Whether the utility provides electricity, gas, water or wastewater treatment, management has a duty to protect employees by providing a safe working environment and the personal protective equipment (PPE) required for work in the establishment and in the field. However, despite various PPE options, many utilities do not provide or specify important lighting tools, namely headlamps. Unfortunately, the lack of suitable projectors can lead to serious accidents, even fatalities, in dangerous places.
As a tool, headlamps are essential when hands-free lighting is required in low-light areas for a wide range of tasks. This may include the operation / maintenance of machinery and the assessment of its condition, or the maintenance of pipes, power lines and other distribution channels. Headlamps are also necessary for the safe and efficient movement of personnel throughout the plant and off-site, especially in confined or confined spaces.
For utility workers working with overhead or underground power lines, gas lines, or treatment areas, having a headlamp that does not generate sparks is essential. This is particularly important whenever flammable gases, vapors, liquids or off gasses are present.
However, although they meet the OSHA PPE definition, “equipment worn to minimize exposure to hazards that cause serious injury and illness in the workplace,” headlamps are often not suitable. included in PPE budgets. As a result, utility workers may be required to purchase their own headlamps from industry supply stores or hardware stores. Unfortunately, if they put too much emphasis on price and choose products that don’t have the necessary options, the units can be unsafe to use for certain jobs, settings, or conditions. This could expose the utility to potential liability.
To protect staff in any working environment and defend against such liability, an increasing number of security guards include or specify headlamps within the budget, such as PPE.
“It’s safer for [utilities] provide suitable headlamps in advance rather than leaving employees to make their own purchases. However, departmental approval of an intrinsically safe product only would solve the problem. Preventing even a single serious injury, a fire or explosion would pay for any implementation, ”says Scott Colarusso, general manager and co-owner, All Hands Fire Equipment & Training, a Neptune City, NJ supplier of fire safety equipment for various industries that have equipped and trained thousands of firefighters across the country.
When utilities provide intrinsically safe headlamps, specially designed not to be an ignition source in hazardous areas, it protects workers wherever they need to go in the factory and in the field from serious accidents. , even fatal. Essentially, everyone is covered and the risk of an accident is eliminated.
“Without certified safety headlamps suitable for the application, [utilities] are exposed to potential liability in the event of an incident. By providing workers with headlamps designed for any hazardous environment [that could be encountered in the plant, utilities] can prevent the problem, ”says Colarusso.
Require greater security
On utility sites, headlamps improve the safety and efficiency of personnel, because wherever they look, lighting accompanies them, leaving their hands free. With multiple beam modes, these devices are designed to be easily usable even when workers are wearing heavy gloves. Typically, units are waterproof and chemical resistant, ready for use in a rough environment, which may include being thrown in a truck toolbox or falling. However, the devices must provide enough light for sufficient “burn time” to last an entire shift without changing the batteries.
However, for electrical, gas, water or wastewater treatment utilities, typical headlamps can be a dangerous ignition source if workers unintentionally enter a hazardous area or are exposed to it. flammable materials or conditions.
Safety considerations are particularly important given the recently published OSHA standard for construction work in confined spaces (Subpart AA of 29 CFR 1926). The new standard recognizes that these spaces can present physical and atmospheric hazards that can be avoided if recognized and addressed prior to entry. It is designed to eliminate potentially fatal hazards by requiring employers to determine the types of spaces their workers are in; what dangers might exist; and how these hazards should be secured (including the use of headlamps, flashlights and other lighting equipment with appropriate safety ratings).
Therefore, in production, service or maintenance environments where the environment is inherently volatile, headlamps must carry the appropriate certification for various classes, divisions and groups of materials. When a headlamp is rated for all of these options, it essentially means that it is certified safe for use in most hazardous environments.
Comply with safety standards
As an example in industry, Princeton Tec’s intrinsically safe Vizz II headlamp meets requirements (Classes I, II, III; Divisions 1,2; and Groups AG). Princeton Tec, based in Trenton, NJ, is a producer of ETL and UL approved lighting products and manufactures headlamps that meet stringent global safety requirements.
“Whether it’s for OSHA, Zone 0, or state standards, intrinsically safe products like the Vizz II headlamp help safety officials make sure all bases are covered. So there is nothing in the lighting that could set off a fire or potential explosion in a work environment, ”says John Navarro, purchasing agent for Bayville, NJ, CWR Wholesale Distribution, a supplier to various industries. , including automotive, consumer electronics, oil and gas, and marine. Previously, Navarro was a nationally registered paramedic and certified hazardous materials technician from the State of New Jersey.
Since headlights can be dropped or bumped into demanding utility settings, it’s also important that the equipment is designed to reliably withstand rough handling.
In response, some manufacturers like Princeton Tec are now making headlights with a durable thermoplastic material designed to withstand drops and rough handling, including being thrown into a truck bed. The units not only provide up to 10 hours of light without changing the battery, but also have superior resistance to common and potentially hazardous chemicals and solvents used by utilities.
The latest models also offer anti-static properties and safety features, such as a mechanical locking mechanism that requires a tool to open the battery compartment. This prevents users from inadvertently opening the battery case in a hazardous environment, which could not only result in electric shock, but also potentially ignite or explode.
“Many of our corporate customers specify Princeton Tec headlamps and lighting products because of their reliability, durability, price and manufacture in the United States,” says Navarro. “When intrinsically safe equipment is important, it’s basically the gold standard. “
According to Navarro, among CWR Wholesale Distribution’s wide range of industrial customers, the motivation for budgeting and supplying intrinsically safe headlamps and lighting as PPE is to avoid potential liability.
“With an intrinsically safe headlamp, you meet the standard and allow employees to work in the safest possible conditions with the most modern equipment,” says Navarro. “Technology today is cheaper than five years ago. It is therefore affordable for corporate security budgets.
Many Navarro industrial customers are willing to spend a little more on higher quality, compliant and intrinsically safe headlamps.
“Our industrial customers want to know that their plant personnel can safely use their intrinsically safe headlamps anywhere. Safety committees don’t want to worry about where personnel can use the units, whether it is safe to use them in unsafe conditions, ”Navarro said.
While the production, servicing and maintenance of utilities comes with some inherent risks, facilities seeking to improve safety can do so by providing workers with ultra-safe headlamps that ensure compliance.
So, as the need for safety only increases with tighter regulation of utilities, facilities will increasingly make headlamps a mandatory part of any PPE budget or safety program to minimize operational risk. and responsibility.