Compliance is top on our minds. So SCGA asked a safety consultant what are the top five items every operator can get at their local store.
These are amongst the top 10 areas of concern from a workplace safety point of view. As a whole, our industry is very good at picking and choosing the nutrient rich soil or liquid fertilizer or even lighting to achieve certain desired results. Well picking the right tools and equipment for the job is just as important.
GFCIs: Walk onto any farm and you will inevitably find a maze of water lines / hoses as well as electrical exterior grade extension cords all running in every direction and intertwining creating serious electrical hazards! Apart from making sure there are no nicks, cuts or other visible damage to these cords. We need to keep them picked up and put away when not in use eliminating tripping hazards as well.
More specifically, GFCI’s were designed so that when properly installed and grounded, it protects the user of the electrical tool during its use. If the GFCI senses an over draw of current, it flips off disconnecting from the energy source within less than a 40th of a second. This is why it is so important to use and protect your heavy duty exterior grade extension cords. Remember that you want to pay special attention to the ground prong.
Additionally, your organization should be following and maintaining an electrical assuredness program to track inspection of these cords and correct hazards as they are found or created.
Fiberglass Ladders: There are many types of ladders out there but the 2 most commonly used are the “A frame” step ladders and the extension “lean-too” ladders. Although you can find wood and aluminum ladders, we recommend you not buy or use them. Biggest reason is because of their ability to conduct electricity if they were to become part of a circuit. Even wood ladders can be electrically conductive!
It is also worth noting that fiberglass ladders are lighter than their counterparts and more able to withstand rough use. On a note of caution though, do try to protect them from harsh solvents, chemicals and sunlight. These things can greatly reduce the life of the ladder. They can deter the fiberglass resins to the point that the ladder becomes “dried out” and brittle.
Be sure to inspect your ladders before every use and if they are found defective in anyway, DO NOT USE IT! Tag it as such and let the supervisor or owner know that it needs to be removed from the worksite (preferably destroyed).
Proper Eye + Face Protection: I don’t think I need to convince you of just how important your eyes are. You know how easily they can be hurt and the impact of not being able to use them. Even so, we need to be vigilant in how it is used and its effectiveness at controlling or reducing the hazard exposure.
Safety Glasses protect the eyes from flying debris which may impact the eye.
Face Shields protect the face from splash hazards or wood chips (chainsaw use).
Goggles, depending on the style and model, can protect the user from mists, dusts, fibers, and splashes.
Gloves: Our hands are almost as important as our eyes. We handle everything with our eyes first and then with our hands second. Knowing what kind of glove to use is very important. Thing is, it’s not always cut and dry what kind of hand protection you need.
For example, you’re using a pick and shovel. A leather glove seems like a pretty obvious answer right? What about chemicals that are being used on your site? Is nitrile the recommended glove to use or is it vinyl or latex? Are they disposable or are they reusable? If they are disposable, what is the protocol for proper disposal of contaminated tools and equipment?
Fire Extinguishers: Chances are you have flammable materials on site and a built in fire suppression system is probably not in the budget. Be particularly aware of the following requirements.
- The employer shall provide portable fire extinguishers and shall mount, locate and identify them so that they are readily accessible to employees.
- Only approved portable fire extinguishers shall be used.
- No carbon tetrachloride or chlorobromomethane extinguishing agents.
- They must be kept fully charged, inspected monthly & serviced annually and kept in their designated places at all times, except during use.
- Where the employer has provided portable fire extinguishers for employee use in the workplace, the employer shall also provide an educational program to familiarize employees with the general principals of fire extinguisher use and the hazards involved with incipient stage firefighting.
- The employer shall provide the required education upon initial employment and at least annually thereafter.
- The employer shall provide employees who have been designated to use firefighting equipment as part of an emergency action plan with training in the use of the appropriate equipment.
List compiled by Carlos ‘Big Dog’ Campos.