PPE 2018 regulations provide a basis for best practice when it comes to supplying your staff with the correct personal protection equipment (PPE).
What is PPE?
Personal protective equipment can include an array of items such as safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, hazmat suits, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear, safety harness, ear plugs, ear defenders and more!
Essentially, the list is not exhaustive because the risks and hazards that employees of one company would face in their daily work are very different from those faced by others in other industries. PPE should be supplied to meet the hazards and needs of a situation, even if this is considered a ‘one-off,’ e.g. single use overalls when cleaning etc.
What PPE is not
PPE does not include;
- Uniforms or ordinary working clothes not designed to provide protection for the health and safety of employees
- Clothing provided for hygiene purposes
- Equipment that is used to protect employees when travelling, such as helmets for riding a motorbike etc.
- Equipment used during competitive sports activities but does include protective equipment supplied to sports instructors, e.g. life jackets for sailing instructors
- A piece of equipment issued to be used in self-defence, such as a truncheon and equipment such as helmets, body armour etc. used to protect employees from physical violence are considered PPE
- Portable devices used to detect things like radiation or personal gas detectors
In other words, PPE is supplied to meet the risks and hazards identified as part of a risk assessment under current health and safety rules and regulations.
Why PPE is important
PPE is part of the hierarchy of risk control, although it is considered the last resort. PPE is issued and used when there is no possibility of completing controlling or eliminating the hazard and the risk posed to employees.
For example, in a warehouse setting, there is clearly a need for forklift trucks to move goods around and that means, alongside training and vigilance, the wearing of PPE – e.g. safety boots, high visibility clothing etc. – is an essential tool in managing the risks posed.
PPE is not a failsafe option as;
- it ‘only’ protects the individual wearer and not the entire workforce
- its effectiveness is difficult to assess although there is a widely held belief that maximum protection is rarely achieved. Poor fitting PPE, for example, is an issue as is poor maintenance or the fact that not everyone adheres to the rules of PPE in wearing it when they should
- there is a school of thought that some PPE can affect the wearer in terms of reducing visibility, increasing weight and limiting mobility too.
- It alters the perception of danger for the wearer – in other words, someone wearing a high-viz vest in the warehouse will assume the forklift truck driver will see them; therefore, they don’t need to take any other actions.
PPE is part of managing the health and safety of the workplace, and specifically, the risk that hazards could pose to your workforce. Supplying the right PPE is essential, but it doesn’t mean accidents won’t or can’t happen. However, along with a robust health and safety policy, PPE should help to reduce risks of injury.
How can we help you?
If you are in need of assistance with any aspect of Health and Safety management, here at Synergos we’d be delighted to help. Whether you have questions or are looking for advice and support to maintain standards, call 01484 666160 or Email email@example.com and we’ll be happy to talk it over with you.