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Clear and Present Danger

PPE is a central part of protection during high-risk activities and includes any appliance worn in order to reduce workplace risks. Everybody is aware of this. Employers always supply appropriate PPE. Employees always wear it. Right? Sadly not!

Despite the apparent dangers, how often do you see workers not wearing PPE or employers not providing the correct equipment? The answer is far too often.

Employee workplace safety usually falls within the responsibility of the company’s safety management team. While they may be aware that specific PPE should be supplied to workers, applicable laws and industry best practices should also be taken into consideration. This seems like basic knowledge, but as an employer, are you aware of the appropriate PPE needed by your workforce?

OSHA's final rule on personal protective equipment (PPE) for general industry was published on April 6, 1994 (59 FR 16334), and became effective July 5, 1994. The PPE standards require the employer to assure that each employee wears appropriate equipment which protects the eyes, head, feet, and hands, from exposure to hazards in the workplace. Section 1910.132 clearly states that where such hazards are present, or are likely to be present, the employer has the obligation both to select proper PPE and to require each affected employee to wear it.

Employers must understand the risks involved in every single role within their company. They must then provide suitable PPE to their workforce, when there is a risk to health and safety that cannot be adequately controlled by other means. It isn’t just a case of supplying the correct PPE, employers must do more than simply have the equipment on the premises. Workers must have adequate training and the equipment readily available, or at the very least, have clear instructions on where it can be found.

What else can be done?

Employers should take steps to educate and train employees so they can fully understand the consequences of not wearing PPE.

When faced with workers who refuse to use PPE, it’s important to find out why.

  • Is it uncomfortable?
  • Does it impact on their ability to carry out their duties?
  • Does it restrict movement?
  • Is it awkward or too heavy?

The HSE say the main reasons for employees not using PPE include:

  • Little/no supervision
  • Lack of procedure
  • Poor awareness/risk perception
  • Human error/misjudgement

Although workers sometimes refuse to wear PPE for religious or health reasons, most refusals are due to poor management, communication and training. If workers do not understand why PPE is needed or have no say in choosing it, they are more likely to not use it. Continuing to monitor and review PPE is essential to ensuring it’s successful. Talk to your workforce and ensure it’s still fit for purpose.

New technology allows for more advanced PPE

Typically, when thinking of PPE equipment, wearables such as aprons, dust masks, ear muffs, glasses/goggles, gloves, hard hats or shoes most likely come to mind, however, there are also many wearable PPE pieces that implement technology for a more advanced form of protection, including the SoloProtect ID.

This device uses technology to protect lone workers from both social and environmental risks by allowing employees to discreetly raise an alert, at the possibility of danger, with the touch of a button. In order to be discreet, it’s designed as an identity card holder, is easy to use and is the first lone worker device on the market that utilizes both A-GNSS (Assisted GNSS) and Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) technology.

Click here to find out more.

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