Do you ever notice that there is a lot of hearsay in the world of safety? Today we’re setting the record straight. Here are some of the most common BS claims we’ve heard, and their actual truths.
1. Self-Retracting Lifelines (SRLs) must be serviced each year.
This one is hot topic. We’ve all heard that an SRL has to be inspected two years after buying (from new) and then annually thereafter. But, the new SRL Standard Z259.2.2-17 is basing inspection requirements on the equipment’s environmental and storage conditions. Our Fall Protection Specialist, Tony Guarino, explains, “With the new standard, SRLs have to be serviced every five years for light use, two years for heavy use and once annually for severe use.” Refer to your specific make and model to see if the new standard and inspection schedule applies.
2. It doesn’t matter if your respirator is uncomfortable. You have to wear what’s given to you.
Not true! When workers are given uncomfortable PPE, they’re less likely to wear it – and, the CSA board knows it. The new CAN/CSA-Z94.4-18 now states, “Respirator comfort is an important factor in wearer acceptance. Respirators with greater wearer acceptance are more likely to be worn appropriately.” It is now required that employers ensure that their workers’ comfort is considered when selecting respiratory protection. Now, personal preferences on breathing resistance, impairment of vision, impairment of communications and respirator weight are all to be evaluated during respiratory fit tests. That means you can refuse uncomfortable respirators.
3. As long as you routinely change your air filters, you’re safe from breathing in pollutants.
Routinely switching out your air filters is a good start, but the air brought in through your vents isn’t the only air you breathe. Outdoor pollutants such as exhaust, pollen, smoke from chimneys or fire pits, and local construction projects can creep inside through open windows and doors, gaps in a buildings structure or poorly-maintained ventilation systems. Indoor pollutants (which we can often forget about) include natural substances like pet dander, mould and furniture fabric. During renovations, asbestos fibres from building materials and dust from sanding and cleaning operations can also add to the mix. If you’re worried about your indoor air quality, it’s worth reading Jonathan McCallum’s blog, How to Measure Dust in the Workplace.
4. It’s okay if your earplugs stick out a bit.
No way! If you’re wearing your earplugs properly, they shouldn’t be visible from the front at all. You can learn more about this in our Earplugs for Dummies guide. (Also, the woman in the photo is definitely not inserting them properly).
5. If you’re working from a bucket truck, you don’t need to worry about fall protection.
ERRRRR! (The buzzer sound made on Family Feud when you get an answer wrong). Just like with any other working-at-heights platform, donning the appropriate fall protection when working up high from the bucket of a boom truck is a must. That means you must have the appropriate harness, lanyard and accessories like a safety bucket or dropped-tools tethers with you at all times. If you thought this one was true, it’s probably a good idea that you read our post on the 4 questions to ask yourself before working from a boom truck.
6. Leaving a door or window open for ventilation is enough.
Think again! While getting fresh air in your work area might seem like a good idea, it can’t guarantee that you won’t be breathing in harmful (and even carcinogenic) gasses or debris. In Michael Douglas’ blog, Welding: The Cancer Risk No One Thinks About, he covers all the precautions to consider.
7. You have to comply with your employer’s orders.
If you feel unsafe in a situation, you have every right to say no. In Part II of the Canada Labour Code, it states that an employee can refuse dangerous work as long as they have reasonable cause to believe that it presents a danger. Specifically, the Code states that an employee may refuse in the following circumstances:
- To use or operate a machine that constitutes a danger to the employee or to another employee
- To work in an unsafe location
- To perform an activity that constitutes a danger to the employee or to another employee
Don’t ever feel like you have to comply with an order that might put you in danger.
8. When you buy a fire extinguisher, it’ll work for a couple of years.
This one definitely isn’t true. Fire extinguishers must be inspected every single month, and serviced and/or certified by a fire protection company each year (Tip: we can do that for you!). If you want to learn more about your fire extinguishers’ requirements, our Beginner’s Guide to Fire Extinguishers is a good place to start.
9. Leather gloves are cut resistant.
While leather gloves may seem thick and durable, in reality they are just dried animal skin. It may feel tough to the touch, but the material cannot guarantee resistance from cuts. To ensure your hands are safe, it’s important to get a pair that offers additional protection, like a Kevlar® cut-resistant liner.
10. You can have a bit of scruff when wearing a respirator.
Au contraire! Facial hair is a definite no-no when it comes to donning a respirator. To ensure you’re getting a proper seal, you must be clean shaven each day. Not willing to part with your beard? The alternative option is wearing a loose-fitting respirator (hood or visor) that’s attached to a powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR) instead.
11. As long as you’re wearing a pair of steel-toe boots on site, you’re safe.
Not all safety footwear is created equal, and those little symbols you see on protective footwear actually make a difference. As a rule of thumb, the green CSA triangle (which indicates toe and sole puncture protection) and the orange omega symbol (indicating electrical shock) are standard in most industrial locations, but it’s important to know the differences when selecting footwear so you don’t end up with the wrong kind. You can learn more about each of the symbols (and what they mean) in this blog.
12. There’s no legislation in Canada for emergency showers.
This one is a bit of a trick question. While Canada doesn’t have a set standard for emergency showers and eyewashes, almost every province directly sites the ANSI Z358.1 standard as the guide to follow.
While we’re on the topic, there are a number of other BS claims surrounding the topic of emergency showers (like that you can refill eyewash bottles with distilled water). You can learn more about those myths in our blog, Emergency Showers and Eyewashes: Your Top Questions Answered.
13. Wearing a respirator is the best way to protect yourself from chemicals.
While the most common way workplace chemicals enter the body is by breathing, there are actually four chemical routes of entry: inhalation (breathing), absorption (skin contact), ingestion (eating) and injection (puncturing the skin). If you’re working with or around chemicals, it’s important that you wear a respirator, protective clothing and practice good hygiene by washing your hands before taking a break.
14. Washing your PPE is just for show.
Sure, it’s nice to clean off your equipment after an especially dusty or dirty day at work – but did you know that it also helps improve your safety and wellbeing? Cleaning and maintaining your life-saving equipment is never superficial.
When you enter an IDLH atmosphere such as a fire, a mine or even a messy construction site, hazardous chemicals and particulate matter can settle onto your PPE. Once you bring the equipment back inside your car or home, these carcinogens can be disturbed and/or emit toxic gases. This can lead to you breathing in the harmful soot and carcinogens without the protection of a respirator, causing negative, long-term health effects including cancer.
And there you have it: 14 BS facts about safety that aren’t true. Have any others? Be sure to comment below!