Introducing Personal Protective Equipment into your business Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) protects users against any adverse health and safety risks they may encounter at work. In a wider sense, it forms an integral part of a company’s health and safety management culture, policies and procedures. Failure to implement the correct PPE can severely affect the health of your employees, and in turn, leaves your company open to HSE penalties. Personal Protective Equipment failings in the fire service
One industry where PPE is vital is the fire service.
Recent research has uncovered that firefighters are being exposed to dangerously high levels of harmful chemicals due to having to re-wear their contaminated PPE. Subsequently, the research has uncovered that there is a higher rate of cancer among firefighters compared to other professions.
Chris Moore, a spokesperson for the Fire Brigades Union, has called for better protective equipment and for it to be more readily available to firefighters. Simply wearing Personal Protective Equipment isn’t sufficient enough to protect users from hazardous chemicals. The PPE needs to be maintained, washed and cleaned appropriately in order to rid the harmful chemicals completely. However, there currently are no industry-recognised regulations for the cleaning of firefighter equipment, its down to each individual brigade to determine what’s suitable. Without an industry regulation, PPE standards will no doubt vary up and down the country.
We asked Wayne Dunning, Health & Safety Manager at ELAS, for his thoughts on the recent findings.
“I’m suprised to hear this as firefighters are generally trained and should be aware of the risks when it comes to harmful chemicals, fumes, vapour and dusts, all of which should have been identified by the responsible health & safety person at the station.
“Additionally, suitable training should have been undertaken so that firefighters know how to correctly wear, clean and maintain their equipment. It is slightly more difficult to monitor PPE compliance considering there are no industry recognised regulations, however there are certain HSE legislations that need to be followed regardless.”
The importance of Personal Protective Equipment
PPE can be a life saver as it reduces the ill health effects that hazardous substances can bring. As an employer, if you fail to provide adequate PPE then you aren’t just risking the livelihood of your employees, you’re also risking ruining your own life. The absence of PPE will undoubtedly affect your employees’ health, but it will also affect your business and its reputation. Quite often, there are costly multi-thousand pound payouts resulting from PPE non compliance.
Personal Protective Equipment legislation
PPE falls under numerous pieces of legislation. First and foremost the Personal Protective Equipment regulation 2002 and the Personal Protective Equipment at Work regulation 1992 govern the usage of PPE. However, PPE compliance can also be found in secondary pieces of legislation such as the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health regulation 2002 and the Control of Asbestos regulation 2012. Each piece of legislation is of equal importance in its own right.
Introducing Personal Protective Equipment into your company
If you work in a high risk environment then without a doubt, you already have – or need to – introduce PPE into your business. The best place to start is to conduct a risk assessment. Risk assessments are used to evaluate the risks from any hazards that may be in your company. You then need to implement measures that mitigate these risks completely or as much as reasonably practical. This is where PPE comes in, as PPE is a mitigating solution to certain hazards present in your company. For more information on how to carry out a risk assessment, you can
read our blog here .
Another way of understanding what PPE you need within your company is by
carrying out health surveillance. Health surveillance helps you control the hazards your employees are exposed to by assessing if there are any negative health effects due to their job role. Health surveillance also is a great way of monitoring whether your PPE is actually effective. If you see a gradual decrease in your employee’s health at every health surveillance assessment, then it’s assumed that you need better controls in place, including PPE. Cleaning and maintaining your Personal Protective Equipment
Many people believe that the when it comes to PPE, once you have selected the appropriate piece and know how to use it, you’re protected. This is completely false. The maintenance and cleanliness of your equipment is just as important!
PPE is often the only barrier between a person and a hazardous substance. This means that your PPE is going to be riddled with hazardous substances, and unless you thoroughly clean your PPE after use, these substances are going to continuously be in close contact with your skin.
Here are a few ways we recommend you clean your equipment: Clean hard hats regularly with warm water, soap and leave to air dry Clean safety glasses regularly with warm water and soap Wipe ear protectors with a damp cloth after every use Clean and disinfect your respiratory equipment according to the manufacturers instructions
As always, if you notice that your equipment has any damage whatsoever then we recommend you exchange it for a new set. It simply isn’t worth taking the risk of using faulty equipment.
Unlike other companies, at ELAS
we are able to carry out your risk assessments on your behalf. Risk assessments can be daunting,and health and safety companies realise this too! This is why they provide template risk assessments for you to fill in yourself. However, here at ELAS, one of our trusted health and safety consultants will visit your site to assess the hazard and will then compile your risk assessment for you. We are also able to provide you with on-site health surveillance thanks to having one of the largest fleets of mobile medical units in the UK. If you still aren’t sure on your PPE responsibilities or need help and guidance when it comes to PPE within your company talk to a member of our team today. We’re available 24/7 and are always happy to help! Call 08450 50 40 60 or drop us a message using the contact form to the right.