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Thinking Safety October 2012 eNewsletter

Thinking Safety eNewsletter

Thinking Safety Monthly eNewsletter

Keep Employees Safe in Low Light Conditions

October 2012  |  Issue #7

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Safety FAQ

QHow can I test my smoke alarm?

AUsing a smoke alarm's test button will ensure an accurate and complete test that your alarm is working properly. When testing interconnected units be sure to verify all the alarms in the system can be heard.

Aerosol products can also be used to test a smoke alarm. If using this method, be sure to follow the instructions supplied by the manufacturer and direct the spray so it enters the alarm's sensor area. The holes on the cover of an alarm are typically there to emit the alarm's sound. If the spray is aimed directly at this area it sometimes will not enter the sensing chamber area. Smoke usually enters through the opening around the perimeter of the alarm.

Most safety professionals and organizations agree, igniting combustible materials to test your alarm is not recommended. An accident could occur and result in a fire.


As autumn merges with winter and we approach the end of daylight saving time, some employers are faced with workers spending a larger percentage of their work shifts in low-light conditions. While employee visibility is always a safety concern, this time of year is a good time to review important facts concerning worker safety in low-light conditions. One of the most vital considerations in low-light safety is high-visibility (or High-Vis) clothing.

What's considered "High-Vis" clothing?

High-visibility clothing is intended to clearly distinguish a worker from his/her environment. The basic high-visibility garment includes three components: background material, retroreflective material (bands) and combined-performance material (a combination of retroreflective and fluorescent material that may separate the two).

When is High-Vis clothing required and who requires it?

The two key players in high-visibility standards are the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA). The U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) requires nearly all workers in or near highway right-of-way areas to wear clothing that complies with the most current standard, ANSI/ISEA 107-2010. The FHWA publishes the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD); the 2009 version of the MUTCD and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mirror the ANSI/ISE standards.

Does color matter?

Yes. The color of the background material can be either fluorescent yellow-green or fluorescent orange-red. Either will meet the ANSI/ISEA 107-2010 requirements.

When should I replace High-Vis clothing?

ANSI/ISEA 107-2010 directs organizations to make sure they follow service-life guidelines set by the FHWA. Environment, usage and extent of wear can affect the condition of safety apparel. Wearers are urged to become familiar with FHWA and manufacturers' guidelines to ensure the items they are wearing continue to provide the necessary protection for which they are designed.

What is the difference between Class 1, 2, and 3 garments?

The standard specifies three classes of high-visibility garments based on wearer's activities. Garment classes are differentiated by the amount of background material required, the width of retroreflective material used and garment design. The ANSI/ISEA chart below provides more information on the requirements for each class:

Wearer/Activities Garment Class Type
Class 1: Workers where traffic does not exceed 25 mph and there is ample separation from the traffic. These workers often include parking service attendants, warehouse workers in traffic, shopping cart retrievers and those doing sidewalk maintenance. Class 1: Garment must be relatively conspicuous, with background material equal to 217 in. in total area and retroreflective bands not less than 25mm wide.
Class 2: Workers who work near roadways where traffic exceeds 25 mph and workers who need greater visibility in inclement weather. In general, railway workers, school crossing guards, parking and toll gate personnel, airport ground crews and law enforcement personnel directing traffic. Class 2: Greater visibility than the Class 1 garments. Background material must equal 755 in., and the minimum width of retroreflective bands is 35mm.
Class 3: Workers with high task loads in a wide range of weather conditions where traffic exceeds 50 mph. The standard recommends these garments for all roadway construction personnel, vehicle operators, utility workers, survey crews, emergency responders, railway workers and accident site investigators. Class 3: Superior visibility and the highest level of conspicuity. Background material must total 1240 in. Garment must have sleeves with retroreflective material between the shoulders and elbows. The width of retroreflective bands shall not be less than 50mm wide.
Class E: When high-visibility pants are worn without other high-visibility garments, they are considered Class E. When pants are added to Class 2 or 3 garments, the ensemble is considered Class 3.

For more information on Hi-Vis Clothing we invite you to read Grainger Quick Tips Document #153. It will provide even more details about how to keep your workers safe in low-light conditions.

You can also find quality Helly Hansen high-visibility and regular clothing online at®.


ANSI/ISEA 107-2010 American National Standard for High Visibility Safety Apparel,
ANSI/ISEA 207-2006 American National Standard for High-Visibility Safety Vests,

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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: We just purchased a battery-powered, walk-behind hand truck for our shipping and receiving departments. Does OSHA require us to train and certify operators for this device, just like we would for a ride-on powered fork truck?

Interpretation: OSHA states in 29 CFR 1910.178(l)(1) "The employer shall ensure that each powered industrial truck operator is competent to operate a powered industrial truck safely…". The need for training does not depend on whether the operator is sitting or standing. The operator training standard applies to all classifications of powered industrial trucks, which includes not just sit-down rider forklifts, but also powered industrial trucks where the operator is standing and/or walking behind the truck (known as a Class III powered truck). OSHA identifies all classes of powered industrial trucks (including examples of each) in their Powered Industrial Truck eTool.

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Stay Healthy this Fall 

A few reoccurring health issues are making the rounds lately in the news again. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2012 has been a record year so far for the West Nile Virus. 2,636 cases, including 118 fatalities, have been reported as of Sept. 11, 2012. The CDC website has additional information on the West Nile Virus, symptoms and prevention.

The Hantavirus outbreak at the Yosemite National Park is also in the news. As of Sept. 13, 2012, the CDC reports nine cases, including three fatalities. The CDC has identified four species of mice and rats that carry this potentially fatal virus. The CDC's Hantavirus page has statistics and prevention information.

Seasonal flu is also a current health topic. The CDC's Key Facts page contains information on who should and who should not get the vaccine, as well as other important seasonal flu-related information.

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OSHA Extends Enforcement Measures for Residential Construction 

OSHA has once again extended the temporary enforcement measures for the residential construction fall protection directive (STD 03-00-001). The directive, which was effective June 16, 2011, established a six-month period of enforcement ending March 15, 2012. During this period OSHA implemented temporary enforcement measures in residential construction that included priority on-site compliance assistance, penalty reductions, extended abatement dates, measures to ensure consistency and increased outreach.

These temporary enforcement measures were first extended until Sept. 15, 2012. OSHA recently announced another extension of the temporary enforcement measures. All policy and instructions contained in the Sept. 22, 2011, memorandum will continue to remain in effect until Dec. 15, 2012.

For additional information on the fall directive extension measures please visit:

For general information regarding fall protection in construction you can read Grainger Quick Tip #131 Construction Fall Protection, Subpart M.

Check out Grainger's extensive selection of fall protection products.

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Did You Know? 

Grainger offers a wide variety of Capital Safety/DBI Sala products for your fall protection needs.

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Daylight Saving Time 

Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012 marks the clock resetting tradition of daylight saving time. This tradition has the majority of the U.S. "falling back" by setting their clocks back one hour before going to bed on Saturday night. People in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, most of Arizona and some U. S. territory islands do not need to change their clocks.

Setting your clocks back can serve as an excellent reminder to replace the batteries in your smoke detector, as well as check the service life date on you carbon monoxide (CO) detector. If you need one of these products or are looking to replace existing ones, Grainger is your source for smoke alarms, CO alarms and batteries. To learn more about different types and placement of smoke alarms, please see the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) document Learn about Smoke Alarms. For more information on carbon monoxide, please see Grainger's Quick Tips Document Carbon Monoxide Facts.

Another thing you can do while checking batteries and dates on smoke and CO alarms is to take a few minutes to clean the lint from the trap and vent in your clothes dryer. In addition to lint, blockage in dryer exhaust vents also can occur from nests of small birds and other animals. A compromised vent will not exhaust properly to the outside. As a result, overheating can occur and a fire may be the result. For more information see, the NFPA Data Sheet on Clothes Dryers and Washing Machines.

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FREE October Webinar: Fire Extinguisher Selection, Use and Maintenance 

Do you know what type of fire extinguisher is needed at your facility and why? Join Grainger Technical Product Support Specialist and Lieutenant Firefighter/Paramedic, Kent Shea for a webinar on Thursday, October 25th at 1 p.m. CST. Kent will cover fire extinguisher selection, use and maintenance. Topics include how to choose extinguisher type, what UL ratings really mean, how to use an extinguisher, and much more!

If you're interested in participating, visit our 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.

If you have any questions regarding product specifications or applications, email us at