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Hot Liquids, Chemicals and Electrical Hazards Need the Right Equipment

Personal protective equipment, commonly known as PPE, is the last line of defense to protect employees from injury. Occupational Safety and Health Administration standard 1910.132, available online, provides requirements for PPE to help prevent burns from various hazards such as hot liquids, chemicals or electrical hazards.

Hot liquid hazards

OSHA requires PPE for exposure to hot liquids. This can include gloves, helmets, face shields, boots and aprons. Employees can wear a completely insulated environmental suit that would protect them from high temperatures when appropriate. Supervisors must consider the heat stress that the employee faces while wearing this PPE. 

The danger of live steam has no appropriate or acceptable PPE, and so workers must use lockout/tagout procedures to eliminate steam from equipment. Supervisors should ensure that all exposed steam and hot water pipes within 7 feet of the floor or working platform must be covered with insulating material or guarded to prevent contact. 

Chemical hazards

Chemicals that present a hazard to employees have a Safety Data Sheet that indicates what PPE employees must wear, such as neoprene aprons, gloves, goggles, respirators and face shields, among other items. Standards also require an eyewash station and shower to be located within 25 feet of locations with chemical hazards, with no stairs or doorways in the way.

Unlike electrical and hot liquids, workers could still have chemical exposure even after exiting the area where they encountered the hazard. As a result, employers must train workers on how to put on and take off PPE properly, so they will not face chemical exposure while working or afterward.

Electrical hazards

Electrical hazards involve working on or near energized equipment within the “approach boundaries” identified in the National Fire Protection Association 70E toolkit available through, each boundary restricting different activity. There are the flash-protection boundary, limited-approach, restricted-approach and prohibited-approach boundaries. Arc-rated PPE is needed within the arc flash boundary.

All PPE used around electrical hazards needs to be approved for use around electrical hazards must be tested and maintained according to the manufacturer's instructions. All exposed employees need to wear under layers of clothing made from natural fibers such as cotton, wool or silk, among others.  

There are two relatively new electrical safety standards for electrical hazard PPE available through ASTM International’s website,  — ASTM F3258 Arc Rated Electrical Protector Gloves and "ASTM F3502 Cloth Face Coverings. These two new standards offer testing for many factors, such as the dangers posed by cuts, punctures or arc flashes, that older standards did not.

Equipment maintenance and training 

Workers need to keep all PPE maintained in a safe and reliable condition. They must also regularly inspect or test it as required by the manufacturer and the OSHA Code of Federal Regulations 1910.137. When facing burn hazards, employees must not use any PPE that is contaminated with grease, oil, or liquids that are either flammable or combustible. 

All employees exposed to any kind of burn hazards must receive training that addresses several points:

  • What circumstances require PPE, and what kind of PPE they require
  • How to properly put on, take off, adjust and wear the PPE
  • The protection limitations of the PPE
  • The proper inspection and maintenance of the PPE

Employees also need further training when they handle jobs that need additional or new types of PPE, or when they indicate that they do not understand or follow proper PPE procedures.