correct calculation could mean the difference between serious injury and a safely arrested fall.

In addition to wearing hearing protection, what measures can you take to protect yourself from high noise levels?

If it is not possible to reduce the level of noise at the source by moving either yourself or the equipment, or by using sound barriers, then you should wear adequate ear protection.

How does exposure to high noise levels damage your hearing?

The length and number of times you are exposed to high levels of noise determines the extent of the damage to your hearing. High noise levels cause damage to the ear drum and other sensitive parts of your inner ear.

How do you know when the noise level to which you are exposed is potentially hazardous

Levels of noise over 85 decibels, averaged over an eight-hour workday, are potentially hazardous to your hearing. When noise levels are painful or are loud enough to interfere with your ability to hear others speaking at a normal conversational volume this is an indication that levels are potentially hazardous.

How can you protect your hearing when arc welding?

Earplugs and earmuffs keep metal sparks and airborne particles from entering your ear canal and protect your hearing from the effects of excessive noise.

Is it safe to weld without a welding helmet for a brief period of time, such as during tack welding?

Even brief exposure to UV rays can result in a burn to the eyes known as “Welders Flash” which may not be evident until several hours after exposure. It causes extreme discomfort and can result in swelling, fluid excretion from the eyes and even temporary blindness. Normally, this condition is temporary, but repeated overexposure to UV radiation can result in permanent eye damage.

What are the two forms of radiation given off by the welding arc?

The two types of radiation are Infrared (IR) and Ultraviolet (UV) radiation. IR radiation can cause retinal burning and cataracts. IR can usually be felt as heat. UV radiation, which cannot be felt, can cause an eye burn known as “Welder‘s Flash.”

What types of gloves are suitable for protecting your hands while welding?

Heavy, flame-resistant gloves (from materials such as leather) should always be worn to protect your hands and wrists from burns, cuts and scratches. As long as they are dry and in good condition, they will offer some insulation against electric shock.

What types of footwear are recommended for welders?

Leather boots with six- to eight-inch ankle coverage are the best foot protection. Where heavy work is done, safety-toe protection boots should be worn. Metatarsal guards over the shoe laces can protect them from falling objects and sparks.

Is it necessary to wear safety glasses if you are already wearing a welding helmet?

Even when wearing a helmet, Z87.1 approved safety glasses with side shields, or goggles, should always be worn to protect your eyes from flying particles.

What protective clothing is needed in arc welding?

Protective clothing needed for welding includes general fire resistant clothing, safety glasses, shoes, gloves, helmet and leathers.

How can I make my boots last longer?

Dubbin and boot polish will extend the life of the leather and help the boots look newer for longer. It will repel water and keep the leather from drying out in warmer conditions.

Why are my soles falling apart?

If boots are stored in dark / humid conditions for a prolonged period the sole compound deteriorates. It is better to wear your boots regularly.

When must high-visibility clothing be worn?

If a construction site has a high-visibility policy then you must follow it. Your employer will provide the equipment and you do not have to pay for it (so long as you look after it and make it last a reasonable time).

High-visibility clothing should be worn in all construction locations where vehicles or plant are operating. This includes drivers when they leave their vehicle. For routine site use it is often sufficient for a tabard (sleeveless top) to be worn.

Some construction operations – for example temporary traffic management workers need a higher standard of high-visibility. This is because public vehicles are moving nearby at higher speed than most construction plant, meaning that drivers need to see hazards from further away to give them time to react. Because of this the requirement includes high-visibility long sleeved jacket and high-visibility trousers.

Is it okay to wear riggar boots on a construction site?

Over recent years rigger boots have become popular because they are easy to put on and are a cross between lace up boots and wellingtons. However some companies have found that wearers of rigger boots are much more likely to suffer twisted or sprained ankle injuries. They think this is because rigger boots are a looser fit and the wearer is less able to prevent the foot from twisting to the side on uneven ground. This is the reason that some contractors will not allow them on site. This is an acceptable argument and you need to understand and comply with this rule.

Lace up boots are not normally suitable for licensed asbestos work within an enclosure.

There is a history of cement burns where cement has gone into the safety shoe or boots and wellington boots may provide more protection for groundwork using cement.

Do i have to wear safety footwear on a construction site?

Yes. Construction workers are expected to wear protective footwear whilst on site and doing heavy work. The bones in the foot are quite delicate and easily damaged and any muscle or tendon damage can prevent normal movement for several months. Steel toecaps (or equivalent) protect against dropped objects. Midsole protection (usually a steel plate) protects against puncture or penetration if you tread on a nail. If you need to enter or work on a construction site your employer will provide a basic standard of safety footwear. You do not have to pay for this so long as you look after it and make it last a reasonable time. If there are medical reasons why you cannot wear basic safety footwear your employer will pay for suitable kit.

Ensure any PPE you buy is ‘CE’ marked and complies with the requirements of the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002. The supplier/manufacturer should be able to tell you if the PPE is suitable for the type of task.

Is it okay to wear shorts on a construction site?

If the site has a policy on clothing that does not allow shorts then you are expected to follow this rule.

Clothing needs to protect against hazards on site. The main reason for protecting the lower legs is to help guard against cuts, grazes and splinters etc in an environment where any skin damage can lead to infection. Some trades need to keep skin covered for other reasons – eg arc welders are exposed to high levels of ultra violet light that will cause skin damage.

During summer on very bright days it is important to protect against over exposure to sunlight which can cause skin cancer. Cases of malignant melanoma have increased dramatically in recent years.

During cold weather it is important to keep warm, especially when, for example, working at height where the cold can distract and lead to loss of concentration.

Are Safety helmets compulsory?

If there is no risk of injury to the head, then hard hats are not required by law. However, on almost all construction sites, despite controls being put in place, there will almost always be situations where a risk of head injury remains. Where there are such risks, for example, from falling objects or hitting the head against something, suitable head protection should be provided and worn (except for turban-wearing Sikhs). Where turban-wearing Sikhs are working in areas where a significant residual risk of head injury remains, employers should pay particular attention to the control measures that they have in place.

What is ‘suitable’ head protection?

Head protection should:

  • be in good condition. If it’s damaged, throw it away
  • fit the person wearing it and be worn properly
  • not stop you wearing hearing protectors as well (when needed)
  • only be obtained from a reputable supplier – there are fake hard hats on the market

Why is sock fit important?

Simple: if your socks don’t fit your feet, you will not be comfortable, and it will interfere with your enjoyment of any activity, regardless of whether it’s work related and or recreationally driven. Socks that rub against your feet, no matter if it’s at the heel, toe or sole, can cause blisters. Those issues can be avoided by wearing great fitting socks.

What socks are best to wear i cooler weather / winter?

The basic concept you look for in cold weather clothing also applies to socks. The best fabrics offer insulation from the cold and allow the body to release perspiration. Thicker socks are generally warmer because their large loop knit construction traps more air which provides warmth and insulation from the cold. Socks that wick moisture also help keep feet warm and dry.

What socks are best to wear in hot weather / summer?

While a cotton shirt feels cool against your skin in hot weather, cotton is one of the worst fibers to have against your feet in hot weather. Cotton is extremely moisture absorbent, and once your foot starts to sweat, cotton socks will absorb that sweat and hold it against your foot.

How do I care for my leather boots?

Clean them after each wearing; wipe them down with a damp – not wet – cloth and allow them to air dry thoroughly between wearings. Dry your boots carefully when wet and avoid abrupt temperature changes. Regularly condition your leather boots to help them maintain the original look and feel. Leather boots can be polished with a matching boot cream polish and also treated with water repellant.

What is a composite toe?

A composite toe is essentially the same as a steel toe; it is a non-metallic and non-magnetic safety toe cap that is lighter in weight than a steel toe cap. The composite toe meets the same ANSI/ASTM safety requirements as a steel toe.

Which is better, a steel toe or a composite toe?

Both styles of safety toe caps offer the wearer a measure of protection because each meets ANSI/ASTM safety requirements. Steel toe boots tend to be a little heavier than composite toe ones, but many people feel that a steel toe cap affords them more protection than a composite toe. In the end, your personal preferences will be instrumental in making the decision as to which one you choose.

How do I know which boot I need?

The first thing you should do is determine what you will use the boots for (work or recreation or both). Then you should decide what type of environment you will wear them in (indoor or outdoor, wet or dry, cold weather or warm temperatures). By examining these two considerations, you will have a good idea about what type of boot you should purchase. If you still are unsure, one of our team will happily assist if you call: 01772 691000

What’s the difference between men’s and women’s sizing?

A general rule of thumb is that a woman’s shoe or boot size is two sizes smaller in a man’s size; that is, a woman’s size 9 would be a men’s size 7. Some shoe or boot manufacturers, however, recommend that a woman go down only one size with their products.

Which lacing system is best?

All of the lacing systems have their strengths but which one is the best will be largely a matter of personal preference of the wearer.

Why is it important for socks to wick away moisture?

Socks that wick moisture keep your feet dry and comfortable. It is moisture against the foot that causes the friction that creates blisters on your foot; so a good way to prevent blisters is to wear socks that wick moisture away from your foot.