Reducing the Risk: Why Personal Protective Equipment Matters

Personal protective equipment is essential when working with machinery and providing onsite consulting. Depending on the environment, equipment protects you from burns, acidic materials, blades, etc. PPE matters, but equipment is just one layer of safety. Training, machine maintenance, and engineering of site walkways reduces risk too.

 

What’s PPE?

 

Personal protective equipment is a subjective term applied. It can refer to your clothing, such as boots, or equipment, such as a helmet. Any piece of uniform or additional equipment essential to your safety is PPE. Otherwise, your skin, lungs, etc. could not sustain environments involving hot water or solutions, toxic fumes, acids, etc.

 

Legal Obligations

 

In some cases, a manufacturer or business venture is met with options or limitations. Regulations ensure workers are supplied with correct and effective equipment when no other means spare them from harmful working conditions. Any item identified as needed is supplied to workers by the employer free of charge.

 

Risk Assessments

 

Personal protective equipment is identified through the risk assessment process. Risk assessments are thorough examinations of business practices and all parties involved from ideation to production and (potentially) ending with delivery. Depending on your work operations, risk assessments are conducted by members of a national organization, applied by a licensed third party service, or performed by federal or state workers.

 

Optimal Environment

 

As mentioned, PPE is one layer in a series of protocols and behaviors meant to protect you. In addition to equipment, work environments must remain clean and levers and knobs are kept in optimal working condition, free of jagged edges that snag clothes or sharp points that poke or stab workers. See here about available levers and essential components.

 

Self-Employment

 

If self-employed, you must follow guidelines to protect workers from weather or machinery. You must ensure pieces of equipment are compatible as well. The terms regarding legal obligation are ambiguous, so it’s essential that you approach every working environment with a fresh set of eyes and don’t assume any integral factors have changed, etc.

 

Instruction and Training

 

Instruction and training takes a few minutes, or a few months, depending on your site conditions and personal protective equipment. You may need to wear gloves, while others require suits that protect the entire body from harmful gases, liquids, etc. Employees are tested and must prove they can properly wear, and in some cases, use equipment in the face of danger or during the aftermath of an accident.

 

Unique Communication

 

Communication between those working in harmful environments is essential despite loud machines. Holding or showing signs or making signals can be essential to the work process. Workers may need to warn, direct, or control on and off switches as to guard another’s safety and well being. Proper communication and protocol in your workplace reduces risk despite handicaps and extreme conditions.

 

Maintaining Equipment

 

PPE is only useful if well maintained and working properly. An outdated or worn piece of equipment puts an unknowing worker in harm’s way. Maintenance involves cleaning, testing, replacing, discarding, and renewing. Otherwise, assign competent repair people or personnel to address potentially faulty or aging equipment.

 

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