Reasons to Periodically Reevaluate Your PPE Effectiveness
We all conduct yearly performance reviews with our workers to make sure they’re doing their best on the job. But did you know that you should do the same type of review for the effectiveness of your PPE? Of course, you can’t sit your gloves down for a discussion, but there are several places that you can ask questions to maximize safety.
Changes to Your Workers
The whole point of PPE is protecting your workers, so it makes sense to start with them! Ask your people a few questions to determine if their needs have changed since your last evaluation.
Ask your workers:
- Have they been prescribed reading glasses?
- Are they experiencing more fatigue from their gloves or other gear?
- Do they report trouble hearing on the job despite passing their required hearing tests?
- Have they experienced muscle strain or other repetitive motion injuries?
New Processes in Your Facility or Job Site
Ask yourself if anything significant has changed in your facility or on the job site.
- Have you added new machinery that requires different or higher protection?
- Have you had a noise assessment recently? Did the noise level increase?
- Have environmental conditions on the job site changed?
- Are you manufacturing anything new?
- Are you working with new chemicals?
- Are you using new manufacturing techniques?
- Have company or OSHA rules changed?
The solution is the same for any yes answer. Reevaluate the PPE you use to protect in each situation to make sure you don’t need higher levels of cut, puncture, or abrasion protection. Determine if you might need to add impact protection, FR protection, or chemical resistance. If you need help figuring it out, consult a safety expert who can conduct a thorough Safety Assessment.
Bad Worker Habits
Ask yourself if compliance issues have been on the rise.
- Are you reminding workers to wear their PPE or to follow safety rules more than you used to?
- Are some workers spreading bad habits by example like wearing safety glasses on top of their heads or removing their gloves to do some tasks?
- Start asking your people why they’re not complying with the rules. It’s possible their PPE is uncomfortable or inconvenient. They may have eyewear that’s fogging up or gloves that are making their hands sweat. Getting to the root of the problem can help to solve it.
- Sometimes bad habits spread through Normalization of Deviance. Conduct training on Wearing PPE Correctly to combat this problem.
New PPE Technology
Ask your workers if your current PPE is meeting all of their needs.
- Do you employ any stop-gap safety measures like double-gloving or frequent glove replacement because there’s no good solution on the market?
- Do you workers face extreme hazards like high heat or extreme cut hazards?
- Has any particular injury become more common that might point to additional needs for protection?
- Every evaluation is a chance to review what’s come out in the market recently. Many new technology innovations are a result of needs in the marketplace, so it’s possible your unsolvable problem now has a solution!
- New products on the market in the last couple of years include:
- Don’t forget to consider existing products that you might be missing like sleeves to protect workers above the wrist as well as below.
New PPE Materials
Ask your workers what complaints they have at the end of a workday.
- Do your workers have comfort or other ease-of-use complaints that you’ve had to tell them are part of the job?
- Are any compliance issues related to comfort?
- Technology isn’t the only thing that has advanced in recent years! PPE designs, materials, and constructions have all evolved to keep workers more comfortable and make it easier than ever for them to stay compliant.
- Look for:
- low-profile impact gloves for better flexibility
- coreless materials that help prevent contact dermatitis
- feather-light cut-resistant gloves with exceptional dexterity and flexibility to prevent hand fatigue
- impact gloves with special venting to allow moisture and heat dissipation
- mesh materials that help to keep hands cool and dry
If you find yourself with more questions than answers at the end of this review, consult a safety specialist! They can tell you what’s new in the market or even help you arrange for an expert safety assessment.