There’sa misconception that all of us working mums sit behind a computer all day, work in retail, teaching or the health sector. what about female firefighters, builders, plumbers and the rest – they really do exist.
If you work in the great outdoors, your safety is probably something that you think about on a daily basis – especially when you have a family to come home to everyday. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is something your employer is responsible for providing you with at work so that you’re able to perform the jobs you’re tasked with without compromising your health and safety. But, how do you know what protective equipment you need? Read on to find out…
Your employer must provide you with PPE
It’s the law for your employer to make sure that you have the right clothing and equipment for you to do your job safely. Roles such as cleaning, building work or factory manufacturing pose some obvious health and safety hazards, but the truth is that almost every job has some risks. These risks include injuries to:
- Your head (from falling materials).
- Your eyes (from particles, from bright light, or splashes of corrosive liquids).
- Your lungs (from breathing in air that’s contaminated with dangerous particles).
- Your body (from extreme heat, damp or cold).
- Your skin (from contact with substances that could result in damage).
Personal protective equipment is useful for reducing these risks and is available from suppliers such as Brosch Direct.
What kind of PPE should you be using?
If your head or neck is at risk: wear industrial safety helmets and scarves.
If your eyes are at risk: wear safety googles, face screens or visors. Make sure that your eye protection fits you properly and allows you to wear your contact lenses or glasses if you need them.
If your lungs are at risk: use respirators, face masks, and breathing apparatus (especially if you need an independent supply of breathable air).
If your whole body is at risk: put on a set of overalls, a boiler suit or an apron. Think about whether the suit needs to be fire-resistant, high visibility or resistant to chemicals.
If your skin is at risk: wear gloves, gloves with a cuff, and sleeves that cover all or a part of your arm. If your skin is cut, seek medical attention immediately, and if your skin is splashed with substances that could irritate your skin, wash it off straight away and seek further information on what to do in response to damage from that specific chemical.
If your ears are at risk: wear earplugs or ear muffs.
How do you know if your PPE is up to scratch?
To find out whether the equipment you’ve been supplied with is up to scratch, begin by asking yourself what you’re exposed to, and for what length of time. Have you already experienced an injury, or did you come close? This will help you to determine whether enough is being done to manage the risk to your body.
Also, question whether or not various pieces of PPE can be worn together. For example, if you’re wearing safety googles, a respirator and a pair of gloves, do you find that it’s easy enough to wear them all at the same time? Does wearing one compromise the effectiveness of another?
Furthermore, make sure your employer is storing your equipment in the right way. It should be stored somewhere safe, such as in a dry store cupboard, and if it’s not disposable equipment then someone should be in charge of ensuring it stays clean and well-maintained.
Finally, ask your employer whether or not the PPE they’ve supplied you with complies with the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002 (it’s the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002 and the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 that dictate that employers must meet a certain standard). If they’re not sure or they’re unable to tell you that it does comply – with absolute certainty – investigate further.
If you don’t think your employer has given you the right kind of PPE, or that it’s not well maintained, you should start by talking to them about it. If that doesn’t get the result you’re hoping for, contact a union (a union will answer your questions, as they have done in this instance), or go directly to a law firm to find out what your rights are and what responsibilities can be enforced on your employer.