2 July 2020,

Individuals are not excellent and infrequently make mistakes. We take shortcuts, forget the best way to do things, or grow to be distracted at times once we shouldn’t. In most aspects of our lives, these aren’t things which have dire consequences. At work, nevertheless, surrounded by hazards, these types of errors can alter lives, even finish them. So, regardless that human beings usually are not excellent, we need to make our safety programs as near perfect as we can.

PPE Focus: Face Shields

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is an aspect of safety the place people tend to make many errors, and for a wide range of reasons. Often, we think that the mere wearing of PPE makes us immune to injury. With as much emphasis as we place on eye protection and head protection, can we lose sight (no pun intended) of protecting our faces? Definitely, eye protection is essential, since eye accidents can lead to permanent blindness. Equally vital is head protection, stopping deadly head accidents the best that we can. Face accidents may not seem as significant a priority. They don’t have the immediate, everlasting, and potentially deadly penalties of the others. With that said, although, an employer’s responsibility is to protect all components of their employees, together with their faces.

That responsibility includes identifying tasks where face shields should be used, providing face shields for employees to make use of, training them to make use of face shields appropriately, and to appropriate employees when face shields are used incorrectly or not used at all. The primary components are easy. Our employees will make mistakes. Correcting those errors and imposing your company’s face shield requirements is an essential part of an effective PPE program. Sadly, too often, this side of the PPE program is not enforced till after an employee is injured.

Situations to Use Face Shields

Consider the next conditions where face shields should have been used, and the results for the injured workers and their employers.

An employee was filling ammonia nurse tanks from a bulk plant. The worker was distracted while closing the valves, and mistakenly turned the incorrect valve, causing a pressure release in the line. The release of anhydrous ammonia splashed on the employee’s face. The employee was hospitalized for chemical burns on and across the face.

An employee was putting in a water pipe at a multifamily residential development project. The worker initially was working an excavator, then climbed down from the excavator to cut a 10-inch water pipe with a cut-off saw. The noticed kicked back and struck the worker’s face. Co-workers called emergency providers, who transported the worker to the hospital. The worker was admitted to the hospital and treated for facial lacerations that prolonged from underneath the left eye to underneath the jaw.

Within the first situation, the employee suffered severe chemical burns. A face shield would have significantly reduced the chemical publicity, the extent of the chemical burns, and probably might have prevented any ammonia from splashing on the worker’s face. Sure, the worker turned the wrong valve, but does that imply that the employer is absolved of all duty for this incident? After all not. The very fact remains that the employer should provide staff filling ammonia nurse tanks with face shields, train staff to use the face shields accurately, and require them to use them when performing this task. Then they need to frequently and constantly implement the face shield requirements. Doing so would have provided additional protection to the employee, even from the effects of the worker’s own actions.

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