Providing your workforce with suitable Personal Protective Equipment is only half the story. Making sure your employees understand why they need to wear the equipment and also encouraging them to take the time and effort to do so can be a far more difficult challenge. In this series of blog posts, Sarah Broadbent, from 3M’s Technical Service team, explains the difficulties with PPE non-compliance and how they can be addressed.
A couple of facts uncovered in research show us how big a problem this is. 35% of employers experience problems in implementing PPE and 45% of PPE related accidents are thought to be attributable to non-compliance*.
Examples of non-compliance include a worker’s beard breaking the seal of a respirator, twisted straps compromising the quality of fit of a face mask, roll-down ear plugs not being inserted correctly and side arms of spectacles or iPod cables breaking the seal of ear muffs.
Interestingly, the more common problem with iPods and similar devices is that the level of music that is played can actually be even louder than the original hazard that the PPE has been designed to address! (3M’s hearing protectors with in-built radios that come with a restricted volume level solve this problem nicely.)
45% of PPE related accidents are thought to be attributable to non-compliance
Another worrying fact from research tells us that 50% of all Respirator Protective Equipment does not actually give the wearer the assumed protection**. Poor fit, long wear times and an unacceptable burden on the wearer can be the reasons for this and employers need to ensure regular testing is done to make sure protection is not compromised. We would also recommend the wearer tests their equipment for a decent amount of time before selecting it to give them a better idea of how suitable it will be over the course of a long shift.
There are many other reasons for non-compliance and in the next blog post I’ll take a look at these in a little more detail.
• 35% of employers experience problems with PPE non-compliance
• 45% of accidents result from PPE not worn correctly
• 50% of respirators aren’t doing an effective job
* Source: Health and Safety Executive, Research Report 419, 2006. Evidence base for identifying potential failures in the specification, use and maintenance of PPE at work.
** Source: http://www.fit2fit.org/resources/Downloads/Fit2Fit_2013.pdf