Personal Protective Equipment
Personal Protective Equipment includes items such as safety boots, goggles, air filtration masks, respirators, harnesses, high visibility clothing and any other protective item that would ensure an employee’s safety. The Personal Protective Equipment required by employees will vary significantly depending upon their job role, so general operatives will require steel cap boots and gloves, to protect against accidental foot or hand injuries; whilst an operative lifting heavy objects will require a hoist.
Why do accidents occur?
The most common cause of accidents relating to PPE is that protective equipment may not be made available to personnel, or they may not receive the right level of training to enable correct usage. Personal Protective Equipment can quite literally be a life or death matter and so it warrants the utmost care and attention by employers.
All employees should receive frequent and thorough training in the use of safety equipment, safety methods and risk reducing techniques and initiatives. All personal protective equipment should be stored safely, and should be frequently checked and maintained to ensure they operate as efficiently and effectively as possible. All equipment should be offered with usage instructions and equipment faults and damages need to be catalogued and remedied to prevent further use, until repairs can be made, or a replacement can be issued.
Unfortunately, some employers may avoid issuing PPE to save money, or they may just be negligent; whilst others may offer comprehensive training, but may not be checking to ensure that PPE is being use properly, or if it is being used at all.
So accidents may occur through the improper use of PPE, or because the employee was issued with the wrong personal protective equipment for the job, assuming that they were issued any at all.
What sort of injuries can be caused?
There are numerous industrial injuries that can be caused through a lack of Personal Protective Equipment, crushed limbs, toes and fingers can occur where safety boots and gloves are not used; lacerations and amputations can occur among employees that work with chainsaws and other bladed tools, whilst head and brain injuries can occur where no helmets or hard hats are issued. In some instances, dire accidents and fatalities can occur where faulty harnesses and safety ropes are issued.
Who’s duty is it to provide PPE?
Your employer has a duty of care to you as employee, so it is their responsibility to keep you safe whilst at work. Your employer has no right to ask for a financial contribution from you towards the cost of your personal protective equipment.
It is also the employer’s responsibility to ensure that all PPE is properly checked and inspected before use to ensure that it is suitable and functioning correctly for its intended purpose. Your employer must also ensure that PPE is stored and looked after appropriately, replacing equipment when required to do so. Instructions for equipment use must be made available to personnel and where items of PPE must be worn together, they must be compatible and must not undermine the desired protection provided by each item.