Personal Protective Gear P.P.E.

A Message About Working At Height Safety

High Fliers

This was no ordinary high-wire act. Four men standing on a wire 35 feet above the ground, linked together with shoulder bars.  Above them, another pair of men, also linked with shoulder bars. Above them, a woman standing on a chair!

This assemblage-known as the seven-person chair pyramid, would then inch its way across the high wire suspended above the circus floor. It was the most famous high-wire act in the circus.  Do you know who achieved this feat?

None other than the Flying Wallendas.

Karl Wallenda, the patriarch of this daredevil family, was born in Germany in 1905, and by age six, he was already performing in family shows. At 17 Karl began learning high-wire walking and in 1922 he started his own high-wire act.

During one performance in Akron, Ohio, in the thirties Karl and three other performers slipped.  All fell to the wire, but a local paper reported that they did it so gracefully. They seemed to be flying, thus the “Flying Wallendas” were born.

It was in 1947 when Karl Wallenda devised his seven-person chair pyramid act described above, his crowning achievement.  He performed the act successfully until 1962 when a catastrophic fall left Karl’s son paralyzed.

Daredevils may grab our attention, but there are risks. It’s a lesson you should remember when you work at height. Never become comfortable there.  Always think of your safety.

In the years following the catastrophic fall, Karl continued performing his solo “sky walks.” His most famous was a 1,200 foot walk on a high wire 700 feet above the Tallulah Falls Forge in Georgia.

But it was in 1978 when Karl, performing a sky walk in Puerto Rico, fell to his death at age 78. The cause?  Mis-connected guy ropes along the high wire.

When you work at height, don’t take risks with your behavior or equipment.  Remember…

*Use a body harness connected to a fixed anchor by a lanyard, lifeline or deceleration device.  Constantly inspect this equipment for cuts, tears, broken hooks and other problems.

*When needed, strength-tested safety nets should be used.

Working at Height?

Use Proper Fall Protection For the Job

*Copyright 2005 Harkins Safety  B200




A Message About Hand Safety And Personal Protective Equipment

The Hand-Built Hot Rod

Gleaming chrome. Beautiful custom paint. Tufted leather upholstery. If that’s your idea of a hot rod, stand back and make way for the true, original, hand-built hot rod.

It’s called a rat rod and it harkens back to the early days of hot rodding in the 40s, 50s and 60s when enthusiast had more skill than money and built their creations by themselves…by hand.

Back in those days, hot rodders would find a Model T or a Model A, strip off everything  they  could-fenders, running boards, roof, bumpers- and drop a more powerful engine. It was often a Ford Flathead V8.They’d do all the work themselves. It was about having fun, not about who spent the most money. It was about getting your hands greasy. It was about building something unique.

The rat rod movement today is dedicated to bringing back that hand-built heritage.

In a rat rod, the parts are mismatched, cribbed from a variety of vehicles. The body proudly displays its rust and battle scars. Maltese crosses and skulls sit atop gearshifts in homage to biker and rockabilly cultures. The seats are often bare metal. There’s no carpeting and certainly no luxury-car amenities like air conditioning. An old style beam axle is out front, with leaf springs all around instead of modern coils.

To the uninitiated, a rat rod looks unfinished. That’s because it is. It’s a work in progress, an expression of the owners’ ever-changing vision. It is continuously altered, revised and rebuilt. For a rat rodder, nothing tops having a wrench in your hand.

Think about that the next time you’re on the job, and you’ll realize again why hand safety is so important. You should remind yourself every day to:

*Use gloves when the job calls for it, and choose the proper ones.

*Watch out for pinch points.

*Protect your hands from chemicals and burns.

*Beware of sharp objects like banding, saw blades and edges.

It can be easy to overlook hand safety when you’re on the job and trying to get a project finished. Especially if there is a deadline to meet. But if you allow yourself even a moment of inattention, you’re vulnerable to a potential injury. Why take the chance? It’s just not worth risking damage to your hands. They’re essential tools. Just ask any rat rodder with a hand-built creation and a workbench full of wrenches.


*COPYRIGHT 2012 Harkins Safety (B279)


A Message About Eye Protection and P.P.E.

The Long View

There’s nothing unusual about a telescope.  They’re in observatories and backyards across the country.  But a telescope in space-now, that was something to talk about.  And in the late 70s they did.  Here’s the story of the telescope in space and how it almost didn’t happen.

The Hubble Space Telescope is named after American astronomer Edwin Hubble, and its purpose is to get an up-close-and-personal look at the quasars, pixars , quarks and other lights in the sky. Because the Hubble is in space-beyond the earth’s atmosphere-it can take extremely detailed pictures with no background, giving astronomers a better look at the stars than ever before. These are the most inclusive images ever produced of some of the most distant objects in the galaxy.

The Hubble is the only telescope designed to be serviced and maintained in space.  Planned repairs and maintenance will allow it to stay in operation until at least 2013, when its successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, is set to be launched.

But the Hubble almost never happened.  The idea for a space telescope was proposed in the 1940s, and the Hubble was funded in the 1970s, but it wasn’t launched until 1990. Throughout there were technical glitches and budget problems.  In 1986, the launch of the Hubble seemed possible, but the Challenger space shuttle disaster brought the space program to a screeching halt. When the Hubble finally was launched, scientists found that its mirror had been ground incorrectly-a problem fixed by an in-space servicing mission in 1993.  Had the problems not been overcome, the world would never have seen the incredible images the Hubble telescope has produced.

Are you letting “problems” with PPE stop you from protecting your precious eyesight on the job? Most eye injuries occur because workers aren’t aware of potential hazards, don’t use protective eye wear, or use the wrong type. Flying chips or particles, electrical arcing or sparks, chemical gases, light from welding and other harmful sources, chemicals, molten metals, dusts and swinging objects. They are all hazards that require protection.

So, first know which is the right eye protection for the job you are doing and the hazards you will encounter.  If you wear prescription glasses, make sure your protective eye wear fits properly over them.  Second, inspect your PPE before each use.  To be effective, it must be in good condition and fit well.   Third, keep your protective eye wear clean and store it properly.

Remember, take the long view and protect your eyesight for a lifetime of amazing and awe-inspiring sights.


*Copyright 2008 Harkins Safety B-247




A Message About Hearing Protection and P.P.E.

Symphony of Silence

“My noblest faculty has greatly deteriorated.”

“How sad is my lot, I must avoid all things dear to me.”

“I am resolved to rise above every obstacle, but how will it be possible.”

That is what the great composer Beethoven wrote to his close friends when his deafness became more and more inevitable.

“For two years, I have avoided almost all social gatherings.  Often I can scarcely hear someone speaking, the tones yes but not the words.”

As a composer who devoted his life to music, Beethoven tried to keep his affliction a secret. He tried all kinds of remedies-hot baths, cold baths, almond oil, tonics.  Nothing helped.  Unfortunately in Beethoven’s time, no hearing specialist existed. The doctors could only guess as to what was causing the ailment.

Beethoven died in 1827, having lived most of his life in either partial or complete deafness.  Was deafness caused by syphilis, common at that time; was it caused by a virus; or was it caused by the loudness of the music he surrounded himself with? The doctors didn’t know.

Today we know a lot more about deafness.  We know that exposure to loud noise over time can harm your hearing.  Don’t take a chance.  Always wear the right hearing protection every time you must enter or work in a noisy environment.

Improvised hearing protection doesn’t work.  Putting cotton in your ears or wearing headphones won’t protect you from noise.  You need to use approved hearing protection.

The type of hearing protection you use depends on the level of noise exposure.  Earmuffs give you the greatest protection available from excessive noise.  Another choice is earplugs.  They seal the ear canal and come in a variety of sizes. Yet another choice is canal caps. These are soft pads on a headband and they seal the entrance to the ear canal.  Make sure you use the proper hearing protection and make sure you get a good fit for maximum protection.

Noise destroys your ability to enjoy the wonderful sounds of life.  Beethoven suffered from long periods of horrible depression because of his deafness.  Even though he gave the world some of its most beloved music, he was dejected and miserable for most of his life.  Don’t risk your hearing.  The simple act of using the right hearing protection on the job will ensure that you can hear all that life has to offer for many years to come.



*Copyright 2005 Harkins Safety B-203



A Message About Respirator Safety and Personal Protective Gear (PPE)

Free Diving

Take a deep breath.  Now hold it as long as you can underwater.  That’s the essence of free diving.  It’s one of the new breed of extreme sports—filled with challenges and dangers.  But this extreme sport is actually over 2,000 years old.

The pearl divers of ancient Japan would dive underwater to great depths for minutes on end searching for pearls.  Ama divers, as they were called, didn’t have the benefits of scuba tanks, so they trained their bodies and minds to go for long periods without breath.

Free divers today do much the same.  As a modern competitive sport, free diving is the invention of the Bottom Scratchers, a dive club in San Diego that started in the 30s.  But what’s really fascinating is the variety of free diving competitions.

There’s underwater rugby, hockey and spear fishing, even synchronized underwater swimming and so-called mermaid shows.  The premier free diving sport, though is breath-hold diving .  In this sport, highly trained competitors attempt great depths on a single breath.

These elite athletes train their bodies to adapt.  The pulse rate drops.  Blood vessels shrink as blood rushes to the heart and lungs. And the spleen releases oxygen rich red blood cells.  Free divers start with a one-minute breath hold while at rest and progress to holding the breath while walking. Gradually they test themselves underwater at greater and greater depths.  The body is a marvel of adaptation and free divers make use of that in their training.

While training may help divers increase lung capacity, no amount of physical training can protect your lungs from the chemicals, dust particles and other hazardous inhalants that we might encounter on the job. That’s why it is crucial to choose the right respirator when one is called for, make sure it fits properly, and be sure to store it properly for optimum protection.

Workers sometimes make the mistake of going without a respirator, thinking that they will be able to smell airborne hazards. But the fact is, many dangerous and even deadly chemicals are odorless.  If you think that your nose always knows, you might make a tragic mistake.

Why take the risk?  Let’s leave life threatening exploits to the daredevils. On the job, our priority is safety and that means using a respirator.  Arguing otherwise is just wasting your breath.

Save Your Breath…

Keep Your Respirator Ready!

*Copyright 2008   Harkins Safety  (B-241)



A Message About Machine Guards, Lock Out – Tag Out and PPE

Pack A Punch

Muhammed Ali, Joe Frazer, October 1, 1975.  The Philippine Coliseum. It was the greatest fight of all time.  It was the Thrilla in Manilla.

Ali had been taunting Frazer and calling him names.  Each had defeated the other once before, Frazer winning in 1971 and Ali in 1973.  They were angry. By 10:45 a.m., 28,000 spectators had filled the Coliseum and the battle was on.

Ali came out flat-footed, no dancing, confident of victory. He swung powerfully, and Frazer’s legs buckled three times in the first round.  By the third round, Frazer was twice badly shaken, his head snapping back from Ali’s long lefts.

But in the fourth, Frazer seemed to find his range.  He pummeled Ali.  Ali spent the fifth round in his own corner taking Frazer’s body shots.  By the sixth, Frazer was in close, pounding Ali’s body and unleashing his left hook on Ali’s head.  Two of them caught Ali’s jaw, staggering him.  Frazer beat on Ali for four more rounds.  At the end of the tenth, they were even.  Then in the eleventh, Frazer blasted Ali with blow after blow.  It looked like the end.

But Ali dug down.  He tagged Frazer with long right punches until blood trickled from Frazer’s mouth and bumps rose above his eyes. He sent Frazer’s mouthpiece flying in the thirteenth and nearly KO’ed him with a snapping right.  In the fourteenth, Ali delivered nine straight right punches to Frazer’s head.  When the bell sounded for the fifteenth Frazer didn’t answer.  His manager told him, “Sit down, son. It’s all over. No one will ever forget what you did here today.”

Ali had retained his title and won the toughest fight of his life.  “It was like death,” he said. “The closest thing to dying that I know of.”

Professional boxers know never to let their guard down.  On the job, you need to do the same; an unguarded moment can result in an injury.  That’s why, when you’re working with machines, you need to be extra cautious.  They pack a punch, here’s how to block it:

*Always use machine guards, and never reach over or around them.

*Never reach blindly into a machine-you could reach an energized part.

*Keep watches, belts, necklaces and other conductive items away from machinery.

*Always wear the right PPE.

*Perform frequent safety checks.

*Lock out/tag out for repairs or maintenance.

*Stay alert-a deadly punch can come out of nowhere.

Machines Can Pack a Punch

*Copyright 2004  Harkins Safety (B-180)




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