This is a continuation of our post on respirators.  You can find the first segment here.

For anyone that has to wear Personal Protective Equipment, it’s a common fact that if it isn’t comfortable, it is going to be harder to wear it for a full day’s shift.  When deciding on a respirator, it is important to find the right type that fits around the face.  The type of exposure in the workplace determines the level of protection that is needed.

OSHA requires Fit Testing for all employees.  Workers must have time to learn how to put the respirator on the right way, and be sure that it fits.  This Fit Testing must be done before the initial use of the respirator and worn at least five minutes before the test is done.  There are Respirators Fit Test Supplies specifically for this purpose.  User Seal Checks are when the wearer inhales and exhales several times, to be sure the respirator will collapse slightly when inhaling and expand slightly upon exhaling.  If air leaks out between the face and the respirator, it is not a good facial fit.  A User Seal Check does not substitute for a Fit Test.

When choosing the right respirator for the job, you will need:

  • Soft, foam nose pads;
  • Bendable nose bands;
  • Wide adjustable head straps – they work better than the thin ones that dig into skin or get tangled in hair.

A dual-exhalation valve helps direct exhaled air down and away from face to reduce fogging glasses.  If you have changed any facial structure, due to loss of weight or surgery, a new type of respirator may be necessary to ensure a good fit.  Respirators will not fit properly over beards.

Be sure to check the label for NIOSH-approved equipment, and read all warnings and instructions that come with the respirator.  Your choice should be based on contaminants, workplace concentrations, and other site-specific conditions.  The workplace should be compliant with Federal, State, and Local regulations on worker safety, including, but not limited to OSHA regulations.  For more information, please go to the NIOSH /NPPTL (National Personal Protective Laboratory) website.



You may not work in an environment where you need a N95 Particulate Respirator; however, in the United States, there are an estimated 5 million workers in 1.3 million workplaces that are required to wear them.  Because respirators are recommended by OSHA’s Respiratory Protection Standard to control occupational diseases caused by breathing air contaminated with gases, vapors, fumes, sprays, mists, sprays, fogs, smokes, and harmful dusts, there are many important things to understand about them.  OSHA requires Fit Testing for all employees that are required to wear light-fitting respirators; workers should be allowed time to learn how to properly put them on and know that they have the proper fit.

A respirator is a Personal Protective Equipment device that is worn on the face and covers at least the mouth and nose.  They protect the worker in two ways, one by removing contaminants from the air- Air Purifying Respirators.  Second, Air Supplying Respirators protect by supplying clean, breathable air from another source.

One of the most commonly used NIOSH-approved respirators is the N95 respirator.  The approved regulation defines the N95 as a filter class that removes at least 95% of airborne particles during “worse case” testing using “most penetrating” sized particles during testing.  Filters meeting such criteria are given a rating of 95.

Here are the different types of respirators:

Filter Class              Description

  • N95, N99, N100:    Filters at least 95%, 99%, 99.97% of airborne particles. Not resistant to oil.
  • R95, R99, R100:    Filters at least 95%, 99%, 99.97% of airborne particles. Somewhat resistant to oil.
  • P95, P99, P100:    Filters at least 95%, 99%, 99.97% of airborne particles. Strongly resistant to oil.
  • HE (High Efficiency Particulate Air):    Filters at least 99.97% of airborne particles. For use on PAPRs only. PAPRs use only HE filters.

Two of the most common styles of respirators are the cup style (preformed type) and flat fold type.  The elastomeric respirators have a molded facepiece, which uses replaceable filtering cartridges.

If an employer has told you that respiratory protection is needed because of inhaling hazards from airborne particles, it is important that you understand the importance of selecting comfortable, well-fitting PPE that you will be wearing 8 to 12 hours per day.  Although they furnish the PPE, it is up to you to be sure that you are compliant and inspect your protective equipment prior to wearing it every day.

In Part II, we will talk about Fit Testing and User Seal Checks.



While the kids are counting down the days until Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, the rest of the families are scurrying about to get a few last-minute gifts, making sure that all the grocery list has been filled, and thinking about all there is to do until that special time.

All the folks at Texas America Safety Company and Blog4Safety wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and that your loved ones will be safe and well.  There will be lots of travelers on the highways, and we urge you to be mindful of getting to your destination safely. Many of our friends are stranded in airports in northern parts of the country, due to bad weather.  We hope everyone gets to their point of arrival without any problems.  It’s always a good idea if you are going by car to take along some supplies, just in case.  Be sure to have your cell phone with you, and please don’t text while you are driving!

Also, this is a time of the year that there are many folks that are not fortunate enough to have any packages under the tree, or even a tree, for that matter.  Keep them in your heart and do what you can to help.  There will be people that are just happy to have a warm meal, or a place to stay.  Hopefully, in the coming year, we will see an increase in jobs for the unemployed, and fewer people losing their homes.

If the old saying “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link” has any truth to it, we must all stand together to become strong.  Keep this in mind when you see someone who needs a little boost, either physically or emotionally.  Be thankful for what you have and remember the foundation you were given to be able to provide for your family.

Have a blessed and Merry Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year!


In our world of instant technology, we are fortunate to have many ways to stay in touch with the outside world: internet, telephones, cell phones, to name a few.  These are basic lifelines: we can call for help, report accidents, and access just about any kind of assistance that is needed and expect a speedy response.  The word “lifeline” has many definitions, one of them being “a line or rope for saving a life.”  We think of this type of line being thrown out of a boat, but another definition is “route or means of transportation or communication for receiving or delivering food, medicine, or assistance at a critical time.”

Persons who may need some type of medical alert device include those who are alone, elderly, disabled, or suffer from physical or emotional illness and depend on medical assistance in emergencies.  Medical alert systems restore confidence to those who desire to live alone and independently while offering their families the assurance that their medical needs will be met at all times.  Children who suffer from diabetes or epilepsy also benefit from these devices.

There are numerous types of warning systems that can be purchased or rented, or in some cases, furnished by county organizations, if the person qualifies.  Here are a few:

  • Medictag.  These usually come in the shape of jewelry, but furnish information of their medical condition.  Some have buttons built into them to call emergency services if needed.  Each individual’s needs help determine the precise functions that should be included in the device.
  • Medical Panic Button.  This can be placed in the home and even children can learn how to use it.  Some medical alert bracelets have the button alarm system on it.  The built-in button system also has a GPS tracking system, so it allows children or adults to carry on their day in a normal way, yet feel protected.
  • Bracelets, necklaces, watches.  Yes, all types of jewelry have the capability of saving someone’s life because that alarm system is manufactured inside.  That allows the person to look and feel just like everyone else, but they also know that their lives are in the hands of professionals that will answer the call.

Another “lifeline” we want to mention, are trained service dogs.  These furry animals are indeed “man’s best friends” in many ways.  Some are trained to sense disease and predict seizures.  They are able to detect certain cancers through the person’s breath.  Others sense body chemistry changes in their masters, and can warn them before a seizure happens.  They will bark for help, circle the person, remove dangerous objects to keep them from harming themselves and lie next to them to protect them.  They serve the blind, hearing impaired, emotionally disturbed, and even provide walking balance for those with movement disorders.  Our four-legged friends do all this while also providing comforting, lasting companionship.

If you or someone you know and love needs to make a decision regarding some type of medical assistance, be sure to do your research.  Most times your health professional can recommend the proper type of equipment that is needed.  Be sure it is a from a reputable company, as it truly may be your loved one’s “lifeline!”


It’s almost Christmas, and I can already think of a million things I need to be doing!  Planning and shopping for a large meal requires time.  Stress can be a good thing- it can enhance your productivity.  But too much stress can create physical and emotional problems.  So it’s best if we can adopt these habits:

1.    Exercise regularly. Aim for 30 minutes every day.

2.    Eat right.  Protein-containing foods and those that contain Vitamins A, B, and C protect us from stress.

3.    Develop a positive attitude.

4.    Manage time efficiently.

5.    Warn your family when you are feeling especially tense; if they are causing the pressure, it will help them to understand how you are feeling and hopefully calm things down.

6.    Talk things out; don’t hold feelings in.

7.    Understand that every crisis gives you an occasion to grow and learn.

8.    Get sufficient sleep.

9.    Have a support network of people you can count on for help.

10.    Stretch away tension; there are stretching exercises that can even be done at your desk.

11.    Give yourself a break – time alone to calm down, even 20-30 minutes, may be enough to help you focus on taking the proper time to concentrate on tasks at hand.

12.    Relax……take three or four deep breaths and relax all of your muscles as much as possible.

The greatest gift we give ourselves is the satisfaction that we have done a job well.  If we cope with every day stress by using these tips, we will also cope with added tension as we prepare for the holidays.  Too many times we are trying so hard to carry out every little detail to perfection, whether it’s preparing the meal, the house, or trying to remember what we’re afraid we’ll forget, that we don’t slow down to enjoy the whole purpose of the celebration:  friends and family coming to our home to celebrate the holiday.

So, chill out – if you can do: #3, #4, #5 and #11 successfully, you will have the best holiday ever!  And, after enjoying a wonderful meal, you’ll be able to do #8 quite well.
Merry Christmas!


Candles sales in the United States amount to an estimated $2 billion annually.  This doesn’t include the accessories that go with them.  Candles are found in 7 out of 10 households.  Did you know that more than one billion pounds of wax are used each year to produce candles in America?  Thirty-five per cent of annual sales of candles are during the Christmas holiday.  The glow of candles gives a beautiful ambiance to any room in the house.  However, fires from candles can bring about serious damage and risks to all.

One-half of home candle fires start because they have been placed too close to combustible material.  The majority of candle fires are because of human error and negligence.  There are more than 15,000 residential fires in the U.S. annually that are caused by careless use of candles.  Candles left burning in the bedroom are where the majority of fires begin.  According to the U.S. Fire Administration, the hours between Midnight and 6 a.m. account for one-half of all deaths resulting from candle fires.

A common-sense approach to the use of candles in your home is the best.  With that in mind, here are some tips:

  • Each time you burn candles, trim the wicks ¼” before you burn them.
  • Never leave burning candles unattended; keep them within your sight.
  • Don’t burn them all the way down.
  • Keep candles away from children or pets.
  • Always use candleholders.
  • Place them in a well-ventilated room, and on a stable surface.
  • Avoid vents, drafts, and air currents.
  • When putting the candle out, be sure it is completely out.

One last grim reminder:  December is the peak month for fires that are started by candles.

The top five most dangerous days for fires from candles are, in order:

(1) Christmas Day,

(2) Christmas Eve,

3) New Year’s Day,

(4) New Year’s Eve, and

(5) Halloween.

There’s nothing more beautiful than candles to give your home that perfect atmosphere.  They also present fragrance to the environment, which adds to a festive mood.  We certainly don’t want to rain on your holiday parade, and encourage you to decorate anytime with your favorite types of candles.  Just exercise the same caution that you would with any open flame.

U.S. Fire Administration
National Candle Association


The month of December is a very significant time in the lives of many families.  It is a time of celebration and setting aside time for family get-togethers and parties with friends and co-workers.  Often we get caught up in the moment and do a little too much celebrating, either by consuming too much food, or alcohol.

December is National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month.  The National Highway Transportation Administration reports that in 2008, 11,773 persons died in drunk driving crashes.  Those drivers with a Blood Alcohol Content of .08 or greater were involved.  This accounts for 31% (or almost 1/3rd of the 37,261 total traffic fatalities in 2008.)  The fatality rate was down 9.7% from 2007.  Factors contributing to this statistic were slow economy, strong law enforcement, the campaign to eliminate drunk driving, enforcing seat belt use, safer highways and safer vehicles.   Hopefully, the 2009 statistics will continue to drop.

M.A.D.D. (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) want to raise consciousness about the consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, through their “Tie One On For Safety” public awareness campaign.  Red ribbons to tie on your antennae or a theme window decal are available by contacting your M.A.D.D. affiliates.  You will be pledging to drive safe, sober, and buckled up during the holidays and coming year by displaying the red ribbon or decal.  Law enforcement agencies across the U.S. will increase their drunk drivers tactics during the holiday season with crackdowns including saturation patrols and sobriety checkpoints.

Don’t be a headliner in your local newspaper this holiday season, or any time.  Here’s a sample of some pretty dumb acts:

  • Both Mom and Dad in Indiana were recently arrested, both for DUI.    Driving separate cars, they had children in each car at the time of their arrest.
  • A woman in California had decided her 13-year old son could be her designated driver!
  • A Minnesota couple were arrested for drunk driving and placed in jail.  There were 7 unbuckled children in the back seat of the car.

It seems there’s been an increase in women that have caused devastating accidents, while driving intoxicated or under the influence of drugs, with innocent children as their passengers.  Although there have been more moms involved, men still outpace women 4 to 1 for Driving Under the Influence.

M.A.D.D. suggests you do these four things to ensure a safe and sane holiday party:
1.    Designate a sober driver.

2.    Plan safe parties.

3.    Never serve alcohol to anyone under age 21.

4.    Be sure to get everyone home safe in case the plans or circumstances change.

Remember, there are innocent parties on the streets and highways.  They aren’t planning for a drunk driver or someone under the influence of drugs to mess up their holiday plans, or their lives, for that matter.  You don’t want to spend your holidays in jail or a hospital.  Think about this:  you want to have fun at a party, but what happens after the party not only affects you, but others you meet on the road.  Celebrate safely.



From the very beginning of the H1N1 pandemic, experts have given specific ways to avoid becoming sick with this virus.  Of course, hopes are always placed that the vaccine will be the principal way to stay well.  Although it is an important piece of the prevention puzzle, personal accountability is a critical part of it, as well.

As we know, hand hygiene is the best way to safeguard against illness.  Responsible persons in schools, homes, and industrial sectors understand the importance of preventing the spread of disease.  Being conscious of the surfaces and the contaminants on them is one of the best things we can do. (Please see our article, Germ City, U.S.A.).  Remember to wash you hands often, or use hand sanitizer.  It’s hard to do, but we should never touch our nose, eyes, or mouth with our hands.  It is best to use a clean tissue.

Thousands of patients die in hospitals annually from nosocomial infections, which are acquired while being treated in the hospital.  These infections can be preventable when closer attention to hand hygiene and infection control guidelines are met by hospitals.  Hospitals and nursing homes should have responsible hand washing etiquette and good cross contamination awareness programs.  Patients should never hesitate to ask their nurse or caregiver to wash their hands, if they feel it is necessary.

Foodborne illness is another way that we can become ill because of lack of hand cleanliness. (Have you ever watched someone prepare food, i.e., pizza, without gloves, and then handle money?) According to the Centers for Disease Control, an estimated 76 million persons contact foodborne illness yearly.  Eighty percent of the illnesses come from commercial or institutionally prepared foods; the other 20% from foods prepared in the home.  Hands should be washed very frequently while preparing food.  Two magnets for bacteria in the kitchen are the dishrag or sponge, and cutting boards.

Keeping yourself healthy during this winter is in your hands.  From hand hygiene to getting the vaccine, you must also stay out of crowds when at all possible, pay attention to things you are touching/sharing, eat healthy, and get enough exercise.


By now, everyone has seen the massive stadium in Arlington, Texas, that is home to the Dallas Cowboys.  On December 3, two men who were working at the top of the stadium fell 50’ to 75’on the roof of that building.  They had stepped out from the retractable roof, and after discovering the icy surface, they slid down to a roof gutter.  One of the injured persons called for help on his cell phone.  If the gutter had not been there, they would have fallen more than 200 more feet, and the end of the story would probably have been much worse.

The bad part of the story is, from all accounts, they were not wearing safety harnesses, according to numerous news media accounts.  On a later report, a harness was shown that they claimed to be wearing; however, it was not hooked to anything!  If you take a look at that building, how could anyone step out on top of that thing without safety equipment?

OSHA immediately began an investigation, which could take several months.

The Arlington Fire and Rescue team got the workers down.  After taking about 30 minutes to reach the injured men, twelve to fifteen firefighters worked their way down with ropes, baskets and ladders, accomplishing the feat in around 90 minutes.  One man was taken by air rescue to a hospital, and the other transferred to a hospital by ambulance.  Their injuries were serious, but not life-threatening.  Thank goodness for this rescue team, which has been preparing for such a rescue since construction began on the $1.2 billion stadium.

There will probably be much more information disclosed once the investigation is complete.  In the meantime, it is very inappropriate for companies to not have adequately trained workers that risk their lives to do very treacherous jobs.  Standing on top of a football stadium that is more than 300’ to the ground would require the very best personal protective equipment, (i.e., harnesses, lanyards) to safeguard human lives.  It will be interesting to see what facts come out.

Again, every time we see an accident, we need to realize that without our rapid response teams, we would be in deep trouble.  They risk their lives to get us out of some pretty good pickles!


The Thanksgiving holiday ushered in the busiest time of travel of the year.  Persons who plan to travel either by train, plane, or bus, should consider the extra measures of precaution they should take before purchasing their tickets.  Sitting side by side and standing elbow to elbow in lines, may not be the healthiest thing we can do to avoid the H1N1 influenza strain, or other “bugs” for that matter.

Just as things are beginning to slow down in regard to the H1N1 flu, such as school closings, there will be more and more people going from place to place to visit family during this special season.  It gives germs the opportunities to jump from place to place, as well, therefore exposing everyone.  The federal government is posting notices in airports, seaports and border crossings to remind travelers to “Stop, Wash & Go”.

Dr. Beth Bell, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reminds persons to be aware of the things they can do to stay healthy.  For those who must travel and be exposed to coughs and sneezes, the best suggestion is to take both the seasonal and H1N1 flu shots, wash hands often, cover coughs and sneezes.

If you aren’t feeling quite up to par, don’t go out and be exposed to possible flu or other bugs; and also, don’t expose others.  Shopping malls will be full of hundreds of persons.  Many people are able to do their shopping online, which helps them avoid exposure to winter illnesses.  If you do go out, you might consider wearing a respirator, as it filters out particles floating in the air.

Dr. Bell says the CDC has no idea what the trajectory of the influenza will be; a variety of different things could happen, including a third wave of it, or a mutation that could make the virus more deadly or less susceptible to medicines.  You have lots of time to be prepared before you board that plane, train, or bus.  Stock up on hand sanitizer, tissues, and other items you will need to keep your hands clean and your face covered if you cough or sneeze.
We hope you will have a healthy holiday season!