Hazards From Equipment
Written by Steve Hudgik
Controlling Hazards From Equipment - Selecting Appropriate PPE
Employers and employees should never rely exclusively on personal protective equipment (PPE) for protection from hazards. PPE is the last level of protection. It is used when engineering controls, guards, and safe work practices and procedures have not provided complete protection.
Hazards From Equipment - The Hazard Assessment
All equipment has hazards associated with its use. Identifying those hazards starts with an equipment hazard assessment.
When determining what type of PPE is required, employers need to determine what type of hazardous situations are likely to be encountered under all foreseeable work conditions, and then select PPE appropriate for those hazards.
A safety officer, or other qualified person, should have responsibility for assessing the equipment and job tasks and selecting the appropriate PPE. The following steps should be followed:
Conduct an inspection of the equipment, and the area in which it is located or operates, to identify sources of hazards. Look for hazards from equipment such as:
- Impact (including flying materials)
- Compression (including roll-over)
- Chemical hazards
- Biological and health hazards
- High temperatures / Low Temperatures
- Harmful dust
- Intense light
- Falling, slipping and tripping
Begin the inspection by reviewing existing injury/accident reports to identify problem areas. During your inspection put an extra emphasis on these areas, looking for problems that have caused injuries or accidents in the past.
During the inspection look for the sources of equipment hazards. Examine equipment to determine if the source of the hazard can be eliminated or guarded, and report your observations in your inspection notes.
The following are examples of what to look for during the inspection:
Sources of motion - for example, look for hazards from equipment where there is movement of tools, equipment components, or other types of movement. Also note movement of people that could result in a collision with stationary objects.
Sources of high or low temperatures - identify hot equipment or materials that could result in burns, eye injury, or ignition of protective equipment.
Types of chemical exposures - identify chemicals that are used and their hazards.
Sources of harmful dust - any dust that might be inhaled is a hazard. Identify sources of dust that can get into eyes, noses, mouths or that could settle in food or drinks.
Sources of intense light - these could include light from welding, brazing, cutting, heat treating, furnaces, and high intensity lights.
Sources of falling objects or the potential for dropping objects - look for overhead storage areas from which objects might fall. Also look for the movement of equipment or materials overhead, and whether people might be working overhead.
Sources of sharp objects - identify anything that might pierce or cut the hands.
Sources of rolling or pinching objects - identify objects that could move and crush the feet. Watch for carts or other wheeled devices that move through the area. Look for storage of round or cylindrical objects that might fall from or break free from their storage location and roll across the floor or ground.
Layout of equipment, the work area and the location of co-workers - identify other equipment or people in the area that might result in a safety hazard.
Electrical hazards - electricity can be an unseen hazard in equipment. Make a note of any potential electrical hazards.
Hazards From Equipment - Organize Your Inspection Data
Following the walk-through survey, the data and information that was collected needs to be organized and analyzed. The purpose is to identify sources of hazards, and then classify each hazard as to its type, the level of risk, and the seriousness of any potential injury. Where it is foreseeable that an employee could be exposed to several hazards simultaneously, the consequences of such hazard should be evaluated.
Next determine which hazards can be eliminated or guarded against using engineering controls, which hazards can be addressed using administrative controls, and which hazards can only be addresses using PPE.
Hazards From Equipment - PPE Selection
Once the hazard assessment and analysis is complete, and the hazards that can be addressed with engineering or administrative controls are taken care of, the next step is to select the appropriate PPE for the remaining hazards. The general procedure for selection of protective equipment is to:
- Become familiar with the types of protective equipment that is available and what it can do. For example, PPE is available that can provide splash protection, protection from crushing, or impact protection.
- Compare the hazards that have been identified with the available PPE. For example, evaluate impact velocities, masses, projectile shapes, radiation intensities and compare those with the capabilities of the available PPE.
- Select the PPE that provides protection at a greater level than the minimum required to protect employees from the hazards. Don't select PPE that provides extra protection at the expense of making work more difficult or uncomfortable.
- Fit the user with the selected PPE. Provide training and instruction on the care and use of the PPE. It is very important that users be made aware of all warning labels and limitations of their PPE.
Hazards From Equipment - Using Labels and Signs
Use labels and signs, posted on and near equipment, to inform workers about hazards and the required protection. Labels and signs can also be used to provide operating procedures, shut-down procedures, first aid information, pedestrian and vehicle traffic control instructions, and visually communicate other important information.
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