Tag Archives: worker safety

Portable Fire Extinguishers – Not Only Essential But OSHA Required On-Site

But Don’t Get Burned – Learn How to Properly Identify & Correctly Use Portable Fire Extinguishers

If a fire ever breaks out on a jobsite your first instinct may be to grab the nearest fire extinguisher to try to put it out. BUT before you do you should know the answers to the following questions.  Not knowing these answers and trying to put the fire out yourself could potentially lead to extensive property damage, personal injury, or even death.

  • Is the fire to large to control with a portable fire extinguisher?
  • Is the fire extinguisher the right type & size for the fire at hand?
  • Do you know the correct sequence of steps to properly use a portable fire extinguisher?

The first thing you must understand about using portable fire extinguishers is they are not intended to be used to put out large fires. They are intended for incipient stage fires only – initial or beginning stage, incipient fires can be handled with a portable fire extinguisher & you have no need for personal protection equipment. If you ever come across a large uncontrollable fire or you do not feel comfortable putting the fire out yourself, be sure to immediately evacuate the area and alert others of the fire.

From proper selection of, understanding the classes and safe use of each class, to knowing the basics on how to properly use an extinguisher using the PASS method. Be sure to read through so you know how to plan and act should you ever find yourself in the company of a fire.

Proper Selection

Before using a fire extinguisher it is important to know what the type(s) of fire the extinguisher is rated for. Some fire extinguishers are only rated for a single type of fire (Class A, Class B, or Class D), but most fire extinguishers are rated for a combination of fires (Class AB, Class BC, Class ABC). Due to these differences it is important to always check the labels on the fire extinguishers before using. It is important to check the size of the fire extinguisher as well to know how long the extinguisher will last before being emptied. Typically small sized extinguishers (5 ABC) will only last 6 – 10 seconds, while larger sized extinguishers (20 ABC) will last around 25 – 35 seconds before being emptied.

Identifying the Correct Fire Extinguisher to Use

Class A Rated

Class A Rated Fire Extinguishers are intended for use on ordinary combustibles: wood, paper, cardboard, dry vegetation, & some plastics. Class A fire extinguishers often contain water so be sure NOT to use on flammable liquid fires or electrical fires.

Class B Ratedfire-extinguisher-ratings

Class B Rated Fire Extinguishers are intended for use on flammable liquids: fuels, paint thinners, solvents, oil, & grease. These CO2 extinguishers displace oxygen so the fire can not continue to burn, but these extinguishers can also displace the oxygen in a small enclosed place, so ONLY use in a well ventilated areas. Also the horn shaped nozzle can become extremely cold, cold enough to cause frostbite, so be extremely careful when using a Class B Fire Extinguisher.

Class C Rated

Class C Rated Fire Extinguishers are intended for use on fires near or involving electrically energized equipment. This designation is typically seen on combination type fire extinguishers, that are suitable on other types of fires as well.

Class D Rated

Class D Rated Fire Extinguishers are intended to be used on fires involving combustible metals that actually burn, such as: magnesium, sodium, & potassium.

Class K Rated

Class K Rated Fire Extinguishers, the newest type on the market, are specialty extinguishers that are intended to be used on kitchen / deep fryer fires: animal oils, fats, & vegetable oils.

Effectively Use a Fire Extinguisher with the PASS Method

It’s important to use a fire extinguisher rated for the type of fire you’re dealing with, but its just as important to know how to properly use the fire extinguisher. There are (4) basic step to properly use a portable fire extinguisher. However people often panic when seeing a fire and forget what to do. To help remember the (4) basic steps of using a fire extinguisher, just remember P A S S.

  • P. Pull the pin out of the handle pass
  • A. Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire
  • S. Squeeze the handle to discharge the fire extinguisher
  • S. Sweep from side to side to help cover all the burning material

Do’s & Don’ts

  • Maintain a safe escape path
  • Retreat immediately if conditions get out of control
  • Watch for flare-ups afterwards
  • Beware of slippery floors
  • Watch for unstable structures and objects
  • Recharge ALL used extinguishers

OSHA Regulations

In closing, proper fire extinguisher use isn’t just something that’s good to plan for, but necessary to keep employers and employees safe. It is also both required and regulated by OSHA and as such should become part of your OSHA safety plan at work.

While there are many standards for a variety of industries regulated by OSHA, the primary regulations for construction and general industry are found in two sections that we think would be beneficial to leave you with.


The employer shall be responsible for the development of a fire protection program to be followed throughout all phases of the construction and demolition work, and he shall provide for the firefighting equipment as specified in this subpart. As fire hazards occur, there shall be no delay in providing the necessary equipment.


Where the employer has provided portable fire extinguishers for employee use in the workplace, the employer shall also provide an educational program to familiarize employees with the general principles of fire extinguisher use and the hazards involved with incipient stage fire fighting.” Hands on experience using actual fires in a controlled environment is not required in your particular case.

Stay Warm and Combat Cold Stress

Employers Helping to Prevent Cold Stress

OSHA does not have a specific set of standards in regards to working in cold environments. BUT employers have the responsibility to provide their workers with a place of employment that is free of recognized hazards, including cold stress, which can cause death or serious injury as per (Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970).

Warm Drink Worker

According to OSHA employers should train their workers on the hazards of the job and train them on the correct safety measures to help protect the workers’ safety and health. Some of the guidelines OSHA expects employers to follow include: Employers should train workers on how to recognize cold stress illness & injuries and how to apply first aid treatment. Worker should be trained on the appropriate engineering control, personal protective equipment, and work practices to reduce the risks of cold stress. Employers should provide engineering controls, such as radiant heaters and work areas that are shielded from drafts and/or wind. Employers should use safe work practices to help prevent illness & injuries caused by cold weather. Dehydration is still a risk factor in cold weather, warm sweetened liquids should be provided to workers to keep them warm and hydrated. If possible heavy work should be scheduled in the warmest part of the day. Breaks should be offered to workers in warm areas. Safety measures like these should be incorporated into relevant health and safety plans for the workplace.

Always Dress Appropriately for the Weather

Safety Tips for Workers in Cold Environments

  • Your employer should ensure that you know the symptoms of cold stress.
  • Monitor your physical condition and that of your coworkers.
  • Dress properly for the cold.
  • Stay dry in the cold because moisture or dampness, e.g. from sweating, can increase the rate of heat loss from the body.
  • Keep extra clothing (including underwear) handy in case you get wet and need to change.
  • Drink warm sweetened fluids (no alcohol).
  • Use proper engineering controls, safe work practices, and personal protective equipment (PPE) provided by your employer.

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Risks Factors of Working in a Cold Environment

Warning to Outdoor Workers!Cold Stress

If your job requires you to work outdoors in cold environments, you may be at the risk of cold stress. Cold stress can be encountered in a number of different work environments if the proper steps are not taken to prevent it. Read on to learn more about the dangers OSHA warns workers about cold stress and how it can affect your health & safety, as well as steps you can take to prevent cold stress.

Is it Too Cold?

Weather described as “Extreme Cold” can vary across different areas of the country. But in every case, even areas exposed to cold weather for most of the year, workers must take the proper steps to acclimate and combat the cold. Cold temperatures forces the body to work harder to keep itself warm. When wind is thrown into the mix, Wind Chill is another factor workers must take into consideration while working in cold environments. Wind Chill is a combination of air temperature and wind speed, if the air temperature is 40°F and the wind speed is 35 mph, the exposed skin on your body will feel the effects as if the temperature was 28°F.

Cold Stress Group

Cold stress begins to occur when the skin temperature drops and the internal core body temperature begins to go below normal levels. Cold stress can lead to serious health problem, tissue damage, and even death in certain situations. When your body is exposed to cold environments, the body will begin to shift blood flow from the extremities (hands, feet, arms & legs) and the outer skin to the core (chest & abdomen). Once this shifts begins to occur, the exposed skin and extremities will begin to cool rapidly and increase the risk of frostbite and hypothermia. If  you work in wet environments, trench foot is a possible looming problem you will have to look out for.

Risk Factors Contributing to Cold Stress According to OSHA
Cold Stress Surveyor

  • Wetness/dampness, dressing improperly, and exhaustion
  • Predisposing health conditions such as hypertension, hypothyroidism, and diabetes
  • Poor physical conditioning

Most Common Cold Induced Illnesses & Injuries

Hypothermia – When the normal body temperature 98.6°F, drops below 95°F and body heat is lost faster than it can be replaced. Typically hypothermia occurs in Extreme Cold temperature, but hypothermia can also occur at cool temperatures (above 40°F) when a person is chilled from rain, sweat, or submersed in cold water.

Frostbite – As the temperature drops, frostbite can occur and cause an injury to the body that is caused by freezing of the skin and underlying tissues. Frostbite is most likely to affect the exterminates, particularly feet & hands. In severe cases, amputation my be required.

Trench Foot – As refereed to immersion foot, is cause by prolonged exposure to cold and wet environments. Trench foot can occur in both cool and cold conditions. Non-freezing injuries can occur at temperatures as high as 60°F because wet feet lose heat 25X faster than dry feet. The body tries to prevent heat loss by constricting the blood vessels, shutting down circulation to the feet. When this happens, skin tissue begins to die due to the lack of oxygen & nutrients and the buildup of toxic products.

Combating Cold Stress

Check back soon for our next blog post about the proper steps to combat cold stress while working in cold environments.

Stay Informed and Help Prevent these Common Winter Safety Hazards on the Jobsite

The winter months bring frigid cold, snowy weather, and dangerous ice. All of these factors can make working on a construction project and other outside jobsites a dangerous place. We all know the inherent dangers of slips and falls, but there are many more factors and hazards to consider while working in these extreme conditions. The best way to avoid these dangers is to brush up on your knowledge of winter hazards and to take the correct safety precautions while on the jobsite. In the following article, we will talk about common dangers and safety hazards you may encounter on the jobsite, as well as precautions and steps to take to keep you and your fellow worker safe this winter.

Cold Weather Gloves and Headwear

One of the most common dangers associated with winter and cold is frostbite. Frostbite is far more dangerous than most people understand, it can lead to permanent skin damage and even the loss of limbs and appendages in extreme conditions. Frostbite is the destruction of tissue caused by exposure to extreme cold, humidity and wind are also two key factors in the probability of developing frostbite. The first signs of frostbite are small patches of white on the skin where the underlying moisture has already begun to freeze. To prevent further damage, you need to move to a warmer area and allow the damaged skin to gradually return to its normal temperature. It is crucial that you do not rub frostbitten skin, put a hot compress on the affected area, or run warm water on it, this can actually worsen the damage. If at any point you can no longer feel your finger or toes, you need to seek immediate medical attention. Covering exposed skin and dressing in layers is the best way to avoid becoming frostbitten.

Ice Traction Soles, Thermal Bib, and Thermal Insoles

Another danger that is prevalent on jobsites during the wintertime is icy work surfaces. Just like how bridges freeze quicker than the roads leading up to them, scaffolds, ladders, and similar surfaces will accumulate ice well before ground surfaces. This is because they are elevated and open, allowing cold air to circulate around them. The best action to take against these dangers is to periodically inspect these surfaces and remove the ice when it begins to accumulate. Icicles are another form of an icy hazard commonly found on jobsites during the winter. These inert ice forms can break off at any point and become an extremely dangerous falling hazard. Icicles need to carefully be removed, especially if the temperatures are beginning to warm. If icicles can not be removed, the area under the icicles needs to be roped off until they are no longer a safety hazard.

Hi-Visibility Clothes and Headwear

A danger that most people would not think of during the wintertime is dehydration. Dehydration is most commonly recognized as a summertime problem, but it can still be just as dangerous even on the coldest days. All the extra layers of clothing workers wear to stay warm can actually lead to dehydration. The extra layers of clothing hold in the body heat, and in turn, cause the body to perspire to cool off. Those workers who fail to replenish fluids throughout the day are prone to dehydration. The symptoms of dehydration are perspiration, fatigue, and dizziness followed up by severe cramping. To prevent dehydration adequate amounts of drinking water need to be present on the jobsite. Drinking warm beverages and sports drinks are also encouraged.

Here at Tanner, we want to be sure you and your fellow workers are all well prepared for these cold winter months. We have a number of safety and personal protection products to keep you safe and warm this winter including Hi-Visibility Apparel, Cold Weather Gloves, Winter Liners & Headwear, Thermal Bids, Thermal Insoles, and Ice Traction Soles. From everyone at Tanner, we hope that you stay safe, stay warm, and stay informed this winter.