The provision of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for employees is one of the many legal obligations all employers need to meet.
PPE is designed and intended to protect employees from risk of work-related injury and/or illness. It can include items such as safety helmets and hard hats, gloves, eye protection, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses.
As well as ensuring your company is meeting its legal requirements, adhering to these regulations makes good commercial sense. By reducing risks to health and injury, PPE can help maintain a fit and health workforce which in-turn reduces staff turnover, improves a company’s productivity and reduces costs.
Selecting the right PPE for the risks present in your workplace is the first hurdle. Although this doesn’t have to be complicated. A ZenOffice Account Manager can support you in this task, and will listen to your requirements to ensure you’re supplied with appropriate equipment for your workplace.
The second hurdle is ensuring employees wear and utilise PPE correctly, and employers often report facing difficulties in meeting this element of the regulations. But there are a few simple steps you can take to overcome this challenge.
1. Engage your employees in the PPE buying process
The most commonly cited reasons for employees not wearing PPE correctly are lack of comfortability and impracticality. Make sure that PPE works for the wearer by involving employees in the buying process. Invite a handful of employees to test out different items of PPE whilst they carry out their jobs. Ask participants to provide feedback based upon a set of defined criteria to understand which items are likely to be the most and least popular amongst the wider team.
Commonly, different items of PPE need to be worn together – such as hard hats and hearing protection. If this is the case, trial different combinations of PPE items to find out which combinations are most effective, most comfortable and practical. For example, some employees may find it easier to use a combination of earplugs and a hard-hat, rather than wearing a hard-hat and earmuffs together.
2. Provide employees with options
Where possible, provide a range of different PPE options for employees to choose from. For example, some people may prefer using a combination of goggles and a hard hat, whilst others may prefer a hard-hat with a built in visor.
3. Maintain PPE and ensure it is kept clean
Ensuring that PPE is cleaned regularly and checked for breakages or malfunctions will help make sure it is fit for purpose, extend its lifespan, and increase the likelihood of it being worn. Some experts recommend placing the onus for PPE maintenance on the individual wearer, as this encourages employees to take on greater responsibility for their own health and safety and keep compliance top of mind.
4. Training and education
All employees required to wear PPE should receive training in how, where and why PPE should be worn. Training should also cover how to maintain PPE, and how to request new PPE should an item need replacing. This can be carried out as part of employees’ induction training, and all team members should receive annual re-fresher training. Training messages can also be reinforced by displaying posters and information in key areas throughout your premises.