Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is used as temporary (until more effective hazard control techniques can be used) or last line of protection for workers against hazards. The PPE you use will depend on the work environment, the work conditions, and the process being performed.
Each piece of PPE has a specific use and may be made of specialized materials appropriate for one use, but not appropriate for another. For example, thick natural rubber gloves will protect the wearer from strong solutions of sodium hypochlorite (bleach) for an 8 hour working day, but it will not protect them from ammonia hydroxide as effectively.
It is also important to remember that wearing the right PPE is important. PPE does not reduce the workplace hazard nor does it guarantee permanent or total protection for the wearer. Simply having Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) available is not enough. In order to ensure the required level of protection:
• PPE should be selected considering the type of hazard and the degree of protection required.
• PPE should be useable in the presence of other workplace hazards.
• Users should be trained in proper use and fit of the PPE.
• PPE should be properly stored and maintained.
• If PPE is found to be defective, it should be discarded and replaced.
Wherever people work, there may be a need for PPE. This slide shows some typical jobs, hazards and PPE requirements for various jobs.
Working with Chemicals
• When working with chemicals, personal protective equipment is worn by workers to reduce or eliminate the exposure. The MSDSs (see Chemical Hazard Notes) for chemicals in the classroom or in the workplace will list the right PPE to wear. Not all types of PPE will protect against all hazards so it is important to always check the MSDS first before using both the chemical and the PPE.
Industrial or Construction Workplaces
• Safety footwear, eye protection and head protection are minimum requirements for most jobs. Commonly used types of PPE in industrial and construction workplaces include:
• head protection (hard hats) for protection against falling objects;
• safety glasses for protection against intense light, UV rays, infra-red rays (radiation from hot objects) and flying objects, such as wood chips, dust particles and metal pieces;
• earplugs or earmuffs for protection against noise;
• safety footwear for protection against crushing of toes;
• safety gloves for protection against contact with toxic chemicals and electric wires; and
• fall protection equipment for protection from falls from heights.
Job-specific personal protective equipment may be needed for jobs such as for welding, working with kilns or molten metals, and working with sharp tools.
Why policies and procedures are important
There are many benefits to following the legislation and procedures that affect us in the workplace.
Some of these are listed below.
• Health, safety and personal welfare at work: The obvious benefit to working in a healthy and safe environment is that you are less likely to risk your personal welfare at work. Reducing the risks and hazards in your workplace helps contribute towards this.
• Prevent injuries and illness to self or others: according to the Health and Safety Executive, 26.4 million working days were lost due to work-related illness and workplace injury in 2010/11. The cost to the economy and employers of this is substantial, and injuries and illness affect employees’ life outside of work. You and your employer’s health and safety responsibilities help to reduce sickness leave.
• Protection of personal data: Your employer holds a lot of information about you, as well as any customers they deal with directly. The Data Protection Act prevents your employer from using this information for purposes other than those the information was originally gathered for and means that they cannot keep the information for longer than necessary. This helps to protect information about you, such as your address, date of birth, etc.
• Protection of property and equipment: Offices are full of expensive equipment, so security procedures help to keep that equipment safe from thieves. Those same security procedures also help to protect your personal belongings while you are in the workplace. Having access to the right equipment helps to maintain workplace productivity and will help you to meet performance targets.
• Improve working practices: Policies and procedures are in place for a reason.
By following these you will help to improve your working practices and make sure you and your employer work within your legal requirements.
Preparing a risk management plan and business impact analysis
The process of identifying risks, assessing risks and developing strategies to manage risks is known as risk management. A risk management plan and a business impact analysis are important parts of your business continuity plan. By understanding potential risks to your business and finding ways to minimize their impacts, you will help your business recover quickly if an incident occurs.
Types of risk vary from business to business, but preparing a risk management plan involves a common process. Your risk management plan should detail your strategy for dealing with risks specific to your business.
It's important to allocate some time, budget and resources for preparing a risk management plan and a business impact analysis. This will help you meet your legal obligations for providing a safe workplace and can reduce the likelihood of an incident negatively impacting on your business.
This guide outlines the steps involved in preparing a risk management plan and a business impact analysis for your business.
Identify risks to your business
The first step in preparing a risk management plan is to identify potential risks to your business. Understanding the scope of possible risks will help you develop realistic, cost-effective strategies for dealing with them.
It's important that you think broadly when considering types of risks for your business, rather than just looking at obvious concerns (e.g. fire, theft, market competition).
Assessing your business
Before you begin identifying risks, you need to assess your business. Think about your critical business activities, including your key services, resources and staff, and things that could affect them, such as power failures, natural disaster and illness. Assessing your business will help you work out which aspects you couldn't operate without.
Ways of identifying risk
Once you have a clear picture of your business, you can begin to identify the risks. Review your business plan and think about what you couldn't do without, and what type of incidents could impact on these areas. Ask yourself:
• when, where, why and how are risks likely to happen in your business?
• are the risks internal or external?
• who might be involved or affected if an incident happens?
The following are some useful techniques for identifying risks.
Ask 'what if?' questions
Thoroughly review your business plan and ask as many 'what if?' questions as you can. Ask yourself what if:
• you lost power supply?
• you had no access to the internet?
• key documents were destroyed?
• your premises was damaged or you were unable to access it?
• one of your best staff members quit?
• your suppliers went out of business?
• the area your business is in suffered from a natural disaster?
• the services you need, such as roads and communications, were closed?
Brainstorming with different people, such as your accountant, financial adviser, staff, suppliers and other interested parties, will help you get many different perspectives on risks to your business.
Analyze other events
Think about other events that have, or could have, affected your business. What were the outcomes of those events? Could they happen again? Think about what possible future events could affect your business. Analyze the scenarios that might lead to an event and what the outcome could be. This will help you identify risks that might be external to your business.
Assess your processes
Use flow charts, checklists and inspections to assess your work processes. Identify each step in your processes and think about the associated risks. Ask yourself what could prevent each step from happening and how that would affect the rest of the process.
Consider the worst case scenario
Thinking about the worst things that could happen to your business can help you deal with smaller risks. The worst case scenario could be the result of several risks happening at once. For example, someone running a restaurant could lose power, which could then cause the food to spoil. If the restaurant owner was unaware of the power outage or the chef decided to serve the food anyway, customers could get food poisoning and the restaurant could be liable and suffer from financial losses and negative publicity.
Once you've identified risks relating to your business, you'll need to analyse their likelihood and consequences and then come up with options for managing them.