CoatingsPro Magazine

MAR 2016

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COATINGSPRO MARCH 2016 33 WORK IT SAFE Results of a recently completed National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) study confirm the necessity of the current Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) respirator fit testing requirement, both annually and when physical changes have occurred. The study's conclusions emphasize that respirator users who have lost more than 20 pounds (9.1 kg) should be re-tested to be sure that the current size and model of respirator in use still properly fits. For more than three years, NIOSH researchers followed a cohort of 229 subjects measuring N95 filtering facepiece respirator (FFR) fit and physical characteristics (e.g., face size and weight) every six months. Prior to this study, very little research existed looking at the relationship between respirator fit over an extensive period of time and the change in facial dimensions, as could be caused by weight gain or loss. OSHA requires FFR users to undergo an annual fit test, which is vital to ensuring continued proper respirator fit. In addition to annual fit testing, OSHA requires that fit testing be repeated "whenever an employee reports, or the employer or the physician or other licensed health care professional makes visual observations of changes in the employee's physical condi- tion that could affect respirator fit (e.g., facial scarring, dental changes, cosmetic surgery, or an obvious change in body weight)" (OSHA, 1998). This study found that respirator fit did change over time. The greater the weight loss, the higher the chance that respirator fit will change. Therefore, this NIOSH study supports the current OSHA requirement for annual fit testing. Additionally, respirator users who lose more than 20 pounds (9.1 kg) between his or her last fit test should prioritize sched- uling a fit test to ensure proper respirator fit. Though further research is necessary, because of the similarity in face seal between other tight-fit- ting respirators and FFRs, these findings may be applicable not only to FFRs but also to other tight-fitting respirators. The full NIOSH study titled, "Temporal Changes in Filtering-Facepiece Respirator Fit," is published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene. For more information, contact: www.cdc.gov/niosh can actually have the desired efect of protecting a worker. Typically, a roof is separated into either a steep- or low-slope roof. Tough the industry separates them at the rise-to-slope ratio of 3/12, which is a 14-degree angle, OSHA separates them at 4/12, an 18.4-degree angle. Anything greater than this is consid- ered steep. Stepping aside for a moment, let's look at the fall protection options available for low-slope roofng. Tey are personal fall arrest systems, guardrail systems, safety net systems, warning line systems, safety monitor- ing systems, scafolding, and personal fall restraint systems. Each of these options has its limitations and uses. However, warning lines often become the default because they most readily allow for a roof system or coating to be installed. For steep-sloped roofs (those greater than 4/12), there are options, but utility and cost impact viability, especially as the slope increases. Te range of options OSHA allows for steep-sloped roofs are personal fall arrest systems (PFAs), guardrails, safety nets, scafolds (as a form of guardrail), and fall restraint (even though no regulatory provisions defne it). Guardrails and scafolds are either unworkable or cost-prohibitive on practically every reroofng job. Safety nets are infeasible except possibly as skylight protection. And fall restraint, while workable to a certain degree, has signifcant edge work limitations. PFAs then become the only true option, and they also can present a critical safety gap as explained shortly. As a result, federal OSHA's options are extremely limited, and, as such, they hamstring safety professionals' eforts to maximize safety and productivity. Conversely, in California, a state-plan state, all three factors are considered, and eight steep-slope options are ofered. Not surprisingly, California also enjoys arguably the safest falls-related statistics in the country when adjusted for workforce size. CalOSHA allows diferent options based on diferent heights, systems to be applied, and roof slopes. Sadly, federal OSHA is fxated on ground-to-eave height of six feet (1.8 m) as the only factor to trigger fall protection. It is not concerned with the synergistic efect of height overlapped with slope and membrane, and the numbers also tell that story. To wit, in 2014, California had 47 construc- tion-related fatalities, 21 of which were fall-related, with a construction work force of approximately 700,000. Tis can be compared to Texas (a federal OSHA state), which had 105 construc- tion-related fatalities, 29 of which were fall-related, with a construction workforce of 672,000. By and large, low-slope roofs are the domain for coating applications; it is here where I' ll focus attention on the consideration of the three factors: height, slope, and membrane. Low-slope fall protection is often looked at rather basically, meaning a contractor will commit to one or two approaches; for example, the contrac- tor will implement warning lines and guardrails or warning lines and PFAs, and the company will use that combina- tion almost exclusively. But even a low-slope roof has Safety Watch

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