As any health and safety officer will tell you, personal protective equipment (PPE) is vitally important for protecting employees against harm across a variety of different workplaces. From hospitals to building sites, PPE is an absolute must that employers cannot overlook. We consider some things you may have heard around PPE that don't quite ring true.
Myth #1. It is the employee’s responsibility to protect themselves
This may seem like an obvious point, but many employers are ill-informed about their responsibilities. No matter how big or small the worksite in question is, it is always the responsibility of the employer to provide adequate protective equipment that keeps workers out of harm’s way. The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) provide details of an employer's obligations.
According to the government’s HSE any risks identified in routine assessments must be addressed with an accessible and plentiful stock of PPE. However, PPE is actually also a last resort, other controls must be in place to mitigate risks. It is worth understanding exactly what you need to do and the legislation that must be followed.
Myth #2. Your obligations are over once the PPE has been sourced
So, you’ve managed to source an affordable PPE supplier and have ordered enough protective garments for your whole company. Your job is over, right? Wrong. As well as ensuring employees know how and when to wear their PPE, you will have to ensure it is stored in an appropriately secure space. It must also be kept clean and dry, ready for reuse when the time comes.
Myth #3. Employees are not obliged to wear PPE
If PPE is necessary for a task, employees must wear it. If they refuse, you have the right to prevent them from undertaking their job.
Myth #4. You don’t need PPE for quick jobs
This is a dangerous misconception that can easily lead to accidents. While it may seem a little excessive to wear PPE for a one-minute task, injuries can take place in a matter of milliseconds. Always remind employees to follow PPE guidelines, regardless of how minor their task may appear.
Myth #5. You can never be too protected
While it may seem like a good idea to layer up the PPE for dangerous jobs, it is possible to overprotective yourself. For example, you could overheat if you throw on too many warm layers or trip over unwieldy and unnecessary pieces of PPE. Try to get the balance right and stick to guidelines.