Safety Equipment


Learning objectives

4.11 List the safety equipment you’re likely to use when working in an attic.

4.12 Identify the kind of gloves worn to handle: large mammals, small mammals, birds, and snakes.

4.13 Know which government agency rates respirators.

If you’re running your own show, you can make personal decisions about whether or not to use certain precautions. But once you have ten employees, the government insists on certain standards that are enforced by OSHA regulations.

Gloves are an indispensable safety tool. The type needed depends on the situation, but disposable vinyl or latex gloves are the most versatile choice (some people are allergic to latex and must use vinyl). When applying certain chemicals, such as some pesticides, you may need to wear a specific type of gloves. You’ll probably want to keep a variety of gloves handy.

Lightweight leather work gloves are usually adequate for handling small birds and snakes. With larger birds and mammals, wear thick, leather gloves or gloves made with KevlarTM (the stuff in bulletproof vests), or perhaps even welder’s gloves. This is especially important if you think the mammal might be rabid, or if it’s agitated. Unfortunately, some carnivores can bite through the strongest gloves, and no glove can protect you from a crushing injury.

Although safety will probably be the most important factor when you choose gloves, there are other things to think about, too. For comfort, mobility, and out of kindness to the animal, select the lightest pair you can. Thick, heavy gloves make it harder to feel how the animal is responding to being handled, and may cause you to grasp it too tightly.

The smart, stylish NWCO wardrobe includes·              animal handling gloves (KevlarTM or heavy leather gauntlets)

·        disposable rubber or plastic gloves

·        protective eyewear, such as goggles

·        respirators and dust masks

·        disposable coveralls with hoods

·        disposable shoe covers

·        rubber boots

·        kneepads

·        helmet, safety ropes, harnesses (to connect to all the devices used to secure ladders)

Protective clothing can range from long-sleeved cotton shirts that help prevent scratches to disposable coveralls used in areas that could be contaminated with diseases, or when working with pesticides. (If you use pesticides, you’ll have to pay added attention to your clothing, including the way you launder it.)

Knee pads protect you while you’re crawling around in attics and crawlspaces.

Goggles or similar eye protection are important in many circumstances.

A specialized respirator will help protect you from inhaling such disease agents as fungal spores, viruses, and bacteria, but only if it fits properly. They’re good precautions if you’re in a disease hot spot (such as an attic, crawlspace, or an area near a large bat or bird roost) or if you are likely to disturb droppings or encounter contaminated soil or rodent nests.

There are many different kinds of respirators. Your choice will depend on many factors such as which disease you’re trying to avoid, whether or not you have a beard or mustache, how much weight you can carry, and how much mobility you need. One of the most versatile designs is the half-face respirator with filter. Look for a NIOSH-approved respirator (“NIOSH” stands for “National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.” It’s part of the CDC.) For the OSHA standards about respirators, check respirator.html.

Safety helmets range from “bump caps” to helmets with visors. Some helmet designs attach snuggly to the head to give added protection in case of a fall.

When you’re finished with your job, disinfect your gloves with a household or commercial disinfectant or a dilute bleach solution before you remove them. If the situation requires a respirator, keep it on until you’ve safely dealt with the rest of your clothing and gear. You may want to wear a respirator and goggles when you clean your truck, especially if you use a power washer, which could splash contaminants around.

Disposable clothing can be placed with other contami­nated materials and double-bagged for removal to a landfill or other approved disposal facility. Then wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap.

Another good general precaution is to tell your doctor about what you do for a living. This will alert your doctor to consider some of the wildlife-related diseases, which probably wouldn’t be considered otherwise.

Higher, deeper, further

  • Imagine you are about to hire an employee. List the safety equipment you’ll need to buy for that worker, and price it out.
  • Find a few options for additional training in the safe use of ladders and respirators. Pursue whichever educational opportunity you like best.
  • Attend an OSHA training program. They are some times offered by community colleges.


Before you move on to the next section, you may wish to review the learning objectives for this section:

  • 11 List the safety equipment you’re likely to use when working in an attic.
  • 12 Identify the kind of gloves worn to handle: large mammals, small mammals, birds, and snakes.
  • 13 Know which government agency rates respirators.