30 · Health & Safety
Demolition is perceived as a dangerous industry. But even though their use is now mandatory, far too many accidents and incidents can still be attributable to a failure to wear the correct Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Conversely, a young worker in my own organisation was spared from irreparable damage to his foot last week because he was protected by his steel-toed boots. This example illustrates the importance of PPE. Nevertheless, many workers don’t like to wear it and there are often lapses in standards. We need to work hard to rigorously drive a safety culture for individuals in the demolition sector. We need to ensure that everyone is
compliant with the law and wears their PPE when on site. On demolition projects, there is a real need to ensure the right type of equipment is made available to our workers and is checked before an individual is allowed to enter a site. The range of PPE equipment available includes hearing and head protection, hard hats, safety eyewear, safety harness, protective footwear, life jackets, high visibility clothing and other items of protective wear. Once risk assessments, safety policies and guidance materials have been written for a site and a list of the required PPE has been drawn up, it is essential to make sure you play a part in engaging the workforce in helping a
D & D Autumn 08
THE IMPORTANCE OF PPE
Personal protective equipment is more than just a legal requirement, it can be the difference between life and death says Finning Group Head of Safety, Health, Environment and Quality, Jim Gray.
safety routine to succeed. By understanding that each individual is different in physical stature and behaviour, you can, without much effort, work with staff to develop their own personal safety routine. For example, individuals may already own PPE equipment that they are comfortable wearing. These items are often footwear, eye protection or high visibility vests. As long as these comply with the site guidance, by allowing their use, you are more likely to find that individuals wear their PPE properly if it is already part of their safety routine. Demolition is, by its very nature, a noisy environment. That is why it is particularly important when it comes to more personal items, like ear protection, that staff are consulted, listened to and involved in the equipment selection process, as what may suit one person may not work for another. As well as being inclusive, safety also has to be relevant to the workplace. For example, the demolition business can be dusty and dirty. Therefore, in order to develop a practical safety routine, it is essential that you
provide facilities and equipment for cleaning dirt off PPE equipment and managing the risks around dust and any resulting inhalation. For eye protection in particular, the provision of wipes is important, as the removal of eye protection for cleaning means the individual is exposed. Dirt spots on eye protection can also obscure vision and affect concentration, leading to a potential accident. If high-visibility clothing gets dirty, it can’t properly perform its role. It is important to have replacement items available in a range of sizes. Simply asking staff to bring a change of PPE with them can often overcome this issue and make them feel more comfortable. Within our business, every one of our employees has the right to go home safely after a days work. Every employee has the right to question a task that they believe is unsafe. Adopting this kind of approach empowers individuals, creating an environment of safety where everyone benefits. We should strive for zero accidents at work and eliminate unsafe practices from our operations.