I recently read a blog article from Westex and had an odd thought. Would you share ear plugs with your co-workers?
Not a One Size Fits All Solution
The article was talking about how a lot of companies want to buy a single size for their more expensive PPE articles. Since Westex supplies PPE I assume there was enough companies doing this that they felt they needed to address it in an article. Of course they have sales as an alternative motive for this, but everything they say is on the mark.
Personal NOT Personnel
What is PPE for?
I think they are asking the wrong question thought. PPE stands for Personal Protective Equipment NOT Personnel Protective Equipment.
This is a critical point! First PPE least effective hazard control method and second it is the last line of protection to the worker in danger. I don’t want to talk about how the fit makes working in the equipment harder, or leaves areas of less exposure, the Westex article does a good job making this clear; what I do want to talk about is the purpose of PPE.
Energized work is the exception
Electrical Safety Program
When developing an effective Electrical Safety Program, selecting PPE is one of the last things to do before initial implementation. When the hazard has been identified there is a hierarchy of controls that CSA Z462, NFPA 70E, and industry best practice require:
- Engineering Controls
- Administrative Controls
- Personal Protective Equipment
You follow each step down the line and work to lower the risk to the worker to acceptable levels (In a future post I will go through each with examples.).
The first three are always the best as they require little to no extra continuous training after implementation, the bottom three are prone to human error.
Because PPE is right at the bottom, it should be as personal to every exposed worker, and checked for fit periodically. You shouldn’t expect workers to share fall arrest harnesses without checking for fit, and the same goes for all electrical PPE. It is a personal fit to everyone.
Energized work is always the exception, never the rule. When a worker is e exposed to a hazard they should be treated with enough respect that they have proper fitting PPE.
The PPE for you and your workers must be personal to them, not general for the entire crew; big/small, short/tall, etc.
If you you want to talk about this more, don’t hesitate to add me on LinkedIn.
Originally posted for LinkedIn on January 5, 2016.