Some jobs are obviously more dangerous than others. For example, there are more risks associated with the role of an industrial electrician when compared to a retail sales clerk. Why is it important to wear PPE in the workplace? What benefits can these practices provide? Unfortunately, some individuals tend to shirk their responsibilities (particularly if wearing this gear becomes uncomfortable during certain times of the year such as summer). Let us look at some shocking observations to prove this point before moving on.
A Look at Some Startling Figures
Why is it important to wear PPE in the workplace? The number of injuries due to unsafe procedures or failing to utilise the proper PPE is growing at staggering proportions. For example, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reported that more than 555,000 non-fatal injuries occurred between 2017 and 2018 (1). Out of these, approximately 135,000 caused employees to be absent from work for more than seven days. It has also been shown that workplace injuries forced employers to pay out more than £2.8 billion pounds between 2014 and 2015 (2). These figures have likely risen substantially. The good news is that a sizeable portion of these circumstances could have been avoided altogether if the correct PPE was present. Let’s now take a look at some common types of personal protective equipment in order to appreciate the important role that regulations play in regards to employee safety.
What are Some of the Most Common Types of PPE?
As you might have already guessed, there are numerous PPE configurations to employ. This will primarily revolve around the workplace in question as well as any notable dangers that may be present. For instance, head protection (such as a hardhat) will often be required on construction sites due to the risk of falling objects. Respiratory masks and googles could be used within environments associated with airborne particulate matter (such as a grain silo). Hearing protection is often necessary when working with industrial machinery and harnesses are essential for those who are performing tasks at height. Some other examples include (but are not limited to):
- Boots with steel toes and shanks.
- Electrically insulated gloves.
- Emergency respiration kits.
- Portable noxious gas detectors.
- High-visibility overcoats.
There may also be instances when one or more of the devices mentioned above will need to be used in combination in order to ensure higher levels of safety. However, this could present a problem during the warmer months of the year. Workers are often tempted to remove such items in order to become more comfortable. This can be a dangerous and even a fatal mistake.
Taking Warmer Temperatures Into Account
The importance of wearing PPE is just as important during the spring and summer months. This is why employers must make absolutely certain that workers are adhering to the rules at all times (even if the use of such equipment could cause slight discomfort). However, it is just as prudent to mention that hot weather is associated with additional risks that might not be easily spotted.
For instance, it is estimated that the number of skin cancer cases arising from excessive exposure to the sun will rise by seven percent by the year 2035 (3). Workers need to be made aware of the dangers attributed to ultraviolet rays and to protect themselves accordingly. The same holds true in regards to wearing the correct type of solar protection as well as noticing the first signs of heat exhaustion on the job site. An ounce of prevention will go a long way and the number of heat-related injuries can be dramatically reduced with a bit of foresight.
The Role of Accountability
The importance of wearing PPE is everyone’s responsibility. While management needs to keep abreast of the latest rules and regulations, employees should likewise monitor one another in order to ensure full compliance. Although it is impossible to avoid all accidents, there is no doubt that embracing a more proactive approach can dramatically reduce these instances from occurring. Personal protective equipment is here for a reason and its presence should never be taken lightly.