MRO Magazine

Personal Protective Equipment: From Head to Toe

Using your head on the job is just one way to keep safe, but it’s also important to know that standards are helping reduce the severity of a wide range of injuries, from head to toe.


Health & Safety

April 1, 2013
By MRO Magazine

Using your head on the job is just one way to keep safe, but it’s also important to know that standards are helping reduce the severity of a wide range of injuries, from head to toe.

Your eyes face risks on a daily basis. On many worksites, the risks to your eyes and head are greatly increased, calling for personal protective equipment such as hard hats and safety glasses.

Damage to eyesight, a significant head injury or an acquired brain injury can also have devastating long-term impacts. The proper use of protective eyewear can help to avert a disaster. In this regard, the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) has two standards – Z94.1 Industrial Protective Headwear and Z94.3 Eye and Face Protector – aimed at helping to protect the eyes, faces and heads of workers on the job.

Each year the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada (AWCBC) publishes the National Work Injury, Disease and Fatality Statistics, documenting the nature of loss-time and fatal incidents in the Canadian workplace. CSA Group uses these numbers to help determine where it needs to place a greater focus on improving the lives of Canada’s workforce.

Advertisement

Every year, more than one million North Americans sustain some kind of brain injury, leading to about 110,000 deaths, according to Dr. Rolf Gainer, chief executive officer of the Neurologic Rehabilitation Institute at Brookhaven Hospital in Tulsa, OK, and the Neurologic Rehabilitation Institute of Ontario in Toronto. The leading causes are falls, motor vehicle crashes, bicycle crashes and sports-related injuries. Work-related incidents account for about 15% of all brain injuries.

According to the Brain Injury Association of Canada, it is estimated that the direct and indirect costs associated with traumatic brain injury are $14.7 billion annually in Canada. Brain injury can vary from mild (concussion) to severe (deep coma). Depending on the severity of the injury, some victims may recover after a period of rest, while others will require a lifetime of support. 

Since 2003, CSA Group has tracked various benchmarks though its Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). In 1994, more than 25,000 eye, head and face injuries were recorded in Canada. By 2007, that number had dropped to about 18,000, according to the AWCBC’s 2008 report. The introduction and revisions of several CSA standards during that time period  led to this decrease. 

Here are some useful tips for avoiding eye, face and head injuries:

• Use the right combination of certified personal protective equipment

• Beware of flying objects, such as bits of metal, glass, stone or wood

• Always employ safe tool-handling practices

• Beware of chemical splashes, sparks and slag from welding and cutting

• Beware of pipes and wires sticking out of walls and objects hanging from ceilings

• Always practice safe work procedures

• Report unsafe conditions as quickly as possible to your supervisor or employer. 

Keeping your feet and toes safer

Foot and toe injuries – those that are crushed, amputated or punctured – represent a significant portion of lost-time injuries in the workplace.

In 1970, CSA introduced a standard for protective footwear (Z195) in 1970. Since 2002, when the sixth edition of this standard was published, the number of foot and toe injuries on worksites across Canada has declined by thousands each year.

Work-related foot injuries come in two basic categories: foot injuries from punctures, crushing, sprains and lacerations; and foot injuries resulting from slips, trips and falls. These account for 10% and 15% of all reported disabling injuries respectively. Slips and falls do not always result in a foot injury, but lack of attention to foot safety plays an important role in their occurrence. 

CSA Group’s KPIs show that in 1993, nearly 16,000 foot injuries were recorded in Canada. By 2007, that number had dropped to less than 12,000, according to the AWCBC’s report, National Work Injury, Disease and Fatality Statistics (2007). The introduction and revisions of several CSA standards during that time period helped to speed this decrease.

There is no workplace where a worker is immune to foot injury. However, the hazards differ according to the workplace and the types of tasks the worker does. The first step in developing a strategy to reduce foot problems is to identify the relevant hazards at the workplace. Such hazards should be assessed in each workplace, no matter how safe or how dangerous it may seem. 

Foot injury prevention

Job and workplace designs also have the potential to increase foot safety in workplaces that are specifically hazardous. Separating mobile equipment from pedestrian traffic and installing safety mirrors and warning signs can decrease the number of accidents that might result in cut or crushed feet or toes. 

Proper guarding of machines such as saws can avoid cuts or severed feet or toes. Effective housekeeping reduces the number of accidents at workplaces. For example, loose nails and other sharp objects, and littered walkways, are hazards for foot injury.

Tips for safety shoes

A safety shoe’s steel toecap should cover the whole length of the toes from tips to beyond the natural bend of the foot. A soft pad covering the edge of the toecap increases comfort. If the toecap cuts into the foot, either the size or style of the footwear is incorrect.

Soles come in a variety of thicknesses and materials. They need to be chosen according to the hazards and type(s) of flooring in the workplace. Uppers of protective footwear come in a variety of materials. Selection should take into account the hazards, and individual characteristics of the worker’s foot. A steel-midsole that protects the foot against penetration by sharp objects should be flexible enough to allow the foot to bend. 

Ensure that your boots are CSA-approved and certified to the type of activity you will need them for.

For more information, visit the CSA website at www.csagroup.org.



Print this page




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*