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Thinking Safety November 2012 eNewsletter

Thinking Safety eNewsletter

Thinking Safety Monthly eNewsletter

Keep Employees Safe in Low Light Conditions

October 2012  |  Issue #7

Safety FAQ

QHow do I go about selecting the proper respirator cartridge for my application?

AIt's important to be aware of a respirator cartridge's limitations. To determine the proper cartridge for air-purifying respirators you may contact a safety professional or consult your workplace's Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for the substance that needs to be filtered. It is important to make sure that the brand of cartridge you are using is the SAME as the brand of mask you are using. All cartridges are assigned a color designating the type of contaminant they are designed to filter:

Olive: Multicontaminant
White: Acid gas
Black: Organic vapors
Green: Ammonia gas
Yellow: Acid gas and organic vapors
Magenta: Any particulates - P100


Many people fear activities that involve heights because of the chance of falling. Even in seemingly safe environments such as a tall building or an airplane, it can be difficult to control the anxiety of being well above the ground.

These same fears exist in the workplace – and with good reason. In 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that 721 construction workers died on the job, with 35% of those fatalities resulting from slips, trips or falls.

When it comes to mitigating the fear of fall-related injuries, the right protective equipment is the first place most people start. However, there are many questions in the workday world when it comes to fall protection equipment such as if and when it's needed and how to use the equipment. All this information can be confusing and that can lead to potentially dangerous situations in the workplace. This article will attempt to clear up many common misconceptions about fall protection by addressing five common fall protection myths.

Myth #1: When using a ladder more than 6' tall, I need fall protection.
According to OSHA the answer is, no. A 6' portable ladder is one of the few exceptions to a fall protection requirement. The ladder's portability means trying to find an anchor point to tie off can be difficult.

Myth #2: I'm only a few feet off the ground so I don't need fall protection.
Wrong. If you are 6' above the ground, fall protection is required (unless, as mentioned above, you are on a portable ladder). This is according to OSHA's Fall Protection standard 1926.501(b)(1) "Unprotected sides and edges." The standard says, "Each employee on a walking/working surface (horizontal and vertical surface) with an unprotected side or edge which is 6' (1.8 m) or more above a lower level shall be protected from falling by the use of guardrail systems, safety net systems or personal fall arrest systems."

Myth #3: I can connect multiple lanyards to one anchor point.
This is not a good idea. OSHA and lanyard manufacturers frown on connecting more than one lanyard to an anchor point (like a concrete anchorage connector or a grip). According to Miller Fall Protection, a manufacturer of fall protection equipment, when two lanyards are connected to one anchor point, the possibility of rollout or accidental disengagement goes up considerably.

Myth #4: If you are a residential roofer, you don't have to have fall protection.
OSHA has withdrawn the compliance directive related to Residential Roofing Fall Protection Exception issued in 1995. On December 22, 2010, a new compliance directive was established due to the high number of fall-related deaths in construction. The previous directive allowed residential builders to bypass certain fall protection requirements. Under the new policy, employers engaged in residential construction must comply with the OSHA Standard 29 1926.501(b)(13) and, therefore familiarize themselves with the term and definition of "residential construction." The term is not interpreted as covering construction work if it involves these two elements:

  1. The end-use of the structure being built must be a home (e.g. a dwelling).

  2. The structure being built must be constructed using traditional wood frame construction materials and methods. The limited use of structural steel in a predominantly wood-framed home, such as a steel I-beam to help support wood framing, does not disqualify a structure from being considered residential construction.

Workers engaged in residential construction 6' or more above lower levels must be protected by conventional fall protection (i.e., guardrail systems, safety net systems or personal fall arrest systems) or alternative fall protection measures allowed under 1926.501(b) for particular types of work. The original compliance date for the new directive for the affected builders was June 16, 2011, but OSHA recently extended its temporary enforcement measures until December 15, 2012.

Myth #5: Body belts are still sold. They must be OK for fall protection.
Body belts were once used as fall protection gear. Now they can only be used in positioning applications and are not to be used for vertical, free fall protection. OSHA defines "positioning" in 29 CFR Part 1926 Subpart M (Fall Protection); a "positioning device" is defined in §1926.500(b) as "a body belt or body harness system rigged to allow an employee to be supported on an elevated vertical surface, such as a wall, and work with both hands free while leaning [emphasis added]." These devices are designed specifically to stop a worker from falling from a static, head-up position.

In any situation or occupation where falls may occur, it is important for employees to be trained in fall protection. OSHA regulations state, "The employer shall provide a training program for each employee who might be exposed to fall hazards. The program shall enable each employee to recognize the hazards of falling and shall train each employee in the procedures to be followed in order to minimize these hazards. The employer shall ensure that each employee has been training, as necessary, by a competent person…"

Just like these common fall protection myths, the fear of falling may never go away. Improving safety with the right information combined with proper training and equipment can help calm nerves and reduce the chances of injury or death from a fall.

Grainger offers a full selection of fall protection equipment. For more information on fall protection, check out Grainger Quick Tips No. 130.

Source: OSHA

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Ask a Certified Safety Professional 

Ask a CSP   by Wes Maertz, CSP

Technical Support Specialist
Certified Safety Professional
B.S.E. in Occupational Safety
14 years at Grainger
Question: Merle recently joined the wood fabricating staff at ZYX Corp. During the interview process, it was obvious that Merle wore prescription glasses. Now that Merle is hired, his supervisor informed Merle that he's going to have to purchase prescription safety eyewear if he cannot make do with the standard safety glasses the other employees wear. Is Merle's employer obligated to provide Merle with prescription safety eyewear?

Interpretation:Merle's employer is obligated to pay for the minimum level of PPE. The minimum level would be an over-the-glass (OTG) style safety eyewear. Prescription safety eyewear is exempt under OSHA 29 CFR 1910.132(h)(2) as long as Merle is allowed to wear or use the prescription safety eyewear off the job site. If Merle's employer does not allow Merle to take the prescription safety eyewear off the job site, then ZYX Corp. picks up the tab.

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Recovering from Superstorm Sandy 

Hurricane Sandy has passed but the widespread devastation will have lingering effects on the Eastern Seaboard for months to come. OSHA is encouraging all workers and volunteers engaged in clean-up and recovery to be aware of hazards and steps they can take to protect themselves. Hazards associated with the clean-up efforts include electrical hazards, carbon monoxide poisoning, falls, struck-bys, lacerations, musculoskeletal injuries and infections.

Protective measures should include the evaluation of the work areas and supplying personnel with the proper personal protective equipment. Types of equipment needed include, but are not limited to, hard hats, safety glasses, reflective vest, shoes, respirators and gloves.

OSHA's online information regarding cleanup and recovery from Sandy includes listings of the most common hazards as well as the equipment required when dealing with them.

For more information and products available from Grainger to help deal with this emergency please see our Hurricane Preparedness Page.

Finally, for those of us who are not direct affected by Sandy's aftermath but still wish to contribute please visit the Red Cross Disaster Relief page.

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GHS Compliance Dates Approaching Quickly 

As many safety professionals know, OSHA published the final rule for implementing the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) in March of 2012. Universal compliance with the new standard is not something OSHA expects to happen overnight. With this in mind, OSHA has implemented a transition period, or phase in period, that includes two key dates for implementation.

The first key date of compliance centers around training your employees on the new labels and data sheets. In just one year, by December 1, 2013, all employers must train their employees to know and understand the new label elements and data sheet format. Although full compliance with GHS is not required until June 1, 2015, employers need to make sure their employees can recognize and understand the new information prior to full compliance (as they will begin seeing the new format prior to full compliance).

For additional information on GHS you can visit our Quick Tip #374: Globally Harmonized System. You can also find resources on the OSHA website.

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OSHA to Review Chemical Exposure Limits 

At the recent American Industrial Hygiene Conference (AIHce), OSHA Assistant Secretary Michaels addressed the topic of updating the current OSHA PELs (permissible exposure limits). Michaels stated that OSHA's goal is to ensure that occupational exposures are below any published limit to keep workers safe. OSHA plans to release annotated PEL tables which will display exposure limits from other groups such as: NIOSH recommended exposure limits (RELs), American Conference of Government Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) threshold limit values (TLVs), and CalOSHA's chemical exposure standards. The tables would show the exposure limits above compared to OSHA's PELs found at 29 CFR 1910.1000 subpart Z, also known as the "Z Tables".

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Fall Weather Safety 

As we are all enjoying the activities of fall, winter is just around the corner. As winter approaches, it is important to be prepared for extreme weather and bone-chilling temperatures. When crews are working outside, it is vital that employees recognize the potential dangers associated with prolonged exposure to freezing temperatures. Cold-related injuries can result from four environmental conditions: low temperatures, high/cool winds, dampness and cold water. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and OSHA each have guidelines on how people can protect themselves when temperatures plummet.

Additional information can be found in Grainger's Quick Tips #223 and #295. You can also get an early start to outfitting your crews with the cold weather gear available from Grainger.

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News You Can Use 

  • Since 1986, the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) public awareness project "Tie One On For the Holidays" has asked holiday drivers to tie a MADD red ribbon to a visible location on their vehicles or place a window decal on the vehicle's window. The ribbons represent a driver's pledge to drive safe, sober and to buckle up. The campaign hopes to remind everyone to take the same pledge this holiday season.

  • Before it gets too cold, now is a great time to have your furnace or other heating appliances cleaned and inspected. Make sure all your heating devices are functioning properly and venting correctly. Confirming the safety and serviceability of this equipment now can help prevent deadly carbon monoxide accidents later. See Grainger for a complete offering of carbon monoxide detectors, smoke alarms and batteries.

  • Finally, let's talk turkey. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) strongly discourage the use of outdoor gas-fueled turkey fryers. In fact, the UL considers gas-fueled turkey fryers to be such a hazard that they do not provide UL certifications for any gas-fueled fryers. In addition to the obvious fire hazard, other hazards associated with turkey fryers include tipping hazards, overspills, overheating and burns. Additional information on turkey fryers can be found by visiting the NFPA website. You can also obtain additional information, including proper turkey fryer use, by watching an informative video on the UL website.

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FREE November Webinar 

Slips, Trips and Falls with a Spotlight on Cold Weather Hazards

Grainger Technical Support Specialist Kelli B. will host a Tech Talk® webinar on Slips, Trips and Falls with an emphasis on Cold Weather Hazards. This free webinar takes place on November 29 at 1 p.m. CT. Topics on the agenda include how weather can be related to slips, trips and falls, housekeeping measures and the OSHA-General Duty Clause.

If you're interested in participating, visit our Tech Talk Webinar page to register.

Register Now!

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Think Safety. Think Grainger.®

Rely on North America's largest distributor of safety products. You'll also find a network of safety resources that help you stay in compliance and help protect employees from hazardous situations. Count on Grainger for lockout tagout, fall protection equipment, confined space products, safety signs, personal protective equipment (PPE), emergency response and so much more!

Please Note
The content in this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only. This publication is not a substitute for review of the applicable government regulations and standards, and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific compliance questions should refer to the cited regulation or consult with an attorney.

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