It can be tough to know where to start when it comes to choosing the right protective clothing and safety equipment for your workers. Incidents and accidents in the workplace can often be attributed to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) not being used. At times though, it can be that the wrong protective clothing or equipment was chosen for the job, or inadequate supervision and user error meant it wasn’t properly worn in the first place.
Sourcing the right protective clothing for your workforce is vital. Here are some of the questions you should be asking about PPE to ensure your workforce is protected while carrying out their duties.
Question 1: What is the level of risk or hazard?
The first step for any health and safety professional should always be to assess the hazard. Conducting a risk assessment is about identifying potential risks and hazards to safety of personnel in the course of performing their work, assessing the extent of those risks (who could be harmed and how) and then implementing measures to eliminate or reduce that risk.
Where risk cannot be eliminated at source, PPE may be required to reduce the risks to workers. If, for example, there is a risk of hand injury, you need to source appropriate protective work and safety gloves. Where debris and dust is an issue respiratory protection, safety goggles and eyewear will be needed. Or your workers may require height safety equipment. You may need to consider workers exposed to multiple risks, requiring several items of PPE. In this case it is paramount to ensure that all the items of PPE you select are compatible and will work correctly when used in conjunction with each other. For example, ear protection and safety helmets need to work together.
In any scenario, all risks need to be assessed and the appropriate PPE purchased and worn.
Question 2: How can I be sure the PPE I choose will be right for my workforce?
Once you’ve established what the risks are and that PPE is required, you need to know that it’s going to be fit-for-purpose not only for safety reasons but for long-lasting efficiency and comfort.
This is when you should talk to the experts. Every organisation’s requirements are different and it is only by taking expert advice and guidance on this crucial area of health and safety in the workplace that you can be assured you have the right protection. By talking to a safety solutions provider that is registered with the British Safety Industry Federation, the body that audits safety professionals, you will have access to PPE professionals who are able to make intelligent suggestions based on real experience, industry standards and expert knowledge.
In the world of PPE, it is definitely not the case that one size fits all. Protective gloves are a prime example. There are good reasons why there is such a vast range to choose from and it’s because they are each designed to protect against different hazards – heat resistant gloves, needlestick gloves, rigger leather and welding gloves, chemical handling gloves, food safe gloves and so on. Each glove is categorised and tested to performance standards.
Simply plumping for any old glove could either leave your workforce unprotected against the specific hazards of their job or land you with a bigger bill for this item of Personal Protective Equipment, because you have inadvertently bought a higher or incorrect spec glove to that required.
A PPE expert will first establish the risks that mean PPE protection is required – in the case of gloves, for example, they will determine if they are required to protect against cuts, extreme temperatures, chemicals or a combination of factors. They will then ascertain the level of dexterity required and any other factors that will help narrow the options to those best-suited for your workers and your budget.
Question 3: How do I take care of and maintain the PPE I buy and how long will it last?
As with any equipment that can save a life or prevent harm and injury to a person, it’s important to know the history of any item of PPE, to ensure the level of protection it can offer remains as high as it was on the day it was made.
Never take the risk of using second-hand equipment, unless you are guaranteed that it is still totally up to scratch.
Always store PPE according to the manufacturer’s instructions and thoroughly check that it is not worn or damaged before every use. At the first sign of wear or damage it is time to discard and replace it.
The friendly team of safety experts at Contego Safety Solutions is always on hand to give advice and guidance on the right PPE and protective clothing for your needs. Contact us now on 0800 122 3323 or email@example.com to discuss your requirements.
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