Incentivising use of correct PPE
11 September 2020
SINCE THE outbreak of the recent pandemic, the importance of personal protection equipment (PPE) as a literal life-saver in health and safety settings has become more increasingly well known to the wider public
PPE within industrial and dangerous occupations, such as electrical engineering or for those who battle with the elements daily, is absolutely vital. PPE encompasses essential safety equipment as well as clothing and footwear, all of which are necessary to do the job safely and with all legal requirements covered.
“Accidents are more likely to happen when the supplied PPE is discarded or used only intermittently. For instance, a jacket that retains sweat or a pair of boots that leak will soon be abandoned. Studies show that workers are more productive if they feel well protected and can move freely while wearing appropriate work wear. So, making sure that the wearer is motivated to use PPE is just as important as sourcing the very best PPE in the first place”, says Peter Wimmer, Product Specialist at W. L. Gore & Associates (Gore).
According to Wimmer, the following seven key aspects should be considered when selecting PPE:
Asking the wearer
A good place to start is with those who need to wear PPE. Sensible employers know the regulations but also make sure their workers are consulted on what is important to them in their PPE. User trials may focus on how effective the design is in keeping workers safe in high-risk situations, but the wearer will want a product that keeps their body comfortable. Too hot, cold, leaky or heavy and it doesn’t matter how good the product is in protecting against danger, the wearer is less likely to use it. Increasingly, workers demand that their PPE is comfortable as well as safe.
Latest technology and functional design
In a competitive market, designers and manufacturers now need to be spot-on in terms of developing the latest fabrics for protection in combination with wearer comfort. Increasingly there is wider availability of lightweight multi norm garments which protect against more than just the elements but also against additional risks, such as electric arc flashes. An effective example of this, Arc Rated GORE® PYRAD® garments, offer Class 2 electric arc protection whilst being windproof, lightweight and comfortable for the wearer all day. A growing trend is the demand for stylish garments so designers must be innovative in balancing safety with functional style.
Providing an incentive to change
Even where currently used PPE is less than effective, some workers may be reluctant to try a new product. Wider acceptance can be aided via end-user trials or by hosting an Educational Roadshow, where the technology will be explained in detail and benefits of the new styles can be illustrated in a direct and practical way. In current conditions, this can be done safely online.
Once employers and end-users have selected their PPE, it is a smart move to work in partnership with suppliers to develop a speedy ordering and delivery system. A dedicated Cloud PPE Online Ordering System is used by some large-scale employers to ensure that products are delivered the next working day to the individual.
Wash & Care for PPE
An important aspect is to care for the PPE. As garments get dirty and end-users sweat during work, the PPE must be washed in order to restore its performance. Employers should check if products are proven to withstand minimum 50 wash & care cycles and perform durably. Arc Rated GORE® PYRAD® laminates are proven to pass 50 wash/dry cycles in both home laundry and industrial laundry processes.
Sustainability & the environment
Companies throughout the supply chain, from sourcing raw materials to retail selling, are eliminating or reducing the use of potentially harmful materials, to protect humans and the environment. Employers more and more check environmental programs of manufacturers and suppliers when sourcing PPE. They look for ISO standardised method for environmental assessment of products and services including ISO 14001 or Life Cycle Assessment (LCA – ISO 14040) but also adherence to standards such as Standard 100 by OEKO-TEX.
Wearer satisfaction levels
In the end, PPE is worn by real people in real working conditions. It is no false economy to ensure that very high satisfaction levels can be evidenced in the chosen safety wear. Comfort, style and thermal regulation in high performance fabrics must work together so that the end-user is happy, safe and protected to work long hours in the supplied PPE.
For info about arc rated PPE provision visit: www.gore-workwear.com/arc-rated-pyrad