August is a good time to take pause and check your inventory of PPE before going into harvest.
No matter what you do, you have a reason to work safely and watch out for the safety of others. Purchase quality products that meet safety standards and are appropriate for work you will be doing. Employees are more likely to wear PPE products that fit well and are comfortable.
Most eye injuries are a result of flying debris or particles, chemicals and sun exposure. Eye injuries can be prevented by wearing appropriate eye protection. There are several forms of eye protection depending on the work performed. I suggest have having several pairs in your inventory so they are available to anyone who needs them...including visitors. Purchase only protective eyewear that meets American National Standard Institute (ANSI) performance standards. ANSNI Z87.1 should be printed on the box or on the glasses. Here is link to several suppliers that serve the agricultural industry; Obtaining Necessary PPE for Agricultural Operations During COVID-19.
I used to think my prescription eye glasses were enough to protect my eyes. That’s old thinking! It’s a misconception that prescription eye-wear can provide enough protection. There are several over-the-glasses (OTG) available now that are comfortable to wear, look good and in a variety of styles to choose from. OTG safety glasses provide more eye protection and protect expensive prescription glasses. Here’s a great eye protection video to show employees – Tony Crow .
Your hands are one of your greatest assets! They are part of the body that is most vital and most often injured. Select gloves based on the hazards involved and have them in stock for employees.
Consider having different sizes available to ensure gloves fit properly. Proper fitting gloves will tend to be used more. Leather gloves are still multipurpose and ideal for minimizing the risk of cuts and abrasions around the farm operation. Rubber, plastic or synthetic gloves can be used when cleaning or working with oils, solvents and other chemicals. Neoprene gloves can protect against hydraulic oils, gasoline, alcohols and organic acids.
Hearing is one of our treasured senses that we depend on every day to do our jobs better. Hearing is a difference maker by detecting something early before it can go wrong. Problem is we don’t treat our hearing as a life-long preservation. Keep a supply of ear plugs and earmuffs that are easily accessible. Look for and only purchase hearing protection that meet ANSI standards.
There are a variety of styles and price points to choose from. Again, comfort is key to wearing hearing protection, find quality products that employees will wear and keep enough in stock to get through the harvest season and beyond. Stress to employees that they need to take ownership of their hearing and it’s a life-long commitment to hearing preservation. They need to take an active role in assessing the hazard and wearing the appropriate hearing protection.
Anyone can download a sound level meter phone app for free and remove all doubt. Go to the App Store and type in NIOSH Sound Level Meter (wear hearing protection over 85 decibels). The higher the NRR (noise reduction rating) on hearing protection, the more protection you will have from the noise. Muffs and earplugs both reduce noise 15-30 dB depending on how they are made and how well they fit.
The key to respiratory protection is;
- having the right kind of respirator for the job,
- knowing when to use it,
- it’s available when you need it, and you
- know how to put it on and take it off.
COVID-19 can be a benefit and a curse. Benefit because it’s helped wearing filtering masks commonplace. A curse possibly, because just wearing a covering mask may not provide the right protection for the job. Check your inventory for N-95 masks. These are ideal for many uses around the farm operation. Only use respirators that:
- have two straps
- fit your face tightly, without gaps around the nose, cheeks and chin
- are appropriate for the task
- are approved by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
Dusts and molds at harvest time are simply unavoidable and can make some people feel awful. Having employees and family members wear the N95 masks or appropriate respirators will help keep them feeling better and more productive. Here is an article called Respiratory Protection & PPE for Agricultural Workers During COVID-19. It is packed with more in-depth information including being aware of "Fake" N-95 respirators.
Check your PPE inventory before going into harvest this month. Do you have the right PPE for your employees?
Use the Good Day’s Work training videos to help educate employees on how to protect themselves. Many activities around the operation do not have mandatory PPE requirements. In these cases, employees themselves need to determine when to use PPE. When they are educated on the use of PPE, they are armed with the tools to make good decisions consistently.
If you fail to educate your employees, they may pay a health price long term. Employees tend to follow and emulate their supervisors and leadership. Setting the right example for wearing PPE is CONTAGIOUS!
Ask your employees…… Are You Operating Safe? Help them get into the habit of assessing the hazards for PPE when approaching any job.
As always, safety is about more than being OSHA compliant. It’s about keeping your most valuable asset (your team) safe and healthy. At Good Day's Work, we partner with you to create a true safety culture. Let’s make sure everyone gets home safe after a good day's work.