Self-Retracting Lifelines 101: Everything You Need To Know About SRLs and PFLs

When working at heights, selecting the proper fall protection may be the difference between getting the job done safely or a preventable tragedy. Unfortunately, due to the complexity of fall hazards, there is no one size fits all answer to protecting workers.

Lack of understanding of the different fall protection components and their application can put workers at risk. Thankfully, with better employee training and a practical system for identifying fall protection needs, these risks can be mitigated and help everyone go home safely at the end of the day.

Do you sometimes struggle with picking the safest fall protection for the task? This article will answer some of your biggest questions about two of today’s most commonly used fall protection components, the Self-Retracting Lifeline (SRL) and the Personal Fall Limiter (PFL).

How do SRLs and PFLs work?

At a high level, SRLs and PFLs essentially work the same; they connect the user’s harness to an anchor point and consist of a retractable web or cable lanyard and work like the seatbelt in a car.

They can be pulled out and retracted quickly, but in the case of a quick tug, an internal braking mechanism engages. During a fall, this mechanism engages and an energy absorbing mechanism slows, then stops the line over a short distance, preventing further falling while reducing the impact force on the user’s body.

What is the difference between an SRL and PFL?

While SRLs and PFLs are similar, there are a few distinctions.

PFLs are generally a more compact, lightweight version of a self-retracting lifeline. They connect directly to the D-ring of a body harness and provide working lengths from 6 to 9 feet.

SRLs are generally larger and heavier than PFLs, connect directly to an anchor point, and provide longer user working lengths.

What is the difference between Class A and Class B SRLs?

In the past, overhead-anchored SRLs had a Class A or Class B designation to describe the deceleration distance and force associated with the ANSI drop tests. For example, the average arresting force for Class A is 1350 lbs, while the average arresting force for class B is 900 lbs.

However, since the 2021 revision to ANSI Z359.14, classes now distinguish between products for overhead-only (Class 1) or leading-edge (Class 2). These classes help explain how much free fall the product can handle and if it is rated for a fall event over an edge.

Read more about the updates to ANSI Z359.14 here.

What is considered a leading edge?

OSHA defines a leading edge as “the edge of a floor, roof, or formwork for a floor or other walking or working surface (such as the deck) which changes location as additional floor, roof, decking, or formwork sections are placed, formed, or constructed.”¹

Due to the nature of the work, installing a guardrail around the edge of a surface under construction may not be feasible. However, workers must wear fall protection when approaching the unprotected “leading edge.”

Leading edge work adds additional elements of risk that users must be aware of when selecting fall protection:

  1. If a worker falls over the leading edge, the sharp edge can sever a lifeline on impact or from the worker swinging back and forth.
  2. The anchorage for leading edge applications is usually (though not always) below D-ring level, often at foot level, because there is not always an overhead, approved attachment point, such as a wall or ceiling joist, and the lower anchor point does not interfere with a worker’s arm movement.

That’s why only Class 2 SRLs specifically designed and approved for a leading edge must be used.

When to use web vs. cable SRLs?

When choosing an SRL, you might wonder about the different advantages of web and cable SRLs.

Stainless and galvanized steel cable SRLs are well-suited for harsh environments. Their durability allows them to withstand more of the cuts and scrapes you find in specific industries. Class 2 steel cable SRLs also work for leading edge applications.

Nylon and polyester web SRLs are well-suited for work in sensitive areas where you would not  want a steel cable rubbing against valuable or sensitive equipment. They are also preferable when working around electricity because the webbing is non-conductive. Finally, they are much lighter than cable options making them easier to carry on your back or transport.

How MSA simplifies SRL and PFL selection.

The new V-SERIES® line of SRLs from MSA simplifies on-the-job fall protection selection by using a simple-to-follow color coding system that distinguishes between leading edge and non-leading edge compatible SRLs. In addition, new easy-to-access and read dashboard labels and clearance charts make picking the proper fall protection much more straightforward. To learn more about how MSA helps make fall protection selection safer, faster, and easier, check out the V-SERIES line of SRLs here.

Top 10 Most Cited OSHA Violations of 2022

Every year, OSHA publishes the top list of 10 most frequently cited standards so that employers can take steps to find and fix recognized hazards.

For the 12th year in a row, Fall Protection topped the list, followed by Hazard Communication and Respiratory Protection.

The Top 10 most frequently cited workplace safety standards for FY 2022 are:

  1. Fall Protection – General Requirements (1926.501): 5,260 violations
  2. Hazard Communication (1910.1200): 2,424
  3. Respiratory Protection (1910.134): 2,185
  4. Ladders (1926.1053): 2,143
  5. Scaffolding (1926.451): 2,058
  6. Lockout/Tagout (1910.147): 1,977
  7. Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178): 1,749
  8. Fall Protection – Training Requirements (1926.503): 1,556
  9. Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment – Eye and Face Protection (1926.102): 1,401
  10. Machine Guarding (1910.212): 1,370

Far too many preventable injuries and illnesses occur in the workplace. To help evaluate your worksite and prevent violations, download our infographic to learn more about the top 10 violations of 2022.

For more information on what MSA products can help keep you and other workers safe, visit our website.

MSA Hard Hat FAQs: Download the Guide

Whether you are using a Type 1 or Type 2 MSA hard hat, following proper care and use recommendations can help keep its protection capabilities in place. Be sure to inspect your hard hat prior to each use and during the day; remember, you might not notice when damage occurs and even a hairline crack can affect the integrity.

Not sure which category your hard hat falls into?

Type 1 options consist of:

  • V-Gard® Caps and Hats, including the new V-Card C1™ Hard Hat
  • SmoothDome® Caps
  • Thermalgard® Caps
  • Topgard® Caps and Hats
  • Skullgard® Caps and Hats
  • Comfo-Cap® Hard Hats

Type 2 options from MSA are Super V® Helmets, which feature a foam liner with integrated Fas-Trac® suspension and are slotted for use with MSA accessories.

But what about other questions you may have, such as what is the service life of an MSA industrial helmet? Or can a baseball cap be worn under an MSA industrial helmet?

Download the guide below to get answers to the most frequently asked questions about the care and use of MSA hard hats.

New Technologies in Gas Detection: Driving connected workers, worksites, and workflows for improved safety.

When working in hazardous environments, safety doesn’t come easily, especially when unintentional human error happens at high rates. In fact, based on incident reports, statistics show that up to 90% of serious workplace injuries and accidents are a result of human error.¹

It’s important, therefore, to eliminate or at least reduce the potential for human error. So, despite the many interruptions you and your workers may encounter throughout the workday, it’s still everyone’s responsibility to be accountable for personal safety, as well as the safety and well-being of fellow workers.

Clearly, this is not an easy job!

Ensuring compliance and accountability is not only challenging, it can also lead to operational inefficiencies. Thankfully, advanced technologies can make a difference by helping you simplify safety, curb risk, and boost productivity.

Which is why we’re excited to introduce you to our latest solution, the MSA Connected Work Platform driven by the ALTAIR io™ 4 Gas Detection Wearable, with automatic cellular connectivity and connection to MSA Grid cloud-based software. This powerful new solution is uniquely designed to support a stronger, more proactive culture of safety and performance.

Out-of-the-Box Connectivity

Before we get into how your typical day can be made safer and more efficient with the ALTAIR io 4 device, you may want to know just how easy it is to get started. The io 4 was designed to be ready to go, literally out of the box:

  • Fast: Plug-and-play deployment.
  • Hassle free: Instant connectivity, no IT required.
  • Connected: Built-in CAT-M LTE cellular connectivity.
  • Seamless: Works with leading national networks and comes with MSA Grid software integration.

Automation Attributes

Now, let’s talk about the many benefits of this connected solution. It doesn’t take more than an average morning’s start-of-shift to understand just how time-consuming it can be to prepare a crew for the workday. There’s a lot that goes into readying gas detectors, assigning devices, and tracking who has which device when the workday starts and ends.

Connectivity improves the entire process with automation capabilities that help speed up check out and check in, as well as ensure device readiness and worker accountability:

  • Increases accountability and use: Every detector can be assigned a digital MSA id Tag, and every id Tag is tagged to each worker.
  • Boosts productivity: With the id Tag, workers quickly check in and get to work without the waiting time required by clipboard sign-ins and manual processes.
  • Improves inventory management: By placing the device back into the charger, the device is automatically returned to the fleet. This means no more lost or unaccounted for devices along with their costly consequences.

Advanced Features

Since a non-compliant device can lead to disastrous outcomes, it’s essential to ensure that every device is optimized. In other words, every device operates and protects the worker as it should. Technology not only makes this possible, it also makes it seamless:

  • Removes potential for human error: The MSA io Dock is designed to automatically select and perform bump tests and calibration whenever a device needs it.
  • Visual indicators: Safe LED lights show any device’s state of compliance. Green, yellow, and red lights represent “compliant,” “non-compliant,” and “in alarm,” respectively.
  • Device lock out: This feature ensures that non-compliant devices cannot be inadvertently used.
  • Valuable insights: Now you can tie real-time and historical data to specific workers.

Real-Time Visibility + More

By their very nature, remote workforces leave safety managers disconnected from what’s happening on the job. So, what’s a disconnected and physically distant safety manager to do in the event of an unsafe incident, especially when every second counts?

While technology tools can be a big help, they are not, in and of themselves, enough to keep workers safe and worksites productive. Instead, what’s needed is an integrated and connected solution that works across the organization and in conjunction with its many processes.

That’s where the ALTAIR io 4 Gas Detection Wearable and MSA Grid can really help drive safety, compliance, and accountability forward:

  • Actionable data: Lets you live-monitor workers across the organization’s entire footprint.
  • Situational awareness: Now you can quickly and easily know what is going on with whom, and where.
  • Proactive event management: This helps safety managers act immediately when every second matters.
  • Over-the-air updates: This enables automatic, cloud-based delivery of the latest safety and detection features.
  • Rugged and robust: ALTAIR io 4 devices have military-grade durability, IP68 rating, and survive a-foot drop test. Plus, industry-leading XCell® sensors enable faster response time.

If you’re ready to streamline operations, improve performance, and achieve safety goals, schedule a discovery meeting with one of our connected solutions experts.

How to Overcome the Top Safety Challenges: A Day in the Life with the ALTAIR io™ 4 Gas Detection Wearable

When you work on a challenging jobsite where worker safety is the top priority, gas detection is critical. So critical, in fact, that it´s everyone’s job to make sure the day’s work gets done and that all go home safely at shift’s end.

It’s a big responsibility that can have more than its share of challenges. First, in your line of work, no two days at the office, on the jobsite, or in the field are ever truly alike. Second, workplace injuries can and do occur because traditional PPE doesn’t always help protect against human error. Third and finally, compliance becomes an issue without proper due diligence and worker accountability.

No wonder it’s problematic and demanding on your time. You must manage all these potential issues, while also maximizing productivity, minimizing incidents, and keeping things rolling smoothly along.

Fortunately, technology can help by enabling organizations like yours to get connected and stay protected.

So, if you’ve ever wondered how technology can make a profound difference in the way the workday starts and ends, please keep reading.

Connected Work: A Day in the Life

This is the story of Safety Manager Stephan and Industrial Worker Will, featuring a behind-the-scenes look at a day in their life. Here, you’ll see how the MSA Connected Work Platform driven by the ALTAIR io 4 Gas Detection Wearable helps to simplify safety, curb risk, and boost productivity.


It’s 6:45 am, and Safety Stephan awaits the arrival of Worker Will and the other shift workers. As they make their way over to the fleet of gas detectors to get ready for the start of the work shift, Stephan is feeling both confident and relaxed. That’s because he knows he has a fully connected gas detection fleet to help workers stay connected, safe, and productive.

The ALTAIR io 4 devices are rugged enough to withstand whatever the day throws at his workers. In addition, each device is assigned to a worker, helping to drive accountability and compliance.

With the MSA id Tag – an RFID tagging system – devices are assigned to workers without infrastructure, time-consuming manual processes, or clipboard sign ins. Plus, the device lockout feature ensures that no worker can use a non-compliant device.

Stephan does not have to oversee traditional check-in and check-out procedures or manage the fleet’s inventory.

Start of Shift

At 7:00 am, Will and his coworkers head over to the ALTAIR io Dock station to grab their ALTAIR io 4 Gas Detection Wearables. Thanks to the MSA id Tag, each device has already been assigned. This promotes accountability and compliance of use. It also ties all of the real-time and historical data to each individual worker.

Will and the others aren’t losing productive work time waiting around for a time-consuming check-in process. Instead, they’re starting their shift faster and with a lot less hassle. And because the MSA id Tag digitally assigns a device to each worker or contractor for the day, Will knows that the responsibility for his own safety and his device belongs him and no one else. That’s a win-win for safety compliance and accountability!

Before getting to work, Will and the rest of the crew perform a bump or calibration test using the automated io Dock test system. Because this testing station automatically selects and runs the appropriate test when needed, compliance is streamlined and potential human error is eliminated.

With the ALTAIR io 4 device, everything is automatically connected to MSA Grid cloud-based software. That means safety teams have full visibility into what matters. Plus, it means that workers, worksites, and workflows are integrated for a more productive day and more efficient safety management. For example, when an ALTAIR io 4 device has been bump tested or calibrated, it flashes a green LED light to indicate that the device is compliant and ready to go. The green LED light will turn yellow to indicate detector non-compliance.


Even while juggling the meetings and events of the day, Stephan stays logged into the MSA Grid so he can live-monitor the workers across his organization’s entire footprint. Thanks to being connected, Stephan can quickly and easily know what is going on, be made aware of any concerns, and stay informed so he can take appropriate action. Besides visibility through the MSA Grid software, Stephan can spot non-compliant devices from a distance while walking on-site, thanks to the safe LED functionality on every ALTAIR io 4 device.

Everyone’s been trained to know what the LED colors mean:

  • Green means the device is compliant.
  • Yellow means the device is non-compliant and needs attention.
  • Red means the device is in alarm due to a gas hazard and the person or persons on-site should evacuate.

This functionality provides visibility for safety teams and co-workers on-site and safety managers off-site and helps to create a culture of safety.


It’s 12:00 pm, and the workers are still in the field when Stephan receives a man down alarm on the MSA Grid software. With full visibility and event live monitoring, he can manage the ongoing event from a distance and act fast when seconds count.

First, Stephan attempts to contact the worker to see if he or she is responding. Stephan gets no response from the worker, which means he must dispatch an emergency response team. Because the ALTAIR io 4 Gas Detection Wearable and Grid software give Stephan the exact information of the exposure and the worker’s location, he immediately evacuates other workers in the area and activates the rescue team. Good news: The worker returns to work unharmed.

Stephan then uses the MSA Grid to quickly document the incident and to take notes to improve his safety procedures. Doing so gives him peace of mind because he knows that every necessary detail for this event has been captured, the information can be accessed later if needed, and his safety program is stronger, thanks to the insights he received from the Grid.

Early Afternoon

It’s 2:30 pm, Will and the other workers continue to perform their tasks, and everyone stays protected with compliant and connected gas detection devices.

Meanwhile, Stephen has full visibility and location awareness of his fleet of detectors. He continues using the MSA Grid for full awareness of fleet compliance, reporting, io Dock test stand calibration monitoring, and more. In fact, with the Fleet Manager dashboard he can see any compliance issues, battery warning, test stand and calibration gas concerns, enabling him to be proactive towards fleet management. Again, he’s able to act quickly, recalling the worker and issuing another device to ensure that everyone stays safe and protected.

End of Shift

It’s 4 pm, the workday is over and the entire crew has returned safely. Will is able to quickly place his assigned ALTAIR io 4 device in the charger. This automatic check-out process returns the device to the fleet so there are no lost devices for Stephan to be concerned about and no interaction required of Will. De-assignment is automatically and securely completed.

The Best Part of the Day

Both Stephan and Will consider the ALTAIR io 4 Gas Detection Wearable and Grid software as greater step towards a culture of safety. For Stephan, the advanced technologies help increase worker accountability, streamline compliance, close the loop on his fleet management responsibilities, and, most importantly, ensure the safety of his crew.

For Will, the ALTAIR io 4 gives him the confidence to do his job safely, effectively, and efficiently.

For you, the ALTAIR io 4 could give you the real-time visibility you need for a world-class safety program – without the need for upfront capital expenditures. See it for yourself with this brief video demo.

Wastewater Treatment: Why Monitoring Wet Wells Is Crucial to Staying Compliant with NFPA Code 820

Dirty, hazardous jobs are all in a day’s work for wastewater treatment plants. But just because odors and hazards are commonplace, doesn’t mean safety and facilities managers get a pass on prioritizing worker safety.

Of course, safety must be taken seriously by limiting worker exposure to hydrogen sulfide (H2S), methane (CH4), carbon monoxide (CO), and other hazardous gases.

But is your facility doing everything it can to ensure compliance with NFPA Code 820? Specifically, is it effectively monitoring wet wells for potentially lethal (and often invisible) combustible gases?

What are wet wells?

Pump stations are home to wet wells, which are large, open holding tanks in which wastewater is pumped from municipal sewer lines and held prior to treatment. It is here that heavier solids are left to sink to the bottom while lighter solids float to the top for removal before the remaining wastewater is pumped for secondary treatment.

Naturally occurring combustible and toxic gases are ever present in varying quantities during this process. Though typically invisible, these gases can emit a pungent or “rotten egg” odor that’s often deceiving in terms of their potentially lethal nature for both combustibility and toxicity.

Combustible and toxic gas detectors can be used to alert system operators whenever the intensity of these noxious gases intensify to the point of being a serious fire hazard or respiratory threat to workers.

Additionally, the wet wells environment also holds the potential to create oxygen (O2) deficiency conditions, especially in confined spaces; yet another reason to employ fixed gas detectors within these areas.

Why NFPA Code 820 Matters

NFPA Code 820 is a standard for fire protection in wastewater treatment and collection facilities, including pumping stations, chemical- and sludge-handling facilities, and ancillary structures. The standard is designed to protect life, property, operations, and the environment from fire and explosion hazards.

At a minimum, NFPA 820 requirements include:1

  • Reducing or eliminating the effects of a fire or explosion
  • Maintaining the structural integrity
  • Controlling flame spread and smoke generation
  • Preventing the release of toxic products of combustion
  • Ensuring serviceability and operation of the facility

The standard specifically calls out three separate process areas related to combustible gases:

  1. Collection Areas
  2. Liquid Streams
  3. Solids Treatment

Wet well monitoring falls under the Liquid Streams process area of the standard. In general, the standard for this process area requires a variety of fire protection materials, including a combustible gas detection (CGD) system. Please see the current edition of NFPA 820 for the exact details for combustible gas detection monitoring, including the Liquid Streams process area of the standard.

Non-Compliance Issues

System operators and safety managers may want to conduct an audit of their treatment plants and pump stations in order to identify potential areas of non-compliance, such as these:

  • Equipment not rated for use in a hazardous area
  • Lack of explosion-proof equipment rated for hazardous atmosphere
  • Inadequate ventilation and ventilation monitoring
  • Lack of sealing fittings that prevent migration of gases and spread of flame
  • No combustible gas detection (CGD) products

Maintaining Compliance with a Combustible Gas Detection System

NFPA 820 is explicit in its recommendation for CGD sensors in pumping stations and other areas of a wastewater treatment facility, including wet wells, and defines CGD as follows:

3.3.12 Combustible Gas Detector. A gas detector used to detect the presence of flammable vapors and gases and to warn when concentrations in air approach the explosive range.

To  better protect pumping stations and wet well areas against hazards while helping ensure NFPA 820 compliance, plant operators will want to consider installing an integrated CGD product like the MSA TriGas Monitoring System.

The TriGas Monitoring System enables operators to monitor and detect oxygen, hydrogen sulfide, and combustible gases (methane or petroleum vapors). Plus, it’s ideal for harsh, high-moisture environments and areas subject to flooding, such as wet wells. This system is available in a wall-mounted NEMA 4X fiberglass or stainless-steel enclosure to include combustibles, H2S and Ogas monitors, sample pump and end-line filter, power supply and alarming system to include buzzer and strobe light.


Additional Applications

When it comes to NFPA Code 820 compliance it is absolutely critical to monitor wastewater treatment plant wells for combustible gases. Failing to do so could result in a tragic accident or catastrophic consequences, including loss of life.

“MSA is a safety leader in gas detection,” says Tim Wolk, MSA Safety’s Municipal Market Sales Manager. “We, along with our many suppliers and partners offer combustible and toxic gas monitoring systems that meet or exceed the requirements of NFPA 820. Chances are, if you have a gas detection problem, we can solve it.”

To learn more about keeping your employees, equipment, and facilities safe by staying NFPA 820 compliant, download Monitoring Wet Wells for Combustible and Toxic Gases to Meet NFPA Code 820. This free article also includes detailed information on the various gases and their potential effects on worker well-being.


[1] Wolk, Tim. NFPA 820 Guidelines for Combustible Gas Detection with MSA.” YouTube, uploaded by Dave Heiner Associates, Inc, 10 December 2020,

Occupational Health & Safety 2022 New Product of the Year Awards: Three MSA Products Recognized

Three MSA products were recognized with Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) magazine’s 14th annual New Product of the Year Awards in various categories:

This year’s contest attracted entries in 31 award categories, with an independent panel of highly
qualified judges choosing the winners.

“The world is entering into the new phase of the pandemic, one where supply chain shortages and economic challenges threaten innovation. However, it appears these hurdles are not changing the way the safety industry continues to show up with new products and solutions that keep employees safe,” OH&S editor Sydny Shepard said. “Each year, the New Product of the Year award program shines a light on the future of the industry, and after seeing the winners of this year’s contest, it’s easy to say that the future is a bright one indeed.”

To stay up to date with the latest industry trends, resources, and product news, subscribe to the Spotlight on Safety blog.

Using Layers of Protection for Ethylene Safety

Widely available and transportable, ethylene gas (C2H4) is becoming a preferred resource around the world. Its versatility makes it suitable for a variety of applications ranging from power generation to plastics manufacturing.

In fact, ethylene is so widely used that it’s been dubbed one of the world’s most important chemicals with approximately 200 million tons produced each year.1,2 In the United States, 95% of ethylene gas is produced in the Gulf Coast.3

But where is all this ethylene gas safely kept until it’s needed? Most is stored in underground caverns as a pressurized liquid.

There are, however, some things to know about safe underground storage, including how to monitor underground storage caverns for potential gas leaks.

How does underground ethylene storage work?

Perhaps the best and easiest way to explain underground ethylene gas storage is through a real-world case study.

Here’s how underground ethylene storage looks from the vantage point of one of our customers: a major pipeline company in the Gulf Coast who built ethylene leaching caverns to store and transport locally produced ethylene.

  • The customer created a series of underground storage caverns by leaching out deep, thick layers of rock salt. (According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, salt domes are ideal for this application due to their dry, geologically stable nature.4)
  • To create the caverns, they injected water to dissolve the salt, extracting the resulting brine to make room for the ethylene to be stored.
  • Then, they filled the cavern with the ethylene, where it stays until it’s needed.
  • To extract the ethylene, the customer pumps the reusable brine back into the cavern to force the ethylene. This works well because the brine and ethylene are of different compositions, so they don’t mix.
  • Above the cavern sits other necessary equipment used in processing, including injection pumps, dehydrators, Coriolis meters, scrubbers, and meter runs.

Why is monitoring for gas leaks so important?

Storing ethylene in underground caverns is ideal because these caverns can hold very large quantities of the substance. The challenge with underground storage, however, is that it needs to be monitored for ethylene and ethane gas leaks – and not just from underground within the caverns, but also from all of the above-ground equipment.

Although both ethylene and ethane are on the U.S. government’s list of hazardous materials,5 there are reliable gas detection technologies that can make the job safer and easier.

In the case of our Gulf Coast customer, the MSA solution includes multiple layers of technologies using these MSA products:

Gas Detection Technologies: Laser vs. Infrared

Now you may be wondering why a laser technology was chosen as part of the solution. That’s because lasers have some distinct advantages over traditional non-dispersive infrared (NDIR) technologies, including:

  • Not affected by cross interferent gases
  • More uptime in adverse weather conditions
  • Higher detection sensitivity
  • Requires no maintenance or consumable parts

However, in the case of our Gulf Coast customer, there’s one advantage that’s even more important:

The ELDS laser is gas-specific to ethylene.


MSA’s Senscient ELDS employs Tunable Diode Lasers within its range of open path gas detectors. Featuring four unique harmonics, the laser measures the amplitude of the harmonics to give specificity without absorbing any water vapor.

ELDS (enhanced laser diode spectroscopy) instruments are best suited for gas monitoring along a property fence line, boundary, or in linear rows of equipment such as pumps, valves, and storage tanks.

In brief, here’s how ELDS gas detectors work:

  • ELDS is an open-path, non-contact method of detecting specific toxic or flammable gases
  • When a gas cloud of interest intersects the ELDS transmitter’s laser beam, the ELDS receiver module measures the wavelengths of light absorbed
  • It then performs a Fourier-transform spectroscopic analysis to identify concentration of the target gas
ELDS ethylene pipeline run

Using ‘Layers of Protection’ to Enhance Safety

As we’ve said, when it comes to underground ethylene storage, the risk of combustible or toxic gas release is a definite and significant hazard.  The potential for serious propagation of fire or explosion increases when flammable liquid or gas storage tank farms, pipeline compressors, or fuel transfer loading terminals are located nearby.

The impact of such an event could result in tragic loss of life, injury, damage to equipment and operations, as well as have adverse effects on surrounding communities and the environment. Which is why we recommend a layered approach to fixed gas and flame detection (FGFD).

The layered approach to safety factors in the unique characteristics of the facility; namely tightly placed equipment, piping, and tanks, as well as any outdoor equipment that may be exposed to inclement weather and temperature extremes.

It also accounts for the fact that no single gas or flame sensing technology can work for every application or location. The layered approach not only enhances worker and facility safety, it also helps improve overall availability.

The Layered Approach in the Real World

MSA’s Senscient ELDS™ lasers were installed on our Gulf Coast customer’s ethylene injection pumps, as well as on their ethylene metering runs for a total of five systems.

Because their pumps and metering runs are relatively short, the ethylene lasers are 5 to 40 meters with a 0-1 LEL.m range.

We also installed two Observer-i ultrasonic gas leak detectors around the other ethane pumps, and twelve Ultima X5000 XIR Plus point detectors around the dehydrators, scrubbers, and any remaining injection pumps.

UGLD pump install
X5000 IR Tank Monitoring


By combining next-generation point, zone, and perimeter hazard sensing technologies with proper notification, control, mitigation, and communications systems, we provided our customer with layers of sophisticated, effective protection designed to significantly reduce the possibility of accidental gas leaks and fire ignition events.

To learn more about our advanced gas detection technologies or to schedule a demo, contact us today.


[1] org. “Ethylene: The ‘World’s Most Important Chemical.” Accessed 27 July 2022,

[2] South Carolina College of Engineering and Computing. “Producing ethylene through a more environmentally safe process.” Accessed 27 July 2022,

[3] gov. “U.S. Department of Energy Ethane Storage and Distribution Hub in the United States.” Accessed 27 July 2022,

[4] S. Department of Transportation. “Fact Sheet: Underground Storage Caverns.” Accessed 27 July 2022,

[5] National Archives. “Code of Federal Regulations, 49 CFR 172.101 Hazardous Materials Table.” Accessed 27 July 2022,

OSHA Civil Penalty Fees for 2022

The penalty fees for OSHA violations have been amended annually since enactment of the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015, as the United States Department of Labor has explained.¹

The annual increases are based on the national consumer cost of living computations for the previous year. This is designed to avoid the penalty increases appearing arbitrary.

When the U.S. Department of Labor released the increase for 2022 – that all penalties are multiplied by 1.06222, which is the cost-of-living adjustment multiplier for 2022 based on the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers for October 2021 – the announcement/memorandum explained that:

“The cost-of-living adjustment multiplier for 2022, based on the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers for October 2021 (not seasonally adjusted), is 1.06222. To compute the 2022 annual adjustment, the Department multiplied the most recent penalty amount for each applicable penalty by the multiplier, 1.06222, and rounded to the nearest dollar. The adjustment factor of 1.06222 is consistent across the minimum and maximum penalties set forth in the Occupational Safety and Health Act and the FOM.”

It is too early to know what the multiplier will be for 2023 but this index has shown increases larger than 1.06 % so far in 2022.  For example, the June 2022 version of this index increased 1.3% seasonally adjusted and its “all items index increased 9.1 percent [over the previous 12 months] before seasonal adjustment.”²

The Minimums and Maximums for 2022

Based on that multiplier, OSHA listed penalty amounts and ranges for 2022 in memorandum tables that  are available in the OSHA Information Systems.  OSHA uses 2 tables that characterize violations in different ways: (1) the penalty maximum and minimum range is based on OSHA’s assessment of the type of violation or its severity and (2) the penalty amount within a range is based on OSHA’s assessment of the gravity of the penalty, also known as GBP or “Gravity Based Penalty.”

First, Table 1 below shows the penalty ranges based on type of violation or severity for civil penalties in 2022.

It also contains the following note under the table: For a repeated other-than-serious violation that otherwise would have no initial penalty, a GBP penalty of $414 shall be proposed for the first repeated violation, $1,036 for the second repeated violation, and $2,072 for a third repetition.

Second, OSHA publishes GBP tables for each type of violation that is listed in Table 1.  For example, Table 2 indicates the GBP within the range of serious violations.

The GBP for serious violations is calculated by taking the severity of the violation and adding it to OSHA’s assessment of the probability of injury, death, or damage.  In sum, a high gravity violation has a GBP of $14,502. For a moderate gravity violation, the GBP ranges from $8,287 to $12,431, and a low gravity violation has a GBP of $6,215.

One resource with additional information – including the criteria and guidance for how OSHA assesses violations and determines fees – is OSHA’s Field Operations Manual (“FOM”).³  This manual contains OSHA’s internal “information and guidance” to its own offices regarding its “policy and procedures for implementing inspections, issuing citations proposing penalties.”

The FOM contains additional guidelines for determining civil penalties. According to OSHA, these penalties are intended as more of a deterrent to, rather than a punishment for violations.

So, what are the most common OSHA violations found in the workplace?

OSHA’s Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Workplace Violations for Fiscal 2021

Last fall, OSHA announced a preliminary report of its Top 10 most frequently cited violations for fiscal year 2021.4 Once again, for the 11th year in a row, fall protection tops the list. Here are the top violations, in order of frequency:

  1. Fall Protection – General Requirements (1926.501): 5,295 violations
  2. Respiratory Protection (1910.134): 2,527 violations
  3. Ladders (1926.1053): 2,026 violations
  4. Scaffolding (1926.451): 1,948 violations
  5. Hazard Communication (1910.1200): 1,947 violations
  6. Lockout/Tagout (1910.147): 1,698 violations
  7. Fall Protection – Training Requirements (1926.503): 1,666 violations
  8. Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment – Eye and Face Protection (1926.102): 1,452 violations
  9. Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178): 1,420 violations
  10. Machine Guarding (1910.212): 1,113 violations

The Keys to Compliance are Education, Prevention, and Protection

A driving force behind any safety program should be the health and well-being of employees. Some key factors in those programs are: education, prevention, and protection, which can be the subjects of multi-day trainings and seminars.  Here are a couple reminders.

  • Education and training are so important that OSHA devotes quite a few of its online resources to those topics. You can find information concerning the OSHA Training Standards Policy Statement here. OSHA also provides assistance to employers in developing their programs and training.
  • Prevention can be accomplished multiple ways, and often involves safety walkthroughs to identify potential hazards and develop plans of action to mitigate them. Additionally, some equipment can monitor certain situations that could become dangerous. For example, portable and wearable gas detectors and other equipment such as flame detectors should be a part of certain safety programs, to help protect workers and worksites.
  • Appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for the circumstance and setting is also critical to safety and compliance.

PPE Options for Top OSHA Violations

The number one listed OSHA violation for the past 11 years is fall protection. Supplying workers with personal fall protection equipment for their circumstances and setting, such as harnesses, self-retracting lanyards (SRLs), and horizontal lifelines is crucial when team members work at heights. Keep in mind that lifelines used on areas like rooftops require a specifically designed construction for working near edges.

Coming in at number two on OSHA’s list is respiratory protection. Self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) and full or half-mask elastomeric respirators provide protection from certain inhalation hazards, such as fumes, mists and gases.

Eye and face protection ranked eighth on the Top 10 list. Head protection, hearing protection, and eye protection are often accomplished together as a package or assembly, with hard hats as the supporting piece for the others. For crew members that work in direct sunlight with potentially high temperatures, hard hats that feature thermal barrier technology can help keep the inside of the hard hat cooler and help prevent heat-related illnesses.

To make sure you’re staying up-to-date with these and other OSHA guidelines, standards updates, and resources and tips about PPE, safety, and compliance, subscribe to the MSA blog  here.






What is the Difference Between Type 1 and Type 2 Hard Hats?

All industrial protective hard hats are either Type 1 or Type 2 based on ANSI and CSA standards for impact resistance and direction. A hard hat can only have one designation for impact properties. There is no in-between according to these standards.

What is the ANSI standard?

The American National Standard for Industrial Head Protection, ANSI Z89.1-2014, provides industrial hard hat performance and testing requirements, and establishes types and classes of protective helmets to provide employers with hard hat options that provide appropriate protection for hazards present in a given workplace.

ANSI Z89.1-2014 was prepared by members of the International Safety Equipment Association’s (ISEA) Head Protection Group as a revision to the 2009 edition and approved by a consensus review panel comprised of technical experts, unions, construction industry and other user groups, test labs, and certification and government agencies.

What Is a Type 1 Hard Hat?

Type 1 hard hats based on ANSI and CSA standards are designed to reduce force as a result of an impact to ONLY the top of the head.

There are four specific performance requirements for Type 1 hard hats:


No flame can be visible for five seconds after removing the test flame from the hard hat surface.

Force transmission

A single hard hat must not transmit force to the test head form exceeding 1,000 pounds of force. Conditioned hard hats (hot, cold, and ambient) shall be averaged, and the average cannot exceed 850 pounds of force to the test head form.

Apex penetration

The penetrator cannot make contact with the top of the head form.

Electrical classification (Class G, Class E, or Class C)

Class G and Class E hard hats must meet appropriate performance requirements:

  • Class G to withstand 2,200 volts for one minute. Maximum leakage shall not exceed three milliamperes.
  • Class E to withstand 20,000 volts for three minutes after impact. Maximum leakage shall not exceed nine milliamperes.

Class C hard hats are not tested for electrical insulation.

What Is a Type 2 Hard Hat?

Type 2 hard hats based on ANSI and CSA standards are designed to reduce force as a result of an impact to the front, back, sides, AND top of the head.

In addition to the four performance requirements of a Type 1 hard hat, Type 2 performance contains three additional requirements:

Impact energy attenuation

Hard hat is dropped onto a spherical object at various angles around the hard hat, above a designated test line.

Off-center penetration

A penetrator is dropped vertically, and the hard hat is rotated at different angles above a designated test line. The penetrator cannot contact the head form.

Chinstrap retention (optional)

If a Type 2 hard hat is provided with a chin strap, chin strap must be tested for retention, must remain attached to the hard hat and must not stretch beyond one inch in length.

What Options are Available for Type 1 and Type 2 Hard Hats?

Solutions are available from MSA in both Type 1 and Type 2 hard hats

Type 1 options consist of V-Gard® Caps and Hats. This includes the V-Gard C1 ™ Hard Hat, which features ReflectIR™ Thermal Barrier technology to keep the inside of the hat up to 20°F cooler, and the V-Gard H1 Safety Helmet, which provides exceptional comfort and ease-of-use with a low-profile design.

Additional Type 1 solutions from MSA include: SmoothDome® and Thermalgard® Caps, Topgard® and Skullgard® Caps and Hats, Comfo-Cap® Hard Hats, and Nexus Climbing Helmets.

Type 2 options from MSA are Super V® Helmets, which feature a foam liner with integrated Fas-Trac® suspension and are slotted for use with MSA accessories.

What makes EN397:2021 and EN12492:2012 approvals different?

When choosing an industrial hard hat, it’s important to understand how European standards for impact and penetration testing compare to those for US and Canada.

EN397 testing requirements for industrial hard hats are similar to those for ANSI and CSA Type 1. It is focused on top impact ONLY for industrial use. MSA solutions with EN397 approval include V-Gard H1 NoVent and BiVent Safety Helmets.

EN12492 testing requirements provide a slightly larger top impact zone for mountaineering and climbing helmets; while EN12492 helmets provide additional top impact protection when compared to ANSI Type 1 hard hats, the standard is NOT equivalent to ANSI Type 2, as it does not provide the same lateral protection that a Type 2 helmet provides. Prior to selecting a hard hat, be sure that it meets the appropriate protection requirements for your application. If lateral protection is required, the helmet MUST be certified as Type 2. MSA ‘s solution for EN12492 requirements is the V-Gard H1 TriVent Safety Helmet.

What to Look for Before Using a Hard Hat?

Whether your job requires a Type 1 or Type 2 hard hat, it’s important to inspect your PPE prior to each use and throughout the day. Damage can occur without notice and compromise the protection capabilities. Any hard hat that’s been struck severely should be immediately removed from service and replaced. Even if it looks to be in good condition, hairline cracks that you can’t see will affect its integrity. Also, keep in mind that hard hat suspensions should be replaced on an annual basis.

Download this guide for quick reference about Type 1 and Type 2 hard hats.