Personal Protective Equipment Saves Lives So Use It!
Updated: May 4
I want to address personal protective equipment (PPE) and the fact that many workers 'forget' to use it.
What you need to understand about PPE is that it's the last line of defence against hazards. PPE is enforced when there is no other possible way to prevent injury and refusing to use it is putting you in harm's way. I have heard many excuses as to why workers don't want to wear their PPE; "It's too hot, it's too heavy, it's in the way and slowing me down." Granted, they're right. It's bulky and heavy. But it's better than receiving a life-changing injury, yeah? If there are requirements for personal protective equipment it's imperative that you use it. A lot of time and effort goes into conducting proper risk assessments and applying the correct control measures across the whole of a worksite. Your boss doesn't do it just for the sake of it, he or she does it to ensure that you are safe from harm while you're working for them. They don't just do it once, either!
The health and safety of workers is usually the top priority of a management team and they will continue to assess the workplace in an ongoing process to make sure all current and new risks are met, and all control measures are maintained or replaced where needed. And remember I said PPE is the last defence? So, when your manager or supervisor keeps telling you to put your safety glasses back on, they're doing it to protect you. Listen to them. It's also important to remember that you're responsible for your safety too. Not just through using the PPE provided for the purpose, but by reporting faulty, ill-fitting equipment or new hazards you think management may have missed in their assessments. Fault or ill-fitting personal protective equipment isn't going to protect you, it's going to potentially increase your risk of injury. I realise this sounds a little like a parent lecturing their child but it's important that everything fits properly. If it doesn't fit properly, it cannot protect you in the manner it was designed to. If some of your PPE doesn't fit, it's no good and you need to report and replace it. I've heard of people losing fingers and receiving some pretty horrific injuries because of ill-fitting gloves getting trapped in machinery. Finally, and probably most important. It's crucial that you realise that while PPE is there to protect you, it's only meant to protect a certain part of your body. Your safety glasses, for instance, only protect your eyes and not the rest of your face. Likewise, your gloves will only protect your hands.
It's important to take care, even when using PPE, and to be cautious of the parts of you that are unprotected.
If you're worried that you're not properly able to identify risks and where personal protective equipment is meant to be used, you can take the new COSHH Risk Assessor Certification™.