Surface World August 2018 (Show Guide) Surface World Aug 2018 - Page 84

HEALTH & SAFETY Improving PPE compliance through comfort Surface World columnist Simon Field, a technical specialist at science-based technology company 3M, explains the need for comfortable safety equipment When it comes to personal protective equipment (PPE), comfort is more than a luxury; it is one of the main factors affecting user compliance rates. Workers who find their PPE uncomfortable can be more likely to wear it incorrectly or remove it altogether, particularly if they are required to use it for long periods. For example, those who find their safety eyewear too tight may choose to wear it on their head, while those whose coveralls make them too hot may unzip them. Non-compliance such as this can reduce, or even eliminate, the protection provided, leaving the wearer exposed to potential hazards. In 2009, 3M surveyed 127 health and safety managers from various industries to learn more about this issue, for a report titled PPE Matters[1]. Only 30 per cent of respondents thought that PPE was always worn in their workplace, with 70 per cent believing that workers occasionally omitted to wear it. When asked why they thought this was, 39 per cent of those surveyed cited lack of comfort. This answer was second only to “workers could not be bothered”, which 47 per cent of respondents chose. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) shares a similar view, stating on its website: “When employees find PPE comfortable they are far more likely to wear it.”[2] To find PPE that workers will find comfortable, it is important to involve them in the selection process. This can also make them feel more interested in the final decision, which can further help to increase compliance rates. During the selection process, employers should consider offering a range of options for workers to trial, each capable of providing adequate protection against the hazards being faced. Among these, it may be helpful to include PPE that has been designed to comfortably fit a variety of people. For example, the SecureFit range of protective eyewear by 3M uses innovative Pressure Diffusion Temple Technology to ensure that the temple arms apply a similar pressure across different head sizes. Following this, workers should be invited to provide feedback using methods such as staff surveys, focus groups and roundtable discussions. To help with this process, 3M offers extensive free product trials, providing a great way for staff to try a solution and see if it works for them, as well as questionnaires to help health and safety managers get the most valuable feedback. Once the equipment has been chosen, staff must be properly trained. This is also vital for ensuring that workers comply with PPE requirements. Proper training should cover not only how to wear the equipment correctly, but also why this is important. Those who are better informed about the hazards they face are more likely to want to protect themselves. For reusable PPE, training should also cover maintenance and storage. This can also save businesses money in the long run, by reducing the need for premature replacements. In fact, while safety should always be the primary concern, improving compliance rates can itself help a business’s bottom line, by reducing downtime and increasing productivity – making comfortable PPE the best choice all around. For more information on any of these topics, or for general information about health and safety in the workplace, call the 3M helpline on 0870 608 0060. For more information about 3M, visit [1] ute=ImageFile&placeId=7BC6E48B1800BAE180A88EBDDE34DE24&version=current [2] 82 SHOW GUIDE - AUGUST 2018 twitter: @surfaceworldmag