Personal Protective Equipment Mitigates Occupational Health Risks
Why protective equipment is a must for your employees
The importance of personal protective equipment is often overlooked by both employers and their employees. Yet the use of protective equipment is effective, and in the long run, cost-effective method of reducing occupational health risks.
Companies should always carry out risk assessments and compile risk protection plans and have all necessary steps in place to mitigate risk. Personal protective equipment and clothing while effective should only come into play once other risk mitigation actions are taken. For example, the use of specialized chemical containers that have airtight seals comes before the use of respirators.
Industrial working environments pose many risks to those who work in them. A well thought out safety programmes and training can go a long way to reduce the risk of accident and injury but at some point accidents and injuries are going to happen.
The responsible use of personal protective equipment by both employer and employee can mean the difference between life and death. A safety helmet could absorb or deflect the impact of an object that would otherwise have been fatal. Safety goggles could mean the difference between maintaining eyesight or losing it.
Responsible use of Personal Protective Equipment
As stated already there is a responsibility on the part of both employer and employee when it comes to the use of protective equipment.
It is the employer’s responsibility to provide adequate protective clothing and equipment to their employees when working in industrial and generally hazardous environments. This means employers should always have sufficient quantities of any essential protective equipment and clothing that they may be legally required to provide. These should be of good quality so that they can be as effective as one would reasonably expect.
Employers are also responsible for ensuring that their employees understand the importance of using personal protective equipment and the need to wear protective clothing.
That said, employees are not without responsibility. Anyone working in a hazardous environment has the responsibility to wear all protective equipment supplied when necessary and to wear it correctly.
One cannot wear a hard hat or safety goggles incorrectly and then expect them to provide the same level of protection as if they were used correctly.
Top essential safety equipment and clothes
The most commonly used protective clothing and safety equipment used in industrial work environments are the following:
- Protective clothing in the form of overalls (single or two-piece), reflective vests for high visibility, padded suits and life jackets for environments with water.
- The most common head protection item is a typical hard hat safety helmet.
- Safety glasses or goggles and face shields make up common face and eye protection equipment.
- Various types of face-mask, make up respiratory protective equipment. These can be as simple as a dust mask or more comprehensive as in gas masks and welding masks.
- In noisy environments, earplugs and earmuffs form essential hearing protection equipment.
- Equipment for elevated work environments such as buildings and powerline work includes fall arrest harnesses, climbing helmets and more.
- General skin protection may include various types of gloves including shoulder length and shorter varieties, fire-resistant clothing, boiler suits and dusk coats.
- Safety boots, rubber gumboots and steel-toed boots are essential footwear.
- Many hat types are commonly used as personal protection equipment for outdoor environments.
- Disposable protective clothing is also common in hazardous environments and areas where hazardous materials, chemicals or waste is encountered.
The prevention of accidents and injuries should always come first. In many ways, personal protective clothing can play a part in preventing injuries. At the very least, protective clothing can reduce injury, damage or help avoid otherwise fatal accidents.
The use of protective clothing in hazardous environments is an investment in human capital as much as it is an ethical thing to do.
Working Knowledge International is a leading occupational health company based in Isando, Johannesburg.
Contact us today to enquire about our personal protective equipment offerings. Let us help you build a healthy, safe and productive workforce.