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Heat Stress

July Safety Tip


Many people are exposed to heat on the job, outdoors or in hot indoor environments. Operations involving high air temperatures, radiant heat sources, high humidity, direct physical contact with hot objects, or strenuous physical activities have a high potential for causing heat-related illness. Workplaces with these conditions may include iron and steel foundries, nonferrous foundries, brick-firing and ceramic plants, glass products facilities, rubber products factories, electrical utilities (particularly boiler rooms), bakeries, confectioneries, commercial kitchens, laundries, food canneries, chemical plants, mining sites, smelters, and steam tunnels.

What is Heat Stress?

Your body is constantly working to maintain a normal body temperature but environmental conditions can overwhelm your body’s regulating abilities.

Signs and Symptoms of Heat Disorders

Heat rash is very common; sometimes it’s just moderate discomfort.  Heat cramps can be painful muscle spasms caused by lack of salt in the body.  Heavy sweating will cause this to happen.  Heat exhaustion can cause some of the following: fainting or dizziness, nausea or vomiting, weak, rapid pulse, pale or flushed face, muscle cramps, headache, no longer sweating, etc.  Heat stroke is the most serious problem and very dangerous.  Heat stroke will be incredibly hot skin, hot to the touch with internal body temperature of 105 degrees or higher.

Treatment for Disorders

For heat cramps ease up on your work pace.  Drink plenty of fluids and possibly a drink with salt/potassium in it such as Gatorade.  For heat exhaustion move the person to a cool environment and encourage them to drink plenty of fluids.  Consider using cold compresses if exhaustion continues.  For heat stroke call 911 immediately, medical attentions is needed.  Heat stroke is very serious and even cold compresses will not stop the problem from getting worse.

More Information and Details:  See the June 2017 Risk Reminder.

Every year, thousands of workers become sick from occupational heat exposure, and some even die. These illnesses and deaths are preventable.

Acclimatization is adaptation of the body’s system to heat.

When a person works in a hot environment, the body must get rid of excess heat to maintain a stable internal temperature. It does this mainly through circulating blood to the skin and through sweating.

How can heat-related illness be prevented?

Heat-related illnesses can be prevented. Important ways to reduce heat exposure and the risk of heat-related illness include engineering controls, such as air conditioning and ventilation, that make the work environment cooler, and work practices such as work/rest cycles, drinking water often, and providing an opportunity for workers to build up a level of tolerance to working in the heat. Employers should include these prevention steps in worksite training and plans. Also, it’s important to know and look out for the symptoms of heat-related illness in yourself and others during hot weather. Plan for an emergency and know what to do — acting quickly can save lives!

Hand and Portable Power Tools

June Safety Tip


Employees can avoid injuries and fatalities by using hand, power and powder-actuated tools properly.  This includes using properly adjusted guards on grinders, grinding wheels rated for the grinder’s speed, and tools equipped with protection from rotating parts.

OSHA requires that employers maintain all tools in the workplace in a safe condition, including those furnished by employees.  Employers must also perform regular maintenance in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications.  It is a good practice to add these tools to your preventive maintenance schedule.

Using Hand Tools

  • Use the right tool for the job.
  • Don’t use wrenches when jaws are sprung to the point that slippage occurs.
  • Make sure impact tools do not have mushroomed heads.
  • Keep tools’ wooden handles free of splinters and cracks and don’t use tools with loose handles. (Duct tape is not the solution)

Using Power Tools

Electric Tools

  • Only use electric tools that are double-insulated indicated by this symbol on the label or grounded with a grounding plug.
  • Never use the cord for hoisting or lowering.
  • Replace the cord if insulation is damaged, don’t tape over it.

Pneumatic Tools

  • Secure all pneumatic tools to the air supply hose or whip to prevent disconnecting.
  • Never carry tools by the hose.
  • Use clips or retainers to secure all attachments used on pneumatic tools.
  • Never use compressed air above 30 psi for cleaning purposes – and then, only with effective chip guarding and personal protective equipment.

Hydraulic Tools

  • Use only fire-resistant fluids in hydraulic tools.
  • Follow all manufacturer’s operating procedures.

Abrasive Wheel Tools

  • Make sure proper guards are in place and correctly adjusted. Adjust tool work rests so that the maximum clearance between the rest and the wheel does not exceed 1/8 inch.
  • Wear the correct eye protection for the job; a faceshield over safety glasses is recommended.
  • Make sure the wheel is rated for the speed of the motor.
  • Inspect wheels for defects using the ring test.

Portable Fans

May Safety Tip


As the summer season comes upon us, let’s look at fans and fan safety. Fans help move the air around us and help keep us cooler. However, there are some important safety items we need to look at as the summer approaches.

Today as you are around your machine, look at each of the fans located by your machine

Is the guard in place?
Fans that are less than 7 feet off the ground must have a guard on them to prevent injury. The opening needs to be ½” or less. Look at your fans. Ensure the guards are in place and secure. Several years ago, we had an injury where an employee jumped up to adjust a fan and the guard came loose and they hit the blades.

Is the fan clean?
Fan blades that are clean and free of dust and dirt build-up move more air than a dirty blade and will keep you cooler. Take a moment and blow out your fans today and get as much of the dust and dirt off the blades and guarding.

Is the plug in good condition?
Check the plug and cord and make sure all the electrical prongs are in place and the cord isn’t frayed. Make sure the motor cover is in place securely.

Is it grounded?

Do not use household fans with a two-prong plug as they are not allowed in work sites.  Make sure your fans are industrial, and have a ground pin in the plug.

If you find a problem with a fan in your area, report it as soon as possible. Let’s get these taken care of early in the season rather than waiting until it gets extremely hot.





Abrasive Wheel Grinders

April Safety Tip


One of the most common and useful tools used both at work and at home is the bench or pedestal grinder. Everyone should be reminded never to take this tool for granted. People have been killed and hundreds seriously injured when a cracked or defective grinding wheel has “exploded.”

In addition to a visual inspection of grinding wheels, a “ring test” must be performed. OSHA says that you must “ring-test” grinding wheels before mounting them to prevent the inadvertent mounting of a cracked grinding wheel.   A disintegrating wheel can cause solid wheel fragments to fly off at speeds exceeding 125 miles an hour. This is capable of causing serious injury or even death. The ring test helps identify defective grinding wheels.

A ring test is conducted by tapping the wheel gently with a light, nonmetallic implement, such as the handle of a screwdriver for light wheels or a wooden mallet for heavier wheels. The wheels should be “tapped” about 45 degrees on each side of the vertical centerline, and about 1or 2 inches from the outer edge of the wheel. Rotate the wheel 45-degrees and repeat the test. An undamaged wheel will give a clear metallic tone. If it is cracked, there will be a hollow, “dead” sound and you will not hear a clear “ring.” In this case do not use the wheel!

Wheels must be dry and free from sawdust when conducting the ring test, otherwise the sound will be deadened. It should also be noted that organic bonded wheels do not emit the same clear metallic ring as do vitrified and silicate wheels.

Always wear your personal protective equipment, adjust the equipment guards properly and work safely while using abrasive wheel grinders. Yet these steps will offer little protection if the abrasive wheel itself is not in good condition. After heavy use and whenever changing the wheel, conduct the ring test. This is an important step that will minimize your exposure to serious injury.

For larger grinders, grinding wheels are laid flat on a vibration-table, with sand evenly spread over the wheel. If the wheel is cracked, the sand moves away from the crack.

To prevent cracking a wheel during the mounting procedure, employees must be very carefully trained in those procedures. This starts with making sure the wheel is properly matched to that particular grinder, using proper blotters and spacers, and knowing exactly how much pressure to exert with a torque-wrench.






Good Housekeeping

March Safety Tip

Housekeeping & Hazards

Housekeeping in a work setting is crucial to safe workplaces. It can help prevent injuries and improve productivity and morale, as well as make a good first impression on visitors.  It also can help a company avoid potential fines for non-compliance.

The practice extends in every setting and experts agree that all workplace safety programs should incorporate housekeeping, and every worker should play a part. Here are tips for effective workplace housekeeping.

Prevent slips, trips and falls
Slips, trips and falls were the second leading cause of nonfatal occupational injuries or illnesses involving days away from work.  OSHA’s Walking-Working Surfaces Standard (1910.22(a)) states that all workplaces should be “kept clean and orderly and in a sanitary condition.” The rule includes passageways, storerooms and service rooms. Floors should be clean and dry. Drainage should be present where “wet processes are used.”

Develop and implement housekeeping procedures using appropriate cleaners especially areas with oils and grease.  The wrong kind of cleaning protocol will spread the slipperiness around rather than getting it up and off the floor.

Tips to help prevent slip, trip and fall incidents:

  • Report and clean up spills and leaks.
  • Keep aisles and exits clear of items.
  • Consider installing mirrors and warning signs to help with blind spots.
  • Replace worn, ripped or damage flooring.
  • Consider installing anti-slip flooring in areas that can’t always be cleaned.
  • Use drip pans and guards.

In addition, provide mats, platforms, false floors or “other dry standing places” where useful, according to OSHA. Every workplace should be free of projecting nails, splinters, holes and loose boards.

Employers should audit for trip hazards, and encourage workers to focus on the task at hand.

Eliminate fire hazards
Employees are responsible for keeping unnecessary combustible materials from accumulating in the work area. Combustible waste should be “stored in covered metal receptacles and disposed of daily,” according to OSHA’s Hazardous Materials Standard (1910.106).

Here are precautionary measures for fire safety from the National Safety Council:

  • Keep combustible materials in the work area only in amounts needed for the job. When they are unneeded, move them to an assigned safe storage area.
  • Store quick-burning, flammable materials in designated locations away from ignition sources.
  • Avoid contaminating clothes with flammable liquids. Change clothes if contamination occurs.
  • Keep passageways and fire doors free of obstructions. Stairwell doors should be kept closed. Do not store items in stairwells.
  • Keep materials at least 18 inches away from automatic sprinklers, fire extinguishers and sprinkler controls. The 18-inch distance is required, but 24 to 36 inches is recommended. Clearance of 3 feet is required between piled material and the ceiling. If stock is piled more than 15 feet high, clearance should be doubled. Check applicable codes, including Life Safety Code, ANSI/NFPA 101-2009.
  • Hazards in electrical areas should be reported, and work orders should be issued to fix them.

Prevent falling objects
Protections such as a toe board, toe rail or net can help prevent objects from falling and hitting workers or equipment.

  • Stack boxes and materials straight up and down to keep them from falling.
  • Place heavy objects on lower shelves, and keep equipment away from the edges of desks and tables.
  • Refrain from stacking objects in areas where workers walk, including aisles.
  • Keep layout in mind so workers are not exposed to hazards as they walk through areas.

Determine frequency
All workers should participate in housekeeping, especially in terms of keeping their own work areas tidy, reporting safety hazards and cleaning up spills, if possible.

  • Every worker has a role in housekeeping. If they see something is becoming a problem, they need to report it.
  • Before the end of a shift, workers should inspect and clean their workspaces and remove unused materials. This dedication can reduce time spent cleaning later, experts say.
  • How much debris or contaminants the workplace releases can help determine the frequency of housekeeping. A company should have a mixture of deep cleaning and more frequent, lighter cleaning that involves sweeping and responding to spills, Norton said.

For more tips on keeping a safe workplace, see the resources in the member’s section in www.wcti.info or contact your WCTI Loss Control Consultant.


February Safety Tip

How to Properly Store a Stack of Empty Pallets

Stacking Pallets Can Be a Hazard – Learn How to Do it Safely!

Most distribution and many manufacturing operations must deal with empty pallets – sometimes it’s a lot of pallets.

They take space you could use for something else and clutter receiving areas. Sometimes they  have splinters or nails protruding from the sides.  Pallets are often reused and stored for a period of time until needed for an outbound shipment. But while they’re in your facility, they can eat space, potentially injure people, and generally present some risks.

 Never Stack Pallets on Their Sides

 Why would you ever stack empty pallets vertically? They don’t take up any more space than pallets stacked the right way.

But people wedge a couple of vertical pallets between stacks of horizontally stacked ones to get them out of the way.  Or they’ll lean them against a building column or the side of a rack upright. The problem? They’ve just set a trap that can injure someone. When the stacks start being pulled, those vertical pallets – sometimes with nails, sometimes with splinters, always heavy enough to injure – are in danger of tipping over.

This can result in serious injuries.

While there is no specific OSHA standard pertaining directly to vertical pallet stacking, inspectors can and do cite companies who engage in it. It may fall under OSHA 1926.25(a), under housekeeping. If a practice creates a potential safety hazard the rule can be applied to any operation.  It’s a generally acknowledged safety problem with an easily rectified situation.

Make it a company policy that pallets must never stack on their sides, and never leaned against anything. The safe way is flat on the bottom, every time.

 Never Stack Pallets Too High

According to OSHA standard 1917.14, “Cargo, pallets and other material stored in tiers shall be stacked in such a manner as to provide stability against sliding and collapse.”

This covers a lot of ground, including the way they are stacked (haphazardly, in mixed sizes, etc.). But the main focus here should be on height.  How high is too high? According to OSHA, for a freestanding stack, that comes to 15 feet. Even that can be too high in a busy traffic lane. When a standard GMA pallet is 48″ x 40″, and has a height (which varies) of 5″ to 7″ from floor to top of deck, this means 20-25 empty pallets in a stack. Each pallet can weigh 55 pounds, so by regulation, you could have an unsecured stack that weighs up to 1,375 pounds.

Generally a more modest six foot stack is preferred and works better if the pallets are handled manually. It’s also recommended that pallet stacks higher than six feet should be protected by automated sprinkler systems (per National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems.).

 Never Stack Pallets Crookedly, or in Varying Sizes

 Poor pallet stacking could be characterized as the world’s most dangerous Jenga game; if your pallets are in poor condition, if they aren’t uniform in size, and if they are stacked haphazardly, they can tumble or break. At 55 pounds a pallet, that’s an injury waiting to happen, even if the pallets are in great condition.

The point: stack pallets in very straight stacks, and stay at relatively low heights. It’s better to eat a bit of floor space than it is to create a safety hazard. You can also use pallet stacking frames or stacking racks to help stabilize them.

Pallet stacks should be separated by at least eight feet, and should be separated from general inventory by 25 feet.

One way to deal with a mass of pallets without covering your staging areas in stacks is to use dead space. While you typically don’t have the rack space to store idle pallets, many facilities have had success with over-dock-door pallet storage racking. This is often unused space, and can be converted to pallet storage with specialized racks.

Never keep or re-use damaged pallets

Damaged pallets are inherently unsafe.  They are also a factor in product damage incidents. When a pallet is splintered on its ends, it has a good chance of cutting or scraping workers who handle it. When it has protruding nails or fasteners, it’s even more unsafe. If it’s missing boards, stringers, or other components, it can break under a load, or while being transported by forklift. It can tilt or lean while stored in racks.  That’s unsafe for workers, and can result in a spilled pallet and lots of inventory damage.


Source:  Cisco-eagle.com

For more details also see:  http://repalletize.com/blog/26-pictures-analyzing-pallet-management-at-businesses



Safe Winter Walking

January Safety Tip

Safe Winter Walking
  • Wear proper footwear. Proper footwear should place the entire foot on the surface of the ground and have visible treads. Avoid a smooth sole and opt for a heavy treaded shoe with a flat bottom – no high heel boots!
  • Plan ahead. While walking on snow or ice on sidewalks or in parking lots, walk consciously. Instead of looking down, look up and see where your feet will move next to anticipate ice or an uneven surface. Occasionally scan from left to right to ensure you are not in the way of vehicles or other hazards.
  • Use your eyes and ears. You want to be sure you can hear approaching traffic and other noises. Avoid listening to music or engaging in conversation that may prevent you from hearing oncoming traffic or snow removal equipment.
  • Anticipate ice. Be wary of thin sheets of ice that may appear as wet pavement (black ice). Often ice will appear in the morning, in shady spots or where the sun shines during the day and melted snow refreezes at night.
  • Walk stairs slowly. When walking down steps, be sure to grip handrails firmly and plant your feet securely on each step.
  • Enter a building carefully. When you get to your destination, be sure to look at the floor as you enter the building. The floor may be wet with melted snow and ice.
  • Be careful when you shift your weight. When stepping off a curb or getting into a car, be careful since shifting your weight may cause an imbalance and result in a fall. Use 3-point contact when entering your vehicle make sure you two hands are holding you as you lift your foot.
  • Look up. Be careful about what you walk under.  Injuries also can result from falling snow/ice as it blows, melts, or breaks away from awnings, buildings, etc.
  • Ask your employer to leave a bucket of salt at the door with small cups so you can salt the area as you walk to your car. You can carry a bag of kitty litter in your car and spread it as you get out and start to walk to the building.


December Safety Tip

Arm positioning and grip are important aspects of lifting. Unless the parts are very small, you should lift with both hands and keep your hands underneath the part so your palms are facing up. This will engage the biceps and take pressure off of the forearm.  Pinch grips/precision grips using the thumb, index, and middle fingers are very stressful to the muscles. Instead of a pinch grip, lift the part with your whole hand or with two hands. As you handle materials and parts today, try to look for times where you normally use a pinch grip. Can you change the grip?

“For hand tool design, many factors should be considered before purchasing hand tools.  Consider the following recommended design features:

  • For handle design:
    • Preferable is 5” length with a 4” minimum
    • If gloves are worn add 0.5” for handle length
    • If a power grip (i.e., full grasp) is used then the diameter should be about 1.5”
    • For a precision grip (thumb and index and middle fingers) then  have a 0.5” diameter
    • If the tool has two handles, the inside width between the handles should be 2.5” to 3.5”
    • The handle should provide the greatest force-bearing area as possible (i.e., a good portion of the hand should be on the tool)
    • Avoid smooth or high polish surface (such as smooth wood, bare metal handles).  Textured, padded handles are preferred
    • Avoid form-fitting finger recesses (more than 1/8”)
    • The handle should have good electrical and heat insulation
    • Doesn’t absorb oil, solvents, etc.
    • There should be no sharp edges
    • The handle should extend beyond the palm (i.e., no handle ending in the palm causing contact stress)
    • The above can help the tool be balanced in the hand (helping to prevent awkward deviation postures)
    • For tools that insert/press parts together it should have a flange or thumb stop
    • Consider bent handles to control wrist deviations
    • For twisting or rotation movements have a shallow longitudinal groove
    • For pushing/pulling tasks along an axis a slight ripple texture is recommended
  • If a tool weighs more than 5 lbs., use a tool balancer device
  • The tool should provide sensory feedback
  • It should allow for right/left hand options

Another good guide is from NIOSH/CDC:  A Guide To Selecting Non-Powered Hand Tools

Ladder Safety

November Safety Tip

Ladders are tools.  Many of the basic safety rules that apply to most tools also apply to the safe use of a ladder:

  • If you feel tired or dizzy, or are prone to losing your balance, stay off the ladder.
  • Do not use ladders in high winds or storms.
  • Wear clean slip-resistant shoes.  Shoes with leather soles are not appropriate for ladder use since they are not considered sufficiently slip resistant.
  • Choose the appropriate ladder for the job.
  • Before using a ladder, inspect it to confirm it is in good working condition.
    • Ladders with loose or missing parts must be rejected. Rickety ladders that sway or lean to the side must be rejected.
  • The ladder you select must be the right size for the job.
    • The Duty Rating of the ladder must be greater than the total weight of the climber, tools, supplies and other objects placed upon the ladder. The length of the ladder must be sufficient so that the climber does not have to stand on the top rung or step.
  • When the ladder is set-up for use, it must be placed on firm level ground and without any type of slippery condition present at either the base or top support points.
  • Only one person at a time is permitted on a ladder unless the ladder is specifically designed for more than one climber (such as a Trestle Ladder).
  • Ladders must not be placed in front of closed doors that can open toward the ladder. The door must be blocked open, locked, or guarded.
  • Read the safety information labels on the ladder.
  • Step onto the ladder squarely from the front. There was recently an injury where a person stepped on the bottom step from the side and the ladders shifted causing the railing to hit the person hard in the face.
  • Use a step ladder or step stool to reach high shelves. Never stand on a chair or a box to reach.
  • Don’t reach out too far. Keep your belt buckle area between the rails of the ladder.
  • Always keep 3 points of contact while climbing.

Powered Hand Tools

October Safety Tip

When and how should you inspect powered hand tools?

  • Inspect tools for any damage prior to each use.
  • Check the handle and body casing of the tool for cracks or other damage.
  • If the tool has auxiliary or double handles, check to see that they installed securely.
  • Inspect cords for defects: check the power cord for cracking, fraying, and other signs of wear or faults in the cord insulation.
  • Check for damaged switches and ones with faulty trigger locks.
  • Inspect the plug for cracks and for missing, loose or faulty prongs.

What should you do if you find a tool defective?  

  • If a tool is defective, remove it from service, and tag it clearly “Out of service for repair”.
  • Replace damaged equipment immediately – do not use defective tools “temporarily”.
  • Have tools repaired by a qualified person – do not attempt field repairs.

What should you do before using powered hand tools?

  • Ensure that you have been properly trained to use the tool safely. Read the operator’s manual before using the tool and operate the tool according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Use only tested and approved tools.
  • Ensure that the power tool has the correct guard, shield or other attachment that the manufacturer recommends.
  • Prevent shocks. Ensure that the tools are properly grounded using a three-prong plug, are double-insulated (and are labelled as such).  This is what a double insulated symbol looks like and will be on the tool’s label.  A tool cannot be both double insulated and have a ground pin in the plug.
  • Check electric tools to ensure that a tool with a 3-prong plug has an approved 3-wire cord and is grounded. The three-prong plug should be plugged in a properly grounded 3-pole outlet.  NEVER remove the third, grounding prong from a plug.  


Trust Yourself

September Safety Tip

When you are doing a job, do you listen to that inner voice that tells you something is wrong?  If you are doing a task and pause because something doesn’t seem right, do you actually stop for a minute and figure out what made you pause?  You need to stop and review what you are doing and why, what is it you are sensing as not being right?   Often the red flag goes up inside us, yet we dismiss it and keep going.

You don’t have to be an expert on safety regulations or the safest work practices to identify a problem. If it doesn’t look right or doesn’t feel right, then it isn’t right.  It’s ok to stop and figure it out or talk to your supervisor; you could be saving yourself or someone else from an injury.

What if you ignored it and something happened and you injured your co-worker.  How would you feel?  Anytime something feels off or not exactly the way it should be.  STOP!  Get assistance to work through what is not right.  You are protecting yourself, others in the area and possibly the company itself.

Confined Space & Toxins

August Safety Tip

Confined spaces exist in many workplaces today; tanks, storage bins, utility vaults, silos and pits are a few examples. Deadly hazards that may be present include toxic chemicals, limited oxygen, carbon monoxide, flammable gases and dusts and entrapment. All confined spaces must be assessed to determine if they require a permit for entry, and workers must have special training, PPE and written procedures to ensure safety in the face of many possible hazards.

Many workplaces contain areas that are considered “confined spaces” because while they are not necessarily designed for people, they are large enough for workers to enter and perform certain jobs. A confined space also has limited or restricted means for entry or exit and is not designed for continuous occupancy.

OSHA uses the term “permit-required confined space” (permit space) to describe a confined space that has one or more of the following characteristics: contains or has the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere; contains material that has the potential to engulf an entrant; has walls that converge inward or floors that slope downward and taper into a smaller area which could trap or asphyxiate an entrant; or contains any other recognized safety or health hazard, such as unguarded machinery, exposed live wires, or heat stress.

The atmosphere in a confined space can be extremely hazardous due to the lack of air circulation. Because fresh air can’t move freely in and out of a confined space like storage tanks, pipes, silos and manholes, a variety of hazardous conditions can be created. Deadly gases may be trapped inside, especially if the confined space is used to store or process chemicals. There may not be enough oxygen in the space to support life, or the air could be so oxygen rich that it could cause a fire or explosion if ignited. There are three types of hazardous atmospheres that confined space workers should be aware of:

Toxic Atmospheres: The product found in a confined space can be absorbed into the walls and floors of the confined space and give off toxic gases. For example, sludge cleaned out of the inside of a tank can give off deadly hydrogen sulfide gas. Also, the work being performed in the confined space can also generate toxic fumes. Welding, cutting, sanding, scraping and cleaning can all give off toxic vapors.

Oxygen-Deficient Atmospheres: An oxygen-deficient atmosphere has less than 19.5% available oxygen. Any confined space with less than 19.5% oxygen should not be entered without wearing a self-contained breathing apparatus. Oxygen can be removed from the atmosphere by work such as welding, cutting or brazing. Oxygen levels can also be decreased if replaced with other gases like carbon dioxide or nitrogen, or by chemical reactions inside the confined space like rusting or fermentation.
Flammable Atmospheres: Two things make the atmosphere flammable, oxygen in the air and a flammable gas, vapor or dust in the right mixture. If a source of ignition like a spark from a tool occurs an explosion will result. An oxygen-enriched atmosphere (over 21% oxygen) will cause flammable materials like clothing and hair to burn violently. Therefore, don’t use pure oxygen to vent a confined space. Ventilate with normal air.

Never trust your senses to determine if the air in a confined space is hazardous. Many toxic gases and vapors can’t be seen or smelled. Be sure to test the atmosphere with a properly calibrated testing instrument. If testing reveals a hazardous atmosphere, be sure to take precautions like ventilating the space or ensuring workers have the proper respiratory protection. Posting Confined Space Signs will also remind workers to take proper precautions and wear the appropriate protective equipment before entering any confined space.