Sunday, February 24, 2008

Horse Sense Safety

Personal Protective and Life Saving Equipment (PPE)

OSHA Standard - 1926.100

Hard Hat Sense

In my many years in the construction industry, particularly from the Safety side, I have witnessed so many safety shortcuts, even blatant refusal to use any resemblance of common or Horse Sense that they were to the point of being funny. They were funny in the sense that they more resembled an act akin to attempting fate with a dare to beat the safe way to perform a task.

Some of the things I’ve seen would add up to so many OSHA willful violations that the contractors would never be able to pay all the huge monetary penalties levied by OSHA. Of course there were many, many of these things that were experienced long prior to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) act. Prior to the existence of OSHA, there were no existing written standards for safe work practices unless the work was done under a US Army Corps of Engineers or other governmental or insurance company rules. The general “rule of thumb” would only rely on Horse Sense.

I have seen hard hats worn on construction sites that were only good for wearing in a meat packing facility and called “Bump Caps.” They would not withstand falling objects that are subject to exist on construction projects.

Some of the hard hats that would comply with American National Standards institute (ANSI) standards, which OSHA includes in their regulations, when they were made, but would never meet even the lowest of safe work practices of the day.

Some of these items would be: to drill several 3/8 to 1/2 inch diameter holes around the hat to allow fresh air to flow through. This totally ruined the integrity of the hat.

Another item would be to have hats made of aluminum being worn around electric lines or heating up the bills of hard caps, metal or plastic, and turn them up so the worker could have a “less obstructed view” when looking up. Again, the integrity of the hat was gone.

Other such things as seeing how many different contractors’ or vendors’ stickers the worker could find to stick on the hat with no regard to the compatibility of the composition of the hat and the glue on the stickers.

Another was to paint plastic hard hats with different types of paint that could cause the plastic to react with the paint making the plastic brittle and change the integrity of the hat. Some of these painted hats were beautifully painted with scenes of art. But beautification is not good if it ruins the hat.

Another item would include wearing a hard cap with the bill turned backward, again with the excuse of giving “more upward vision” and not protecting the face and eyes of the wearer.

Another problem would be that the worker loved his old hat so well that the suspension would be worn out not allowing it to provide protection in case of a falling object striking the hat, or altering the suspension causing loss of integrity.

Still, little attention is paid to the expiration date the manufacturers have provided to the wearer. There is a “shelf life” on all hard hats.

Use your hard hat for protection of your head and face. Do not alter the integrity of the protection provided for this item of Personal Protective Equipment.

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