The Importance of Proper Use of Personal Protective Equipment

Discussing safety and reminding your crew of the importance of PPE safety is important to minimize the risk of exposure and health issues that follow. Knowing how to properly wear PPE and the signs of exposure is everyone’s responsibility and is important to any work site to keep everyone safe.

Common Mistakes Made that Cause Chemical Exposure for Interior Spray Foam Applicators

Daily project meetings are an ideal time to discuss safety and remind your crew the importance of PPE safety. There are a few common reasons we see a breakdown in safety and all of these can be prevented. In addition to the health effects of chemical exposure, improper use of personal safety equipment and protective clothing often effects the quality of work due to stress driven fatigue and an impaired working condition. Safety must not stop with one another. We must do those things necessary to protect other tradesman as well as potential visitors. When on the job, it is everyone’s responsibility to use PPE and equipment properly. Here are a couple telltale signs of chemical exposure – although it’s not always immediately visible. 

Signs of Chemical Exposure: 

  1. Physical changes. Impaired or clouded vision, skin irritation such as rash or blemishes and/or impaired restricted breathing. Workers should be encouraged to report these changes so they may be assessed to avoid unsafe work conditions.  
  2. Attitude, strength and cohesiveness of the team breaks down. Any amount of chemical exposure that is prolonged from job to job will make a person more and more irritated and less of a team member. So if your applicator is suddenly showing signs of irritation, check for proper use of protective equipment and protective clothing. 
  3. Strength. Throughout the early part of the day, the team feels strong and capable of completing a lot of work. After lunch, applicators begin feeling weaker and production slows down for everyone. You could just be tired or hung over, but is most likely chemical exposure. You are breathing in part chemical and oxygen at the same time and it’s time to check for proper PPE safety 

How to Prevent Improper Use of Respiratory Protection and Personal Safety Equipment: 

  1. Place your fresh air system securely where it is impossible to suck in chemical. Perform a fit test annually for every employee. For tight-fitting respirators, seal checks should be performed when the respirator is first used, during service and again annually for continued proper fit. Visit OSHA.gov for details on how to properly perform a Fit Test and Seal Check or with the specific supplier of the equipment. 
  2. Maintain masks and hoods by replacing filters, maintaining pumps and air supply hoses. With any type of mask or hood, clean or replace as needed any filters, seals, lenses or anything interfering with the proper and safe use of the equipment. Ventilation to minimize concentrations of mists and fumes can improve environmental conditions making the work overall easier.  
  3. Don’t repeatedly take your mask on and off in an unvented room. Doing this increases the chances of being exposed while the mask is off and increases the chance of the mask being improperly sealed when putting it back on. Keep your mask cleaned and stored in a plastic bag after use as recommended. 
  4. On tight fitting respirators, facial hair that does not allow a complete seal around the face is not acceptable. 

Visit OSHA’s website for a full list of requirements and how to ensure proper use of personal safety equipment. View the safety equipment we have available. 

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Jim Davidson is the Managing Partner at SprayWorks Equipment Group. He has 40 years of experience in the spray foam industry and has worked alongside many of the industry pioneers. Jim has designed and created industry equipment such as; Spraybot, Barrel Blazer, Roboliner and Polybot - among others.

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