Personal Protective Equipment During Fire Cleanup
- This webpage discusses personal protective equipment (PPE) other than respiratory protection. See also Respiratory Protective Equipment During Fire Cleanup Operations.
- This webpage does not discuss protective equipment needed for hazardous substance cleanup or removal operations, hazardous waste operations, or emergency response to releases or threats of releases of hazardous substances. Those operations must comply with the Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response standard in California Code of Regulations, Title 8 section 5192.
- Particular care should be taken in situations where gases and vapors may form pockets, such as in basements of destroyed houses. The gases and vapors may be slow to dissipate from those areas. In addition, over time, decaying vegetation may create pockets of hydrogen sulfide, methane, and carbon monoxide. Any of these gases can be deadly or explosive. These situations require special precautions and equipment in addition to the requirements described below.
- Fire debris and waste materials may contain hazardous substances. Employees may expose their families to such hazardous substances unknowingly through their work clothes and personal protective equipment. To help prevent such exposures, employees should use coveralls and leave the coveralls and all other protective equipment at the site or have them properly cleaned at the site.
During post-fire cleanup and recovery operations, employers must provide employees with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
Employers are required to identify and evaluate hazards in the workplace and determine what protective measures are needed. If PPE is needed, the employer must:
- Select the type of PPE that will protect employees from the identified hazards
- Select PPE that properly fits each affected employee
- Train employees on the necessity, use, maintenance, and limitations of the PPE
- Ensure employees use the PPE
(California Code of Regulations, Title 8, section 3380)
Employees working in locations where they may receive a head injury from flying or falling objects, electric shock, or burns must be provided head protection meeting the requirements of American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard Z89.1. Employees should adjust the suspension in hardhats so that it fits securely (section 3381).
Employees working in locations where they may receive eye injuries such as punctures, abrasions, contusions, or burns as a result of contact with flying particles, hazardous substances, or projections must be provided appropriate face or eye protection. Appropriate eye protection must also be provided and used to protect against eye injury from dangerous light rays from welding or lasers (section 3382).
Workers may be exposed to excessive noise from heavy equipment and power tools. Employers must use feasible engineering or administrative controls to protect employees from excessive noise. If engineering and administrative controls fail to reduce noise to allowable levels, hearing protection, such as earplugs or earmuffs, must be provided (sections 5095 – 5100).
Employers must select, provide, and require employees to use appropriate hand protection when employee's hands are exposed to hazards such as those from skin absorption of harmful substances, cuts or lacerations, abrasions, punctures, chemical burns, thermal burns, radioactive materials, and harmful temperature extremes. The right type of glove must be provided for the particular hazards at the worksite; some gloves are designed to prevent cuts and punctures while other are designed to protect against chemicals or extreme temperatures (section 3384).
Employers may be required to provide protective clothing to employees who are exposed to hazardous substances or flying objects. At a minimum, employees should use a long-sleeved work shirt and long pants to protect against injury from abrasive materials that are common at fire cleanup sites (section 3383).
Foot Protection (Safety Shoes)
Employers must provide foot protection to employees who may receive foot injuries from:
- Electrical hazards
- Hot, corrosive, or poisonous substances
- Falling objects
- Crushing or penetrating actions.
Foot protection is also required for employees who are required to work in abnormally wet locations. Safety shoes must meet the requirements and specifications in American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standard F2412-05 and ASTM standard F2413-05 (section 3385).
Personal Fall Protection
In most cases, guardrails are required to protect employees from falls at elevated locations. Where guardrails cannot be installed, employers must provide employees with personal fall protection. The employer must establish safe anchorage points to attach fall protection systems and train employees on the proper use of fall protection systems. Fall protection systems must prevent employees from free falling more than six feet or contacting any lower level. Anchorage points for fall protection must be at or above the employee’s waist (sections 3210, 1621 and 1670).