Environmental & Safety Blog


Holiday season is party season - company parties, church potlucks, Christmas pageants at elementary schools, and festive gatherings with friends and families. Each of these occasions requires its own dress code, and like it or not, wearing heals, and/or ties is often the requisite for the occasion. Working in industry is not so very different, because it also dictates its own form of dress code. But unlike party-wear which can be optional, mandatory dress in industry is enforced by OSHA whenever Personal Protective Equipment is involved.
When I was a young child, my father worked at one of the industrial plants in Calvert City, KY. That was long before the dawning of OSHA, and much longer still before OSHA had refined its directive enough to strongly enforce its standards. Back then, there were no company issued respirators, just face masks with disposable foam-rubber inserts that acted as filters. Safety glasses were constructed of heavy metal frames with glass lenses and flip out side panels to protect the eyes between the brow and temple (very attractive, let me tell you!). Usage of either of these forms of personal protective equipment was optional. While most employees did not choose to don any form of PPE, my father did. Always. 
Fast forward to December 2012, and the usage of personal protective equipment is no longer optional. Exposure to carcinogens, metal dust and other forms of eye irritants, hazardous chemicals, and other potentially hazardous conditions demand the usage of various forms of PPE. As a safety professional, it is your responsibility to ensure that your employees are equipped with appropriate PPE to fulfill their job function. As of January 2009, OSHA was granted the jurisdiction of being able to  multiply any fines related to personal protective equipment violations by the number of employees, rather than issuing one practice-wide citation. Non-compliance is not only not optional, it's not cheap!
So, how do you know if your employees are properly dressed? The OSHA standard for PPE gives a general overview of PPE requirements. Additionally, OSHA has also published  supplementary information for download that helps employers gauge the types of PPE needed in order to be compliant. If you are still unsure whether or not you are in compliance, give us a call, we can help.
I remember thinking as a child how funny I thought my Daddy looked in those cumbersome old glasses and mask. As it turned out, he only worked in that plant for six years and had to quit because of a back injury unrelated to his job. It can't be said whether it was because of his choice to wear the PPE, because of his shortened tenure in that position, or because he never smoked, but as it turned out, he was one of only two men in his work unit (totaling about twenty men) that did not eventually die from cancer and/or lung disorder. There is no question that wearing proper PPE saves life and limb. The question is: are your employees dressed for the occasion?


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