Since the Covid-19 health crisis developed into a worldwide pandemic, personal protective equipment has been thrust into the spotlight. It is heavily in demand and a legal requirement that businesses and organizations have adequate supplies in order to stay open or reopen as restrictions are eased. Many manufacturers and suppliers are pushed to the limits trying to meet demands.
At Givenly.com, we can help ensure you have the personal protective equipment you need to keep your workforce and any customers and other visitors to your premises safe. Do you really need PPE though? In this post, we look at what personal protective equipment is and why it is so important.
What Is PPE or Personal Protective Equipment?
Simply put, PPE or Personal Protective Equipment is any equipment that provides protection in a workplace against risks to their own health and safety and of those around them. It comes in many forms, including:
- Eye and face protection, safety goggles and glasses, visors, face shields, and face screens
- Ear plugs and earmuffs
- Safety gloves, gauntlets, gloves with cuffs
- Hard hats, helmets, and hairnets
- Hi-Vis (High-Visibility) clothing
- Safety footwear, such as boots and shoes
- Respiratory equipment
- Disposable and conventional overalls, chemical (Haz-Mat) suits and boiler suits
The above list is by no means exhaustive and depending on the industry you are operating in and the different kinds of risks your employees face, you may require specific PPE not outlined above.
Why is Personal Protective Equipment So Important?
It is your duty as an employer to make sure that your employees are protected from all potential hazards and risks that they face on a day to day basis. It is crucial that you not only provide the right equipment and that it is high quality, but that you provide, full instructions, training, strict procedures, and supervision on how to use it properly.
It doesn’t matter if you have practiced thorough risk assessment and taken the appropriate safety measures to prevent accidents, there many other accidents that could happen. Particularly when personal protective equipment is not used.
Hazards and risks exist in all industries and can result in injuries ranging from minor through to severe and even fatal. Personal Protective Equipment is your employees’ last line of protection. Therefore, you need to choose the right PPE.
How Do You Know What Personal Protective Equipment to Use and When?
Deciding to invest in personal protective equipment is just the first part of the process. You need to understand what the right PPE is for your employees and when it should be used. As well as knowing what they should be wearing, your team needs to be fully trained to use it, know how to assess it, and find faults and inform the relevant superiors.
Ask the following questions, to help you choose the best PPE:
- What employees are at risk and what are they at risk of being exposed to?
- How long are they going to be exposed?
- How much are they going to be exposed to?
These questions can be helpful for identifying what from the dizzying variety of personal protective equipment your employees need. When different pieces of PPE need to be used at the same time, it is essential it can all be worn at the same time without impeding the effectiveness of any.
Who is Your Business Is Responsible for Personal Protective Equipment?
As an employer, it is you that is responsible for ensuring that your workforce all have access to and correctly wear the right PPE. You are not allowed to surcharge your employees so that you can provide them with this protective equipment.
However, it is also vital that your employees take responsibility for the safety and welfare of themselves and their colleagues. They need to wear the appropriate PPE correctly and in line with the instructions and guidelines you’ve provided them with. You need to ensure that they have been fully trained in all aspects of using PPE, including how to return it correctly.Only members of staff who have been trained and authorized to do so should carry out maintenance, whether its repairs or cleaning, on it. When employees don’t wear PPE at all or do it incorrectly, they are not only putting themselves at risk but also potentially putting other members of the workforce and members of the public (depending on the type of business you operate) at risk. Not only that, but they could be breaching health and safety regulations.
Importance of Personal Protective Equipment Training
As there are both right and wrong ways to wear personal protective equipment and the consequences of not using it appropriately are serious, it is vital your staff are fully trained to use it. You need to make a point of doing the following:
- Explaining why they need PPE
- When they need to use it
- How they use it
- Any limitations associated with wearing it that they should be aware of
They need to learn that there are no exceptions or exemptions. Even jobs that don’t take very long to complete, should only be undertaken with the right personal protective equipment being used.
If this is all new to you, either because you have been lax in the past or have only recently established your business, you need to create a culture within your company where wearing and using PPE is the norm.
If there is one thing that the global pandemic has taught us all is that we can’t be complacent when it comes to health and safety. Even if in the past you have tried to cut corners and save a little money by skipping on hairnets, safety gloves, and other important forms of personal protective equipment for your employees, you won’t be able to do that anymore.
You need to take it seriously, especially as the lives of your workers and any customers, clients, and contractors who frequent your work premises could be at stake.