Safety Gear Showcase
Safety Gear Showcase: Best practices for safety gear and personal protective equipment including a review of some of the latest products and safety equipment checklist.
Date Posted: 8/1/2018
Some employees think of it as a nuisance. And some companies hate paying for it. But safety gear, also known as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), should be a crucial part of your company’s safety program.
Beyond avoiding fines, PPE can help save lives and limbs, especially in a sawmill or pallet operation where workers regularly deal with saws, nail guns, forklifts and other workplace hazards. You may not give much consideration to your safety equipment, but you should do an annual audit to identify any hazards that are not being adequately protected. You may also want to chat with your supplier to see how they can improve safety and reduce worker strain. Your managers and employees can discuss the adequacy of existing PPE and how you can improve protection and performance by switching to alternative products.
Every production employee should be trained on and required to use the appropriate PPE. Even if they don’t like it, government officials will hold the employer responsible if accidents occur and PPE is not worn.
Joe DeMarco, vice president of business development and communication for LINC Systems, warned, “It is no longer an option or a nice to have, it is a must! Pallet companies of all sizes must adopt and incorporate the elements of safety. There is too much liability not to do this.”
Sam Lacey, national account manager for HUB Industrial, commented, “You can save a lot of money by equipping your team with effective PPE. It may seem to increase your overhead by spending more to get the better PPE, but if it fits better, lasts longer, and is more readily embraced by your team, you can’t help but save money in the long run in reduced injury claims, better employee morale, and elimination of compliance penalties.”
Many pallet companies know about the basics. But they may ignore some areas that are still important to keep workers safe. Lacey suggested, “We see a lot of companies that take safety very seriously and are very thorough in the way they equip their team. For the others, I would say foot protection is an area ripe for improvement—especially when it comes to protecting against stepping on nails. We have a cost-effective insole that fits inside existing work boots to prevent injuries from sharp objects coming up through the sole. We also have several choices of work boots with a composite plate built into the sole of the boots. Hand protection is another area that is rapidly evolving, and we can certainly assist in guiding a client towards some styles that will suit their team without overspending. Many pallet workers prefer the latex coated knit gloves to the time-honored leather work gloves because they offer equivalent abrasion resistance while affording much better tactility.”
Lacey added, “Looking towards more tangential forms of safety protection, we’ve seen a lot of benefits from tool balancers for guys that have repetitive tasks with nail guns and the like. It saves a ton of wear and tear not only on the staff, but on the equipment that tends to get chucked around a lot if not suspended from these devices which neutralize the tool’s weight.”
Air quality can also be ignored, in areas for dust collection or painting of pallets, for example. DeMarco stated, “Some companies need fans to ventilate areas or masks or gloves for employees involved with painting or spraying pallets. Dust collection is another area that many smaller companies avoid. But it is certainly on OSHA’s radar screen.”
Many safety suppliers offer a variety of products with different functions and price points. Gary Snyder of Saw Service explained, “We price our safety products very competitively and offer options, such as multiple types of safety glasses. But if you want disposable, you can get glasses for $1 per pair. Many pallet companies buy disposable safety items because those products come and go with workers.”
The following is a checklist of essential PPE for many companies in the forest products sector. Your individual requirements may vary, and you should develop your PPE approach by consulting with experts, such as your PPE supplier.
PPE/Safety Gear Checklist
• Safety Glasses
• Hearing Protection
(Ear plugs or muffs)
• Heavy Duty Gloves
• Work/Safety Boots
• Leggings/Shin Guards
• Hard Hats/Helmets
• Back Braces/Safety Harnesses
• Face Shields
• Push/Pull Bars
• Pallet Tables
• Tool Balancers
• First-aid Kits (In production buildings)
HUB’s Pallet Program Savings Guide includes 31 pages of safety-related items. Sam Lacey, national account manager for HUB Industrial explained, “Our safety program is unique because it offers pallet companies a huge variety of options in our Savings Guide, and every one of those choices are proven to be appropriate to the pallet industry. The big vendors may offer more variety, but not everything they offer works well for this industry.”
The following are a few key products that HUB would like to highlight to help pallet companies and sawmills improve their safety focus.
Puncture Resistant Shoe Inserts
This is a combination comfort insole and barrier to protect the wearer from being injured when stepping on a nail. They come in a variety of shoe sizes. These insoles are competitively priced at $21.24 per pair.
String Knit Latex Coated Palm Work Gloves
These abrasive resistant gloves offer equivalent protection to leather work gloves but are washable and more comfortable to wear. Our top-selling version is a basic string-knit that costs $1.57 per pair.
Hellberg® Active Listening Ear Muffs
HUB’s hearing protection runs the gamut from its value priced disposable plugs to these noise cancelling muffs that allow the wearer to hear instructions and be aware of surroundings while attenuating the noise that causes hearing damage. These ear muffs cost $113.34.
Beyond supply nails and fasteners, LINC Systems also offers safety supplies and nailer safety training. It has training templates, safety videos and can provide training and certification for customers. LINC Systems regularly conducts tool maintenance and repair on site. It has a program called ServiceLINC that logs and reports to the customer all the service performed and parts value. The benefit of this is that it shows the regular service of their tools. In addition, it offers a complete catalog of safety gear that can be downloaded from http://www.LINCSupply.com
The following are some specialty items that LINC Systems wanted to spotlight.
From helping employees get noticed to preventing worker strain, LINC can provide a wide variety of protective clothing including high visibility safety vests, reflective and temperature focused outer wear for cold environments, and back braces and supports.
Custom Built Workstations
LINC sells custom built workstations designed to improve ergonomics and reduce worker strain. These workstations create and maintain a more organized work environment. Also, these workstations can enhance tool efficiency and preservation.
Saw Service Supply
Saw Service Supply is a saw blade distributor and manufacturer specializing in the pallet industry. It has a 24-page catalog covering blades and consumable products including six pages devoted to safety supplies. Saw Service covers 90% of the safety needs out there with a simple to navigate and use catalog. It offers other products, such as eye stations, that are not in the catalog.
Gary Snyder of Saw Service explained, “We try to make our catalog precise, specific to industry needs and simple to use. This approach works great for a small business with one or two managers having to think about all the business issues, including safety.”
Saw Service has highlighted the following products from its safety catalog as considerations for pallet and lumber companies.
A new addition to Saw Service’s catalog, Kevlar sleeves can give some protection for employee arms, especially for those who wear short sleeve shirts. It comes with and without a thumb hole. These sleeves are priced at $2.90 each.
Safety aprons can act as shield against various dangerous things in a plant. Saw Service offers both cotton and leather aprons, which are more durable and can provide a greater degree of safety. Aprons come in waist length or full torso apron lengths. Aprons range from $8.90 each to $28 each depending on the size and materials.
Three Levels of Safety Glasses
Saw Service offers three major varieties of safety glasses. The primary difference is the durability and the price. If you want throw away glasses that can be lost or used only a handful of times, Saw Service offers its Intruder line for $1 per pair. They come in various colors and are scratch-resistant 100% polycarbonate lenses. Some colors, such as amber, work well in low light situations. Saw Service provides mid-range glasses for $2 per pair and the ITEK high-impact lens glasses for $3.50 per pair.
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