OHS is a broad concept which covers a number of issues. It is not just regulations or a set of rules that identify the responsibility of the employer and employees, it is also an instruction on how to deal with potentially hazardous machinery. OHS, or Occupational Health and Safety rules, apply to all situations in which special care must be taken when performing certain activities. These may be work at height or maintenance of the electrical system, but also drilling a small hole in a wall at home. Certain safety rules apply to even such seemingly easy tasks as the last one mentioned. What is more, such tasks require using some apparently trivial accessories, such as gloves, safety goggles and hearing protectors.
TME is mainly known as an international distributor of electronic components. However, we have been expanding our catalogue for many years, to be able to offer a variety of products commonly used in factories, plants, warehouses and machine parks. Such products include OHS solutions from renowned manufacturers, such as 3M, Yato, Delta Plus or Panduit.
How does protective clothing protect the health of employees?
Protective clothing is an example of basic OHS equipment. The most obvious solution is clothing in bright, warning colours. Depending on your needs, these may be, for example, vests or jackets. When working in low temperatures, instead of wearing a jacket with a safety vest on it, it is better to wear a fluorescent fleece with sewn-in reflective stripes. Thanks to the use of elastic bands on the cuffs and a fine fit, such outwear remains close to the body, which additionally increases safety at work.
Another basic element of work clothing is footwear. Even the seemingly ordinary Delta Plus half-shoes have some important advantages: their sole is designed not only to prevent the accumulation of static electricity, but also provide the wearer with a good surface grip. The material of the footwear itself is reinforced to make it difficult to puncture. In other variants, shoe tips are additionally reinforced by covering them with a thick rubber cap. It should also be noted that TME offers other products intended for leg protection, e.g. tall wellingtons for field work (also at low temperatures). A related product are also Yato's knee pads (compliant with the EN 14404 standard, which regulates the conditions for working in a kneeling position).
Professional helmets are worn not only on the construction site. They have also been an indispensable attribute of electricians and electromechanics for decades. Most often we encounter at least one of the two standards: EN 397 or EN 50365. The former of these applies to helmets providing vertical impact absorption, puncture resistance and fire resistance. These helmets must also be fitted with chin straps. EN 50365 refers to safety headgear for persons working with low-voltage installations (i.e. up to 1000V AC or 1500V DC). For example, 3M helmets available at TME are typical workwear for construction sites, warehouses or factories (they also protect against splashes of molten metal particles). On the other hand, DIAMOND V UP series helmets by Delta Plus (whose shape resembles a baseball cap) are also resistant to side deformation and provide isolation against voltages of up to 1kV.
Delta Plus safety helmet with a retractable visor – for working with low-voltage installations.
Protecting hands and arms with the right gloves seems to be the most obvious OHS guideline. Also here, there is a great variety of standards and products available. For example, electrical insulating gloves can be adapted to work with installations of up to 500V AC, but also up to 17kV AC. Protective gloves are the most specialised solutions. Depending on the needs, they may have different resistance to abrasion, cutting, tearing or puncture – and also resistance to additional factors, such as chemicals or high temperature. In the TME catalogue you will also find gloves for very specific purposes, e.g. for renovation works or gardening. For understandable reasons, hand protection is strictly regulated by OHS regulations. General European standards and local authorities determine which gloves are required for a particular type of work. For the convenience of our customers, the TME catalogue specifies exactly which standards are met by each of the available products.
How can you protect your eyesight and hearing at work?
One of the most often neglected safeguards is hearing protection. Unfortunately, this negligence has a number of consequences for health. Hearing loss is a serious social and occupational disease. Hearing protectors are essential accessories when working with machines on a construction site or in a factory, but also in more trivial circumstances: when sawing wood, mowing grass, or even printing with machines (e.g. at a printing and copying service point). Two types of hearing protectors are most common: ear defenders or earplugs (so-called “plugs”). The latter often come in a special version, i.e. they are connected with each other by means of a band or string, which makes it easier to take them off and put them on, and at the same time makes it difficult to lose them. The choice of ear defenders largely depends on individual preferences – however, it is always necessary to pay attention to the degree of damping, which is indicated in the specification of each product. Ear defenders that can be fixed to a protective helmets are also available.
Another noteworthy product are 3M-PELTOR-X4 ear defenders. These protectors not only guarantee hearing protection against noise. Thanks to the 3M-PELTOR-WCA Bluetooth module available on our offer, they are a tool that supports communication in difficult acoustic conditions, such as a steelworks or a manufacturing hall.
Ultimately, it is important to mention a safeguard whose the importance should never be underestimated – eye protectors. The cornea of the human eye is one of the most delicate and most innervated tissues in the human body, it can be painfully damaged even by small objects. In this case, mining or metallurgical industry are obviously very risky; however, there is a number of “ordinary” activities where eye protection is worth considering: gardening work, chopping wood, renovation works, car repair. The simplest of protections are special glasses. They are usually characterized by a reinforced design and impact resistance as well as a UV light filter. Alternatively, they may also be dimmed, which will be appreciated especially by those working in full sun. Better eye protection (although not always necessary) is ensured by goggles. They hug the face better and also provide side protection against airborne splinters or sawdust. To a certain extent, they also prevent against air blasts carrying irritating dusts (e.g. when sanding).
OHS and access control
OHS inspectors are well aware of the challenge of securing all installations from unauthorized access. That is why the TME catalogue includes a number of proven and universal solutions by Panduit. These are various types of locking devices, usually secured with padlocks – one or more, i.e. for use in places where access requires authorisation granted by several persons, or where only an authorised technician can work under the supervision of a superior. In our catalogue you will find lockouts for switches, valves, slides, as well as lockout hasps (e.g. for electrical cabinet doors). They can be used both in the workplace and at home, as protection against opening a valve or switching on the power supply by a child.
Polypropylene ball valve lockout. Panduit brand.
The best health and safety measures don't cost an arm and a leg!
Finally, it should be remembered that the cheapest, and possibly most effective protection of health and life at work is information. Proper workplace labelling prevents many potentially fatal situations. TME offers a range of basic labelling, essential for any company and many households. These include prohibitory, mandatory and informative labels (often self-adhesive). We also offer special warning and marking tapes. They are made of durable materials that are resistant to trampling, as they are most often applied on the floor. They are used to identify danger zones in machine parks as well as to mark passageways.