Workplaces are not free from hazards. Hazards can come in various forms like falling objects, electric sparks, sharp edges, chemicals, and so on. Employers need to ensure the safety of their employees by assessing and controlling the hazards. Engineering and work practice controls are two of the best ways to do it.
What is PPE? Unfortunately work practice control and engineering are not possible in every situation. Controlling and managing the hazards too can get a little difficult in certain conditions. In such cases, employers are supposed to supply personal protective equipments to keep their employees safe. These equipments, popularly known as PPEs are worn to reduce the exposure to the hazardous elements. Common examples of PPEs are gloves, earplugs, hard hats, muffs, body suits, protective eye wear, etc.
To ensure safety at the workplace, it is very important for both the employees as well as the employers to come together. The employer needs to conduct a “hazard assessment” to understand the potential risks at the workplace. After the assessment, he needs to provide suitable PPE. It is also his responsibility to train the employees in using the equipment. On the other hand, employees need to use the PPE properly to be safe. They also need to maintain the PPE and take good care of it. In case it needs to be repaired or replaced, the employees should inform his supervisor.
- Inadequate Assessment
One of the common mistakes while using personal protective equipment is the inadequate assessment of hazard. It is very important to carefully assess the workplace and find out all the possible hazards hidden there. Things to watch out for while assessing the workplace are chemical exposures, electrical hazards, sharp objects, equipment hazards, rough surfaces, respiratory hazards, light radiation etc.
- Insufficient Training
The training process should teach the employees the proper way to use the equipment. It should also guide them about the limitations of the equipment along with its inspection and removal. They should also be explained the correct way to maintain and dispose of it.
Another common mistake is not using the equipment because of discomfort. The employees need to understand that the equipment is aimed at protecting them from the hazards. They need to use it even if it is not too comfortable for them or even if they find it unattractive.
A survey revealed that lack of enforcement of the usage of PPE is one of the main reasons for employees for not using them. Employers need to adopt such policies where they can make sure that the employees are making proper use of PPE.
- Failure to Revisit the Policies
Polices related to safety and PPE need to be revised frequently. Outdated equipment, change in work method, the practice, and so on need to be taken into account for it.
Points to remember: PPEs are meant to protect you from workplace hazards. But you need to understand that they are not the first and the last solution. You need to use it properly to get complete protection from the hazard. Improper use of PPE is not going to save you completely from the hazards.