Challenges with Monitoring and Productivity in Task-Based Systems

Arc Flash Daily Wear Programs 4 of 5

This is the fourth post in a series of five posts comparing and contrasting task-based and daily wear approaches to arc-rated (AR) clothing programs. Check out our first post here, and our posts exploring liability issues and challenges with layering. In our last post we will look at important takeaways.

In a task-based program, workers wear “normal” clothing to work and carry a kit containing the PPE they will need to wear to cross a limited approach boundary. Accordingly, this approach to protecting workers burdens each individual worker with the decision of when to don AR clothing, when it is safe to remove it, and who else in the vicinity may need to be excluded from the flash protection boundary, or required to don AR to enter it.

These individualized, situational decisions introduce significant liability issues, along with associated challenges with monitoring and productivity:

Monitoring

OSHA requires the employer to monitor appropriate use of PPE. So, when an accident occurs and the task-based worker was not in compliance, the company will be held liable even if it can prove the hazard was analyzed, the appropriate PPE provided, and the worker was trained.

Thus, despite doing everything else right, in a task-based situation where a worker fails to don the appropriate AR clothing, takes it off too soon, or wears it improperly, the company will still face fines, potential legal action, and the extreme expenses of a burn injury.

As a result, most safety managers will not allow each individual worker to make dozens of decisions every week, out of sight or reach of supervision, when any single decision could result in catastrophic injury or death and the associated costs and issues.

Productivity

The average worker will tackle many tasks in any given day, each with different hazard levels.  If he/she is required to retrieve, don, and doff AR coveralls and PPE each time a given task demands it, the cost of these delays can quickly exceed the supplemental cost of daily wear AR over the 3-4 year service life of the clothing.

Productivity costs – and liability – are magnified greatly the more remote the possible work locations are from the storage location of the AR garments; the greater the distance between the worker and the appropriate PPE, the less likely the worker is to retrieve and don the AR clothing.

This situation is exacerbated when a worker faces tasks which can range across 3 or more hazard risk categories.

As a result of these risks and potential costs, many companies in compliance with NFPA 70E choose not to rely on task-based systems, instead leveraging a daily wear approach to protecting workers. Read on to learn more in our final post.

Feel overwhelmed at the idea of requiring workers to report to work in AR daily wear? Have no fear. Find out about a best-practice approach that minimizes costs and headaches while maximizing safety and compliance.

Need assistance with a technical question? Use the box on the right to request a complimentary technical consultation with Scott Margolin, who can help you assess your specific situation and determine which model best suits your needs.

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