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The misconception that coronavirus particles are too small to be filtered by the N95 respirator is corrected in the new set of Frequently Asked Questions.

OSHA published a set of Frequently Asked Questions on October 19 to clarify how N95 respirators protect wearers from coronavirus exposure.

The FAQ combats the incorrect claim that N95 respirators don’t capture particles as small as the virus that causes COVID-19.

The information in the FAQ points out that N95 respirators remove at least 95% of very small particles from the air, and that the virus is part of larger particles made up of materials like water and mucus. The larger particles in question are easily trapped and filtered out by the N95 respirators because of their size.


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The Pistoria Alliance Chemical Safety Library platform makes safety hazard information free and available to the public in an effort to reduce incidents and improve worker safety.

A new open access library will make vital reaction safety hazard information available in the hopes of improving the safety of workers in labs and reducing repeat incidents.

CAS, a nonprofit division of the American Chemical Society that specializes in scientific information solutions, and the Pistoia Alliance, a global nonprofit that works to lower barriers to innovation in life sciences research and development, have joined forces to launch the Pistoia Alliance Chemical Safety Library platform.

The library will facilitate data sharing of hazardous and unanticipated chemical reaction information for the global research community. Researchers can access chemical safety incident information and submit new hazardous reaction data. R&D organizations can also integrate the full library content into their knowledge centers and internal laboratory safety workflows. Reaction incident information is reviewed by an advisory panel with experts from the American Chemical Society, CAS, Pistoia Alliance management and member companies and outside experts.

“We have a duty to ensure the health and safety of researchers dedicating their lives to delivering breakthrough innovations,” said Carmen Nitsche, general manager of the Cambridge Crystallography Data Centre and chair of the Chemical Safety Library Advisory Panel in a statement. “The Chemical Safety Library fulfills an important need and adds a key component to our safety toolbox.”

The Pistoia Alliance launched a prototype of this community crowd-sourced database in 2017, which currently has more than 1,000 registered users from industry, academia and government institutions.


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Whilst I am eager to explore a host of subject matter for the purpose of compiling an informative yet interesting article, as well as learning something myself along the way, the topic Protective Clothing is rather overwhelming when one considers where to start…

A broad spectrum topic that conjures many different thoughts and views, my personal opinion is to tackle this starting with a couple of stories from the beginning… the origin, how did protective clothing, now known more commonly as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) come to hold its own and become one of the most lucrative supply chains in industry as we know it today? Following this, and a few tales through history, I will visit a few later day discoveries in terms of PPE, as well as a couple of experiences on my home turf.

Stories originate from all over the world that shed a little light on how it has become such a significant role player across all industries in terms of worker health and safety.

Past and prejudice

The ‘rush’ for blue jeans

Transport yourself back to the 1850s, the American Goldrush. Throngs of hopeful prospectors flocking to California to claim their slice of the fortune. Levi Strauss was no different in that he saw a potential fortune looming and joined his brother selling dry goods and materials from a wholesale store in San Francisco.

By the early 1870s, it is perhaps fair to assume that men in general who had taken up the occupation of full-time prospecting were tired of their clothing not holding up against the harsh pursuit of gold seeking. (An assumption of my own is that this was aggravated by the fact many of the men were not accompanied by their wives or were young and single and probably missed the comforts of home in the form of female assistance in the stitching and donning category!!)

One particularly frustrated gentleman approached a Nevada based Tailor, a Mr Jacob Davis and requested a harder working, more sturdy pair of work pants. Mr Davis was well acquainted with hard working items as his business churned out many wagon covers and horse blankets to meet with the demand of the times. He approached Mr Strauss (from whom he had previously procured material and cloth) and discussed the matter which resulted in a partnership and the birth in 1873 of the “Waist Overalls” later known as blue jeans. Patented shortly after as their jeans had incorporated metal rivets into the weaker parts of the garment such as pockets and fly seams to ensure they met the grade; the rest is history.

“following a request for a harder working, more sturdy pair of trousers, came the birth in 1873 of the “Waist Overalls” later known as blue jeans”


Another interesting anecdote is that of the humble Spat.

Originally known as Spatterdashes, this item of protective clothing can be traced back to the military in 18th century England. Traditionally, they were worn to protect the boots and socks of officers against the hazards of the terrain (mud and rain).

Interestingly, spats later grew into quite the fashion accessory for privileged society. Early in the 20th century, spats became widely worn by men and women in Europe and America.

Somewhat the unsung hero of PPE, spats are mostly commonly used in foundries or the metal industry to protect feet or ankles from hazards related to metal or steel production and fabrication.

Basically, spats in industry are flexible leather covering that either tie, press-stud or buckle around the safety boot. They add an additional layer of protection to the wearer against hot metal sparks or debris that may emanate as a result of a process i.e. welding. Obviously, the wearer is the prominent concern, but spats do prolong the life of more expensive PPE such as the safety boot.

There are many variations of spats, dependant on requirements and of course, cost. Although spats may appear a somewhat antiquated form of protection, they persist to prove their worth in guarding against random sparks and hot debris that may otherwise travel to even beneath a booted foot and result in serious burns.

Burns to the feet are problematic as the healing process is hindered by layers of socks and shoes. Unlike burns to the arm or other less closeted parts of the anatomy, burns to the feet take longer to heal as they are not generally exposed to fresh air for long periods at a time. In addition, feet are our body’s work horses as many of us are on them for extended hours – this obviously must cease if one is attempting to heal a wound on a foot.

All the more reason to wear spats, in that prevention is better than the cure.


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For industrial facilities to meet the needs of a challenging environment and maintain a sound respiratory protection program, it’s critical that the SCBA used deliver performance – whether needed for standby emergencies or everyday work. One of the most important considerations for respiratory protection is compatibility. SCBA that allow for the use of the same cylinder across multiple platforms throughout your fleet, that can be integrated with other NFPA products you might have, and a facepiece that allows for APR use with a variety of cartridge options is key to ensuring your respiratory protection program is comprehensive.

Facepiece Compatibility

Key factors to consider for SCBA facepieces include:

● Is it lightweight and compact?
● Does it provide low breathing resistance on air and off?
● Is there an adapter available that can convert the facepiece for use in air purifying applications?
● Can your fit test costs be reduced by putting multiple respiratory platforms on a single facepiece?

With APR adapter compatibility, the SCBA supports diverse respiratory needs within a facility.

Cylinder Compatibility

Key factors to consider for SCBA cylinder compatibility include:

● Does the SCBA offer compatibility for use of the same cylinder across multiple SCBA platforms within an existing fleet?
● Can you easily integrate it with other NFPA or Industrial SCBA products you might have?

With remote connect compatibility – known as G1 iRC (Industrial Remote Cylinder Connection) on the MSA G1 Industrial SCBA – the same cylinder can be used across multiple platforms of MSA SCBA, including G1 NFPA SCBA and AirHawk® II SCBA.


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Is six feet really the limit for person-to-person COVID-19 transmission?

Unfortunately for businesses, the answer to that question seems to depend on who you ask.

Recently, it may also have depended on when you ask.

On Sept. 18, the CDC posted on its website that the coronavirus is transmitted mainly through the air.

This would mean the virus can travel more than six feet, particularly indoors.

Four days later, the CDC removed the language from its website, saying the post was premature and they were still reviewing the issue.

(Update: On Oct. 5, the CDC updated its webpage on how the coronavirus is spread. “There is evidence that under certain conditions, people with COVID-19 seem to have infected others who were more than six feet away,” the updated Web page states. “These transmissions occurred within enclosed spaces that had inadequate ventilation. Sometimes the infected person was breathing heavily, for example while singing or exercising.”)

Superspreader buildings?

Early in the pandemic, “superspreader” incidents were identified, with the implication that certain people infected with the coronavirus were more likely to infect a larger number of people.

Now, a growing number of scientists are looking at these incidents differently: It’s not a person, it’s a building’s poor indoor air circulation that’s the cause of COVID-19 superspreading.

While the CDC makes up its mind on the issue, this summer, more than 200 scientists urged the World Health Organization to seriously consider that the coronavirus can be airborne spread by tinier aerosol droplets for distances greater than the length of an average room, not just larger droplets that travel a maximum of six feet.

HVAC experts weigh in

ASHRAE, the organization that sets voluntary standards for heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), says, for the coronavirus, “airborne transmission in some circumstances seems probable.”

On April 14, 2020, ASHRAE adopted a new Position Document on Infectious Aerosols. It states “that facilities of all types should follow, as a minimum, the latest published standards and guidelines and good engineering practice.”

ASHRAE’s coronavirus technical resource page spells out various strategies.

It all comes back to the mask

In its coronavirus guideline materials, ASHRAE says no HVAC system can completely eliminate the aerosol transmission of viruses.

On top of that, making certain changes to a building’s HVAC system doesn’t exactly come under the category of “things a safety manager can do today to reduce the hazard of coronavirus spread.”

So, once again, it comes down to the mask.

As a safety pro, you know that PPE is the hazard control of last resort.

However, with the coronavirus still being so new, and because we still don’t know many things about it, this is a situation in which PPE – cloth masks – is a must.

It’s a simple mantra: Wear the mask.

A quote in a New York Times article on the CDC’s apparent flip-flop (at least for now) on the issue, sums it up quite well:

“There is no incontrovertible proof that SARS-CoV-2 travels or is transmitted significantly by aerosols, but there is absolutely no evidence that it’s not,” said Dr. Trish Greenhalgh, a primary care doctor at the University of Oxford in Britain.

“So at the moment we have to make a decision in the face of uncertainty, and my goodness, it’s going to be a disastrous decision if we get it wrong,” she said. “So why not just mask up for a few weeks, just in case?”


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Dust particles become airborne during indoor metalworking processes like welding and plasma cutting. They also become airborne during the manufacturing and processing of food, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and other dry products. Some of these particles are toxic and/or combustible, so it is important to shield workers, products and expensive equipment from them. Here are the most frequently asked questions about controlling dangerous dusts in order to maintain a safe work environment.

Q. What makes a dust dangerous?

When products are manufactured indoors, small particles often become airborne and have the potential to do serious harm to people, products, equipment and/or facilities. Dusts that are combustible can cause fires and explosions. Other dusts can contain ingredients that are toxic when swallowed or inhaled. Others can cross-contaminate other products that are manufactured in the same facility. When combustible dusts are collected from the air into a dust collection system, the system itself can be a source of combustible dust explosions if not properly protected. Besides being required to do so by OSHA, companies are morally obligated to protect workers from these hazards.

Q. Which industries most often deal with dangerous dusts?

Many industries have combustible dust, but the following are at most risk: metalworking facilities, welding shops, woodworking shops, chemical processors, food manufacturers, and pharmaceutical companies that make solid dose products (tablets).

Q. Which agencies regulate dangerous dusts?

OSHA is ultimately responsible for protecting employees from dangerous dusts. However, the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) plays a major role in recommending standards and guidelines for managing combustible dusts. If manufacturers don’t follow these guidelines, they can be fined by OSHA, face legal scrutiny and risk a damaged reputation.

Q. What are common dust hazards in the food processing industry?

The biggest threats are occupational exposure and combustible dust explosions. Dust can cause dermatitis and allergic reactions. More seriously, dust particles can become embedded in the lungs and can cause respiratory problems like asthma and lung cancer. In addition, many solid food ingredients are combustible, including sugar, starch, spices, proteins and flour. Lastly, food particles can damage other food products. For example, particles that contain gluten or peanuts could cross-contaminate products that are supposed to be gluten free, causing severe allergic reactions for customers who trust those product labels.

OSHA requires companies to control dust emissions in indoor workplaces and to comply with legal limits set for each ingredient and material. If no legal limits are applicable, the company must define in writing, implement and measure its own environmental safety plan. The FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act requires food processing facilities to implement measures to prevent or minimize contamination hazards.

Q. What are common dust hazards in the chemical processing industry?

The biggest threats are occupational exposure to toxic dusts and combustible dust explosions. Processes like blending, coating, conveying, crushing, weighing, milling, mixing and pelletizing all generate dust that will become airborne. If not captured and contained, these dusts expose workers to hazards and can cause combustible dust incidents. OSHA requires chemical companies to comply with permissible exposure limits (PEL) for workers. The PEL is the maximum air concentration to which a worker can be safely exposed for an eight-hour shift without potentially suffering adverse health affects. For example, the PEL of zinc oxide is 15 micrograms per cubic meter of air.

Q. What are common dust hazards in the pharmaceutical manufacturing?

As above, occupational exposure is a common hazard because active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) can be toxic and allergenic. It is critical to understand the toxicological properties of this dust to determine the PEL of each API. In addition, APIs can travel through the air and cross-contaminate other pharmaceutical products. Lastly, many pharmaceutical ingredients are combustible and can cause explosions if not handled correctly.

Q. What are common dust hazards in metalworking facilities?

Metalworking facilities use processes like welding, thermal cutting, sanding and polishing are at the most risk because these processes send tiny metal particles into the air that can be toxic. This is especially important if you work with iron oxide, lead oxide, manganese, nickel, and chromium. Metalworking facilities must follow OSHA permissible exposure limit (PEL) for these and other metal dusts. In addition, many metal dusts are highly combustible and can increase the chances of an explosion in your dust collector. Dust collection systems must be sized correctly and have the proper filters and protection devices to mitigate the risk of an explosion. Burnable dusts pose a higher risk for a combustible dust explosion in a dust collector. Even a small amount of dust can have severe consequences.

Q. What equipment is used to capture hazardous dusts?

Industrial dust collectors are used to capture and contain dust and other harmful particles from the air in plants, factories and other processing facilities. Much of this airborne dust is too small to be seen with the naked eye. Collectors capture dust by continually cycling the dust-laden airstream through a series of filter cartridges. The dust remains on the cartridges, and the clean air is returned to the work environment. Dust collectors are generally large pieces of equipment that can be placed inside or outside the manufacturing facility.

Q. How does an explosion occur in a dust collector?

A dust collector is a closed vessel, and any closed vessel that is full of dry particles is ripe for an explosion. An explosion usually begins when a suspended cloud of combustible dust is present in high concentration inside the collector. As the fan draws in large volumes of air, an outside spark or ember can be sucked into the collector and collide with the dust cloud under pressure, triggering an explosion. The source of the spark may be a production process, a cigarette butt thrown into a dust capture hood or a static electricity discharge from improperly grounded nearby equipment.

Q. How do you protect a dust collector from a combustible dust explosion?

First of all, it is important to have all collectors sized properly for the facility they will be handling. Second, it is important to understand that combustible dust explosions can’t always be prevented from occurring in the dust collector. However, they can put systems in place that ensure that the explosion doesn’t cause harm. These systems are called explosion protection systems, and there are a variety of options. The most common is explosion venting because it is the most cost-effective, but some facilities may also be required to have an explosion isolation valves or integrated safety monitoring filters. All of these mitigate incidents and prevent the flame front and pressure to travel to process areas. The NFPA provides guidelines to design, locate, install and maintain these explosion protection devices to minimize harm to personnel as well as structural and mechanical damage.

Q. What does explosion venting do?

A well-designed explosion vent functions as a weak element in the dust collector’s pressure envelope. It relieves internal combustion pressure (back pressure) to keep the collector from blowing up into pieces. The vent’s function is illustrated in the series of photos below that show a staged deflagration in a cartridge dust collector equipped with an explosion vent.

Typically, the collector is located outside so that it vents away from buildings and populated area to a safe location. If it is properly equipped and located indoors, standards mandate that you designate a safe area. While explosion venting will usually save the dust collector from being a total loss, the collector can sustain major internal damage. Nonetheless, if personnel remain safe and facility structural damage is minimized, the explosion venting equipment has done its job.

Q. Which facilities are required to have their dust tested?

NFPA standards require a dust hazard analysis (DHA) for any facilities that generate, handle or store potentially explosive dust. The burden of proof is on manufacturers to demonstrate that their dust is not combustible, so it is important for them to have their process dust tested by a valid third party testing lab and keep records on file proving that it is not combustible.

If tests show that the facility has combustible dust, it is required by NFPA 652 to complete a dust hazard analysis (DHA) of their dust collection systems. The also need to keep this report on file to show when requested by the local fire marshal or other authority having jurisdiction. In addition, explosion venting equipment must be inspected at least annually based on the documented operating experience.

Q. How are vents and discharge ducts sized to make sure they are right for a dust collector?

Chapters 7 through 9 of NFPA 68 provide the calculations to use for properly sizing explosion vents, vent discharge ducts (also called vent ducts) and other components. A reputable dust collector supplier will follow the vent sizing equations in Chapter 8 (Venting of Deflagrations of Dusts and Hybrid Mixtures). They can also supply a calculations sheet that becomes part of the documentation you keep on file to demonstrate your plant’s compliance.

Q. Should all dust collectors be installed outdoors?

Obviously, placing dust collectors outdoors is the safest option if they vent away from buildings and populated areas. However, it isn’t always feasible to place them outside. Dust collectors placed indoors must have the appropriate explosion protection system if they will handle any combustible dusts.

Q. Is it safe to recirculate the air from your dust collector back into the work environment?

Recirculating heated or cooled air back into the workspace can provide significant energy savings and eliminate the cost to replace that conditioned air. Containing the air indoors also avoids the time-consuming permitting involved when contaminated air is exhausted outside. This can be safely done even if the facility handles explosive dust by outfitting the dust collector with a safety monitoring filter. This helps isolate the downstream equipment from the progression of a flame front during an explosion.


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On September 14, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) issued a request for information and comment on the deployment to and use of elastomeric half-mask respirators (EHMRs) by emergency medical services (EMS) organizations and in healthcare settings during the ongoing coronavirus diseases 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic (85 FR 56618).

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by infection of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

EHMRs would be purchased by and distributed from the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) to alleviate shortages of N95 filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs). NIOSH asked for suggestions for a national strategy to purchase, deploy, and use EHMRs and statements of interest from EMS organizations and healthcare facilities that would like to participate in NIOSH demonstration projects.

Comments are due to the institute by October 14. NIOSH is not currently accepting any applications for distribution of EHMRs from the SNS.

EHMRs are nonpowered air-purifying respirators that have a tight-fitting facepiece that covers the nose and mouth. The respirators use replaceable filters or cartridges and can be cleaned, disinfected, stored, and reused. They provide at least the same level of protection as single-use N95 FFRs.

EHMRs are tested and approved by NIOSH for respiratory protection in U.S. workplaces. While they are used at times in healthcare settings, EHMRs are not considered medical devices subject to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine had issued a consensus report on the feasibility of using EHMRs in healthcare settings during routine and surge situations.

On March 27, the FDA issued an emergency use authorization allowing the use of alternative products like EHMRs as medical devices.

NIOSH acknowledged that hospitals found these devices to be valuable in keeping workers safe in the early weeks and months of the pandemic, especially during shortages of N95 FFRs. Medical professionals found the EHMRs comfortable to wear. Hospitals benefited from their low cost, ease of use, and ability to be cleaned and decontaminated.

NIOSH believes the widespread use of EHMRs will ease the demand for single-use N95 FFRs in healthcare settings that experience high numbers of COVID-19 patients. The SNS plans to purchase EHMRs for deployment to and use by healthcare organizations in order to diversify the respiratory protection options available to healthcare workers and emergency responders during the COVID-19 crisis.

That demonstration project might include participation from organizations like hospitals and hospital systems; hospital intensive care units (ICUs); hospital general wards; hospital emergency departments; outpatient care settings; nursing homes; dental providers; and first responders like EMS, police officers, and firefighters.

The institute doesn’t plan to limit demonstration project participation to organizations with prior experience with EHMRs, but NIOSH did ask respondents to describe how they might handle fit testing, training, education, a filter change-out schedule, cleaning/disinfection, storage considerations, appropriate clinical care settings for EHMR use, and potential criteria to be used to determine how the EHMR devices would be distributed in a demonstration project.


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All fall protection can be broken down into two main categories; active and passive. Of the two, passive controls are far safer, as it doesn’t require any interaction from the worker to be safe. In construction, however, it is rare to see opportunities where passive controls will be cost-effective or possible with building conditions.

With the need to use active fall protection, understanding the different types and applicable codes can create a safer work environment. It can also alleviate possible lawsuits or liability in the case of an accident.

In the construction industry, it's the employer's duty to prevent falls. The best way to do this is by maintaining a safe work environment through proper fall protection education, ensuring the use of appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE), and thorough training. It’s important to teach all workers that just because a task will only take a couple of minutes doesn’t mean you don’t need to wear PPE.

Categories of Fall Protection

All active fall protection for the construction industry falls into four basic categories: fall arrest, positioning, suspension, and retrieval. OSHA provides standards for each category of fall protection. Here are some basic explanations and links to each set of standards.

Functional Systems of Fall Protection

1. Fall Arrest OSHA 1926.502(d) - Fall arrest systems are required whenever a worker is exposed to a fall hazard. In the construction industry, OSHA defines a fall hazard as a drop of 6 feet or more from a working/walking surface to a lower level or grade. Some exceptions exist, including (but not limited to) ladders, scaffolding, and steel work. Common fall arrest equipment includes an anchor point, body harness, and connector (such as a lanyard or self-retracting lifeline.

a. A full-body safety harness is your first line of defense. However, the kind of harness you need will depend on the type of work being done. It must be capable of supporting a person with a combined tool and body weight of 310 lbs, and must be used in conjunction with an anchorage device and deceleration device that limits the impact forces of a fall to 1,800 lbs. or less. For additional help selecting the right harness, check out our buyers' guide.

b. Lanyards are the one device that connects your harness to the anchor safely. These can range from a 50' SRL to a 2’ webbed lanyard. There are several different types of lanyards, all with specific purposes. Check out our additional resources on fall protection lanyards if you have any questions.

c. Anchor points are the final piece of the equation. Anchor points must be able to withstand 5000 lbs or twice the anticipated load of a person free falling a distance of 6’. It is crucial that all anchor points are engineered and installed by what OSHA defines as a qualified person. The harness and lanyard can only catch you if that they are attached to doesn’t break.

2. Positioning OSHA 1926.502(e) - Positioning systems allow the worker to sit back in their harness while performing work with both hands. The most common application is anytime you need to do work from a ladder. This type of protection is not designed to be used to arrest a fall, and must be used in conjunction with a fall arrest system, such as body belts, harnesses, and components Retrieval OSHA 1926.502(d)(20) - Otherwise known as a rescue plan, retrieval is a crucial step in the development of a fall protection plan. This system covers the post-fall scenario of retrieving a worker who has fallen. OSHA does not give any instructions regarding how to accomplish this, but does say that there must be a plan in place.

3. Suspension OSHA 1926.452(o) - Suspension equipment systems are able to lower and support the worker providing for a hands-free work environment. This system is widely utilized by window washers and painters; a fall arrest system must be used alongside the suspension system.

4. If the fall risk is outside the range covered in the above categories there are other types of equipment that may be used to protect workers from falls. Technology is constantly allowing for better and safer methods to perform the same work. Let’s discuss the many options we have to help you work safely.


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On September 10, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) issued a fact sheet and poster outlining tactics to ensure the safety of firefighters responding to row house fires. The institute recently completed a firefighter fatality investigation of a career lieutenant killed while fighting a row house fire.Row houses are a common housing style in large cities, as well as in many small towns, according to NIOSH. The unique characteristics of row houses pose a challenge to fighting fires.

Row houses typically were built in the late 1800s to early 1900s and often are located on narrow streets. Houses often were built in a row running an entire block that may include 30 to 45 occupancies. Row houses may have brick exterior walls but have wood framing, floor joists, and roof rafters.

During a fire crew’s response to a row house fire, the second floor collapsed into the first floor, and a firefighter became pinned down by the second-floor joists and was unable to escape. Although rescue crews continuously worked for approximately an hour to extricate the lieutenant, he died of asphyxia, with superheated gas and smoke inhalation.

The fire happened on January 6, 2018, in an 1800s-era row house. Snow covered the narrow roadway and on-street parking. Firefighters encountered extreme cold, multiple inoperable fire hydrants, and excessive clutter in the building, as well as a frozen nozzle.

NIOSH investigators found that contributing factors were the extreme cold and six inoperable hydrants, deteriorating building conditions, excessive clutter and structural overloading, and both inherent building characteristics and unique row house variations.

NIOSH recommended that cities and towns consider either upgrading access to narrow roadways in 19th-century neighborhoods or restricting parking to ensure access for modern fire apparatus.

The institute’s recommendations for fire departments included:

● Consider increasing response capabilities during extreme weather.
● Consider defensive operations when a dependable, continuous water supply is lost or not available and the building’s primary building materials may have been subject to severe fire conditions.
● Ensure that firefighters are trained to understand the influence of building age, use, design, modifications, and construction on structural collapse, and consider defensive operations when hoarding/dilapidated conditions are evident or encountered.
● Perform a thorough risk assessment, including an evaluation of structural conditions, when switching from a defensive strategy back to an offensive strategy.
● Approximately 80 to 100 firefighters die in the line of duty each year, according to the institute. Line-of-duty death is defined as a fatality occurring while a firefighter is on duty or within 24 hours after being on duty or responding to an emergency event.

NIOSH’s Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program (FFFIPP) conducts independent investigations of firefighter line-of-duty deaths. The FFFIPP is similar to but separate from the institute’s Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program.

“NIOSH, through its Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program, has investigated many line-of-duty deaths associated with row house fires,” NIOSH Director John Howard, MD, said in a statement.

“It is our hope that the valuable information conveyed by these new materials prevents another tragedy by helping every firefighter who responds to a row house fire return home unharmed,” he added.


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When a worker is at risk of serious injury or death while working at heights, suitable self-retracting devices (SRDs) and the accompanying accessories are mandatory. These devices are designed to prevent a worker from contacting surfaces below that where work is being performed. Independent, global organizations are responsible for developing the standards and guidelines for the manufacturing design and testing of these devices. In the United States, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is the standards organization. In Canada, the Canadian Standard Association (CSA Group) develops these standards.

Both of these organizations are also responsible for developing and updating standards and guidelines for inspecting and certifying SRD equipment. On August 1, 2019, the CSA’s new standard—CSA Z259.2.2-17—went into effect, with significant updates and revisions incorporated.

This article is meant to cover the highlights of the revised standard. For complete details, secure a copy of the full standard to help ensure that your fall protection program meets the mandatory requirements.

What Changed in the Revised CSA Z259.2.2-17 Standard?

There were several types of modifications in the newly revised standard. Some were terminology changes. For example, “personal fall arrest systems” was changed to “fall-protection systems.” Others were definitions revisions for “lifeline” and “arrest distance.” You’ll want to refer to the standard itself for those and the seven new definitions, including peak force, performance factor, and fall arrest indicator.

A major change was the revamping of the classifications. Type 1, Type 2, and Type 3 are not used anymore. Instead, there are now four new classes of SRDs:

Class SRL—It is anchored at an elevation which limits the free fall to the activation distance of the device … and the extracted life line cannot bear against an edge or surface during fall arrest.
Class SRL-R—Shall be a Class SRL device that is provided with an integral means for assisted rescue.
Class SRL-LE—An SRL with Leading Edge capability. In addition to application for SRL devices, a Class SRL-LE shall be suitable for applications where one or more of the following conditions are met: It is anchored lower than the dorsal D-ring of the full-body harness; The extracted lifeline can bear against an edge or surface during fall arrest.
Class SRL-LE-R—An SRL with Leading Edge and integral rescue capability. Class SRL LE-R shall be both suitable for SRL-LE and SRL-LE-R conditions.

Another name change is that “Recertification” has been changed to “Revalidation.” It is more than just a name change, however. Revalidation requires that the SRDs be sent to the manufacturer or authorized rep for regular inspections and maintenance at specified intervals.

The new change to Revalidation also affects who determines the degree of use SRD involved. A “competent person,” as defined specifically in the new Standard, shall categorize each SRD utilized according to three pre-defined types of duty/use:

1. Infrequent to Light Use – such as rescue and confined space or factory maintenance
2. Moderate to Heavy – used in transportation, residential construction, utilities, and warehousing
3. Severe to Continuous Use – commercial construction, oil and gas operations, mining, and foundry work

Of course, the worker frequency of inspection for all usage types remains as always: before each use.

However, infrequent/light use SRDs must be inspected annually by the designated competent person, and revalidated by the manufacturer at least every 5 years, but not more than intervals required by the manufacturer.

Moderate/heavy use SRDs must be inspected by the designated competent person on a semi-annual to annual basis, and revalidated at least every 2 years, but not more than intervals required by the manufacturer

Severe/continuous use SRDs require quarterly to semi-annual inspection by the designated competent person. The manufacturer must revalidate the SRD at least annually, but not more than intervals required by the manufacturer.

What Parts of the Standard Did Not Change?

The general scope of the CSA standard for SRDs remains the same. This includes the equipment to be used for workers at risk of falls from height. It also continues to require SRDS for personal fall arrest systems incorporating the means necessary for assisted rescue following a fall arrest incident.

The need for reevaluation of safety standards is necessary to ensure continuing worker safety on the job.


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