Surface World Handbook 2017 - Page 172

3M Choosing compatible PPE for better protection and productivity Simon Field, technical specialist at science-based technology company 3M, offers tips for choosing compatible personal protective equipment (PPE) and explains why this is so vital Many workplaces present a combination of hazards, each requiring specifi c personal protective equipment (PPE). However, different types of PPE can often conflict with one another, particularly as most are worn on or around the face. For example, many workers complain that their eyewear fogs up more when wearing a disposable respirator. This can pose a safety risk if workers are forced to remove their eyewear to clean it. Similarly, for protective ear muffs to be effective, a tight seal is needed. The arms of protective safety spectacles can interfere with this, significantly impacting protection levels. As well as conflicting with one another, PPE solutions can sometimes clash with the wearer’s personal characteristics. For instance, negative pressure respirators cannot be worn effectively by bearded men. Likewise, prescription spectacles can hinder ear muff performance in the same way as safety eyewear often does. Employers are morally and legally obligated to protect workers’ safety. Therefore, they must ensure that the PPE solutions they offer are compatible with one another. As well as ensuring adequate protection, this can increase user comfort, which in turn 170 2017 - 2018 raises compliance rates and productivity. Furthermore, when workers are happy with their PPE, they are far more likely to look after it, which can save businesses money and help towards sustainability targets. Health and safety managers need to determine whether or not compliance is an issue with their current PPE. They may be able to do this simply by noticing whether or not staff adjust their PPE frequently. Alternatively, decision-makers should ask workers for their views, whether through feedback sessions, questionnaires or similar means. If a compatibility problem is identified, workers should be offered a range of PPE. A selection of sizes and adjustable features can improve fit and comfort, greatly reducing some basic compatibility issues. Combination products may also provide the solution. For instance, powered air systems providing respiratory, face and head protection are a simple way of addressing multiple hazards, using equipment designed to be worn together. Often, individual protective products are designed to minimise their negative effect on other types of PPE. read online: www.surfaceworld.com