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When working on a job, having the right tool matters.
The same is true when it comes to safety. The right tool can make all the difference in keeping workers safe and secure on a job site. That’s why Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is so important and something we’re trying to raise awareness about during NAOSH Week.
Nova Scotia has many industries that require PPE, particularly the fishing and construction industries. These are both industries with historically high rates of workplace injuries. In the past, PPE wasn’t used or, as often was the case, wasn’t used correctly. That led to injuries and even deaths. While we are seeing improvement, more can be done in these and other sectors.
Using Personal Protective Equipment isn’t just the right thing to do for employees. It’s also the law. Nova Scotia’s Occupational Health and Safety regulations provide clear expectations for employers when it comes to providing PPE to employees. The regulations state that an employer is responsible for providing personal protective equipment and devices required for an employer’s assigned task based on the nature of the task, the locations and conditions of the workplace and any hazards that may affect the health and safety of workers.
Employers need to ensure their workers have the right safety gear for the job. And employees need to use that gear properly. That includes PPE for head, eyes, face and neck, hazards to skin or feet, respiratory hazards and when there is a risk of drowning.
Hazards are present in many workplaces in Nova Scotia. That means Personal Protective Equipment should be too. Eye protection, ear protection, hard hats, safety boots, fall arrest equipment, respirators, personal floatation devices and many more pieces of gear are available to keep workers safe. Are you using them correctly and consistently in your workplace? Are workers?
To ensure that PPE is used in the right ways, consider the following:
1. Include a personal protective equipment program as a formal part of the company health and safety program.
2. Review work processes for supervisors and workers – what hazards do they encounter in their jobs that require PPE?
3. Establish procedures for the selection and fitting, maintenance, storage, training and monitoring of PPE usage.
4. Ensure that PPE provides adequate protection for workers, meets company standards and complies with applicable laws and regulations.
5. Determine that the PPE does not cause undue discomfort and doesn’t create new hazards.
The right tool for the right job matters. Personal Protective Equipment is an important part of your workplace’s safety toolbox. By creating a culture where PPE is used properly and consistently, people at your workplace will be safe and secure.