Personal Protective Equipment – why bother?

We’ve all heard people complain about having to ‘put all this kit on, just for a simple job’; that usually means that they haven’t fully understood exactly what the kit is for and what might happen without it.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is not a case of the law being unnecessarily pedantic – it’s there to ensure that employees don’t suffer injuries or illnesses that can affect them and their families, potentially, for the rest of their working lives.

The PPE at Work Regulations 1992 state that employers must supply, free of charge, the equipment and clothing required to protect their employees from injuries, respiratory problems, infections, diseases and contamination of any kind.

PPE must be:

•  Properly assessed before use to ensure it is suitable;
•  Maintained and stored properly;
•  Have instructions on how to use it safely; and
•  Used correctly by employees

It should never be seen as ‘a nuisance’ – it can not only save a life, but also ensure that people’s quality of life doesn’t have to be reduced due to injury or long term illness.  No amount of money can compensate for being disabled or sick for a long period of time.

• So wear eye protection or breathing aids to protect from chemicals, flying metal, dust, gas, vapours and other objects.

• Don’t forget to put your helmet on when you’re supposed to – it’s better to have it on and not need it, than the other way around.

• Use the proper gloves, arm protection, safety footwear and other coverings when you’re supposed to so you don’t suffer from chemical splashes, punctures, cuts or other injuries.

• Protect yourself with overalls, boiler suits or other clothing when required so you don’t suffer from contamination or from getting your normal clothes caught in machinery.

As an employer the right training will help people to understand the importance of PPE; how to use it, look after it and check it for defects.  If everyone gets it right, fewer injuries and other problems will cause your business to suffer in the short term and your people to suffer in the longer term.