Wednesday, 12 September 2012

An Employers Guide to Protective Equipment In The Work Place

By Larry Disley

Personal Protective Equipment (for ease of use, and to save my fingers known as PPE from hereon in) is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as any piece of equipment (this can include items which offer protection against wind, rain, snow and so on) that is either worn or simply held and offers in some way protection against a risk to the health or safety of that person. Examples of these pieces of clothing or equipment can be varied and the following list is not exhaustive:
Safety Boots
Safety Helmets
Eye Protection
High Visibility Clothing
It is important to note that their are certain items that are not covered under this umbrella term of PPE. Other items such as breathing equipments and any form of ear defense have specific regulations related to them and for this reason they are omitted. When choosing such equipment it is important to note that while they are not covered there is some crossover in that the equipment must be compatible and not in any way hinder the performance of any PPE equipment. For example if you had a set of ear defenders which in some way degraded the performance of a helmet (this could even mean blocking out a specific high visibility strip).
To summarise the general requirements, I offer you the following checklist. It isn't comprehensive but will offer you a valuable guide.
All equipment must be:
Correctly assessed to ensure it is suitable for the employer and the purpose
Correctly stored and maintained
Provided with any necessary instructions
Used in the manner for which it was provided
PPE equipment legislation states that PPE must be provided if it is deemed that there are potential risks to an employees health and safety that cannot be managed otherwise. Any hazards or risks should be comprehensively evaluated and be suitable for the environment it is to be used. The UK government has provided help for employers in the form of the government body - The British Safety Federation and they can provide information in the form of leaflets and on their own website. It is important to keep abreast of this site as there are regular changes to information.
Remember, it is you as an employer who the onus is on to provide and maintain the correct workwear and safety boots for the job. Should you not and there be an accident in the workplace then the consequences could be huge.
A safety writer for SafetyBootsUK currently working alongside Italian manufacturer Cofra in developing their Cofra Monviso range of safety boots.
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