Hard Hats Then
In 1919, the E.D. Bullard Co. patented the "Hard-Boiled Hat,” which was made of steamed canvas, glue, and black paint. In the 1930s, it became mandatory for construction workers to wear hard hats on the Hoover Dam and Golden Gate Bridge construction projects.
Hard Hats Now
Modern hard hats are mostly constructed from high-density polyethylene (HDPE) or advanced engineering resins. According to OSHA, protective headgear must meet ANSI Standard Z89.1-1986 (Protective Headgear for Industrial Workers) or provide an equivalent level of protection.
Safety Goggles Then
Powell Johnson, an African-American inventor, patented his “eye protectors” in 1880. In his patent, Johnson wrote that his "invention relates to certain improvements in eye-protectors for use of furnace men, puddlers, firemen, and others exposed to glare of strong light, as well as persons of weak sight." (In case you’re wondering, a “puddler” is someone who turns pig iron into wrought iron.)
Safety Goggles Now
Most people who are required to use eye protection on a regular basis would probably agree that today’s safety glasses are far more lightweight, fashionable, and comfortable than their predecessors. In addition, OSHA states that employers must use and provide for employees eyewear that is constructed in accordance ANSI Z87.1-2015 (American National Standard for Occupational and Educational Personal Eye and Face Protection Devices) or their proven equivalent.
Hearing Protection Then
The first recorded mention of earplugs occurred in the Greek epic The Odyssey, when Odysseus was advised to fashion beeswax earplugs for himself and his ship’s crew so they wouldn’t be lured to their deaths by the Siren’s song. Ray and Cecilia Benner invented the first moldable pure silicone ear plugs in 1962. Ten years later, Ross Gardner invented foam earplugs.
Hearing Protection Now
Today’s hearing protection typically offers a noise reduction rating (NRR) of between 26 and 33 decibels. For more information on how to safeguard your hearing, visit ANSI's Noise Safety Standards webpage.
Safety Gloves Then
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Although gloves have been around since the time of Vikings (the word “glove” comes from Old Norse), the first glove used for safety purposes was invented by William Stewart Halsted in 1889. The first chief of surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Halsted invented rubber gloves to prevent medical staff from developing dermatitis from surgical chemicals.
Safety Gloves Now
Today, electrical workers can choose safety gloves made from a variety of materials to help protect their hands against everything from cuts to burns to electric shock. To help ensure safety and performance, safety gloves should meet and/or exceed the requirements of ASTM D120-14a – Standard Specification for Rubber Insulating Gloves. Gloves should also be electrically tested following ASTM D120-14a and International Standard IEC 60903:2014.
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Like gloves, respirators have been around since ancient times. Did you know the first respirator was pioneered in the first century A.D. by Pliny the Elder, who recommended Roman miners use animal bladders to protect themselves from inhaling poisonous dust?
Luckily, using animal bladders to safeguard your lungs is a thing of the past (or so we hope). Workers today who need protection from harmful contaminants can choose from two types of respirators: air-purifying versions, which force contaminated air through a filtering element, and air-supplied, which deliver an alternate supply of fresh air.
Wooden boots, called sabots, were one of the first types of foot protection. European workers and farmers wore them to help keep their feet and toes safe from falling objects and the stray cow hoof. During World War II, steel toe boots came into use.
Wood you believe that modern protective footwear offers safety toe guards, metatarsal guards, electrical hazard ratings, and electro static dissipating ratings (bad pun intended)?
Fall Protection Then
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Believe it or not, fall arrest devices have been in use since the early 20th century. The first prototypes used rope lanyards made of natural fibers, such as Manila hemp, and simple body belts with no shock-absorbing properties. Clarence W. Rose, who started his career as a window washer, pioneered fall protection when he founded the Rose Mfg. Co. in 1934 and began producing safety belts and lanyards.
Fall Protection Now
This form of PPE has come a long way in the past 100 or so years, which is a good thing, considering that falls from height are one of the leading causes of death in the workplace. Contemporary versions consist of an anchor point, connecting means, energy absorbers, and body holding devices.
Protective Clothing Then
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As far back as the 18th century, alum and ammonium were used to make fabrics resistant to fire. The discovery of tetra hydroxylmethyl phosponium chloride (THPC) in 1953 helped advanced the process of making fabrics flame-resistant.
Protective Clothing Now
Dozens of manufacturers offer FR clothing and suits made from Nomex, polybenzimidazole (PBI), Kevlar, and even wool, which ignites at a higher temperature than cotton and some synthetic fibers, has a lower rate of flame spread, lower rate of heat release, lower heat combustion, and it doesn’t drip or melt.