We all are aware that PPE is a requirement of the job.
However, there are a large majority of injuries and fatalities that could have been prevented through the use of using the proper PPE.
This is an important topic as Safe Work Australia had recorded 18 worker fatalities for the period from July to December 2015 in Queensland alone.
This is 18 deaths too many, ideally no one should get up in the morning, go to work, and never return home.
So how can we help ensure that workers return home safely at the end of every work day?
Through ensuring that we are providing workers with the proper PPE they need to reduce the risk of injury.
Ask yourself a question:
Are workers on your job site equipped with the proper PPE?
Let’s start out with thinking about what the proper PPE looks like for the individual worker.
According to the Queensland Government, specifically the Workplace Health and Safety Electrical Safety Office Workers’ Compensation Regulator you should consider the following factors when considering using PPE:
- Does it fit? With respiratory devices for example it’s important that it has a good facial fit for it to work properly;
- Is the PPE comfortable to wear and are workers able to try-it-on and make a choice based on their own comfort? If they have a choice they are more likely to use their PPE more often;
- Do workers have a special circumstance, for example wearing of prescription glasses, allergies such as latex allergy and some medical conditions that requires specialized PPE?
- Are there any medical conditions which can influence whether they can use certain items of equipment?
Another key factor after considering fit, and comfortability, is understanding which work tasks require PPE. Here are some key points that Queensland Workers Compensation has to say about PPE for specific work tasks:
- Match the PPE to the hazard, remembering that a work task may expose workers to more than one hazard. For example welders may need protection from harmful welding gases and fumes, as well as ultraviolet radiation, hot metal and sparks.
- How the work is carried out and the level of risk to the worker. For example a more protective respirator may need to worn where the level of air contamination is very high.
- How long PPE will need to be worn.
- Work demands of the work activity. For example the level of physical activity or dexterity required.
Make sure PPE that is to be worn at the same time can be used together.
Of course, these are guidelines, it’s up to the individual workers & companies to identify when and how they use PPE.
How can you ensure workers are using the proper PPE?
Provide Ongoing Training
Personal protective equipment is only useful when it is used correctly. If workers are unaware on how to properly use the PPE, they are at significant risk of injury and harm. Training is absolutely essential.
Provide Proper Signage
Signage on your job site that properly identifies the hazard and the proper PPE that should be used. We talk about proper signage in last week’s blog.
Provide The Proper Equipment
It’s the workers responsibility to ensure that they exercise safe and responsible use of PPE when required on the job site, however, it’s your responsibility to ensure that workers have access to the PPE that they need to keep themselves safe.
If there are hazards on the job site, make sure you regularly monitor workers for possible risks of injury and ensure that you promote an environment where everyone thinks of safety first.