Inevitably, some work environments are hazardous or pose a danger to employees if there are not appropriate provisions in place. There are a whole host of jobs in which you are more at risk of being injured at the work place from construction, food manufacturing and ground handling to name just a few. Employers have a responsibility to make the workplace safe by providing instructions, procedures, training and supervision to employees to encourage people to work safely.
However, in some environments, even when controls have been put in place and safe systems created, hazards still remain. These include injuries that could be caused by something falling on your head or feet, handling hazardous chemicals, being out in extreme weather, breathing in contaminated air or your eyes being affected by flying materials. That’s where Personal Protective Equipment comes in.
Personal Protective Equipment, more commonly known as PPE, is needed in some working environments to reduce risks. Employees using PPE should be the last resort in preventing workplace injuries and ill health. If an employer cannot control the risks in other ways, PPE must be provided to all employees and these employees must wear the protective equipment provided as set out in the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Act 1992.
In the act, PPE is defined as “all equipment (including clothing affording protection against the weather) which is intended to be worn or held by a person at work which protects them against one or more risks to their health and safety”. PPE includes items such as hard hats, eye protection, gloves, and our speciality, safety footwear.
The Regulations also impose other requirements with respect to:
- Compatibility of items of personal protective equipment where it is necessary to wear or use more than one item simultaneously
- The making, review and changing PPE equipment and clothing and how this is assessed
- The maintenance of PPE which includes the cleaning and replacement of any PPE products
- The provision of accommodation for PPE
- Ensuring that PPE is used by all appropriate employees
Your employer must provide you with all your PPE whether it's new or a replacement product. Any protective equipment, clothing and footwear must include clear instructions on how to use them with these instructions written in a simple manner and close at hand.
It is essential that surroundings and environments are taken into consideration when products such as safety footwear are provided because any equipment or clothing chosen must be fit for purpose.
Comfort is another point that employers should take into consideration. Employees can refuse to wear PPE if they consider themselves to be in danger due to clothing or footwear not fitting correctly. They can also refuse to wear products if they think that what they’re being supplied is substandard (which you would never have with our safety footwear because it's both high quality and comfortable. No really it's true).
Don’t think that all the responsibility just lands on employers laps though, employees have a degree of responsibility too. It’s essential for employees wear the PPE provided to them to keep the environment safe. Employees also need to work with their employers and those in charge to tell them of any issues they may have with the PPE clothing and footwear provided to them.
It's important to remember that it isn’t just PPE that keeps you safe, it’s simple things such as not leaving your hair exposed or jewellery on at work. Treating the safety footwear and clothing you’re provided with care and making sure to implement the safety training you have been provided with. It’s all very good and well your employer providing you with PPE clothing and footwear but the two need to work in tandem for a safe work environment to be achieved.
So there you have it, employer and employee responsibilities for safety at work!
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