Electrical engineers can face multiple hazards which require many different types of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Whether unintentional or deliberate, PPE non- compliance can be an issue which puts workers at risk. Scott Blakelock, application engineer within the personal safety division at 3M, the science-based technology company, explains what companies can do to help get their workers wearing PPE and keeping it on

are different and comfort is personal to each user, it is important to involve workers in the PPE selection process. Once health and safety managers have PPE options that can provide adequate protection for the hazards, employees could be given a choice. Choice and perception of control are interesting factors at this point. Even if the choice is between two options, there can be a feeling of empowerment and ownership of their decision, which could lead to greater engagement and ultimately improved PPE compliance. To help with this process, some

companies, including 3M, offer extensive free product trials, providing a convenient way for staff to try a solution and see if it works for them. 3M also provides questionnaires to help companies get the most valuable feedback. While this may seem like an added


ompanies have a legal duty to limit employees’ exposure to hazards in

the workplace. Under the Health and Safety at Work Act etc 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, they are required to provide and maintain a safe working environment, so far as is reasonably practicable. Typically a ‘Hierarchy of Controls’ is considered when limiting exposure: Elimination, Substitution, Engineering, Administration and finally Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). PPE should always be considered the last line of defence once the other control measures are considered and implemented. When selecting PPE, the level of

protection it offers is a top priority, but it’s not the only thing to consider. When wearing PPE, comfort is more than a luxury; it is one of the main factors affecting user compliance rates. Factors which influence comfort include fit; fabric; material weight, softness; breathability; temperature and a freedom to move with ease. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), when employees find


PPE comfortable, they are far more likely to wear it. Like with any item of clothing, or indeed PPE, if a wearer is uncomfortable they will look to make adjustments, which could lead to incorrect use, or removal of it all together, particularly if they are required to use it for long periods. Comfort issues can affect all types of PPE, for example, safety eyewear that is too tight may result in workers choosing to wear it on their head, or those who wear coveralls that are too hot, may unzip them – in both cases leaving workers potentially exposed to hazards. Unfortunately this is a common issue

and may result in wearers not being sufficiently protected, leaving the wearer exposed to potential hazards. There are also potentially large

financial costs involved too; according to research improper use of PPE cost business around £79bn in 2018. The report claims that 84 per cent of businesses operating in a high risk environment lost money from injuries due to PPE non-compliance. So how can companies help improve compliance rates? Because all people

nuisance on top of already busy workloads, involving workers in the selection process can also save businesses time and money in the long run. Another key part of improving

compliance rates is to train staff; not only around how to wear their equipment properly, but also why it is important to do so. If people are better informed about the hazards they face, they are more likely to want to protect themselves. When considering reusable PPE,

training should also cover maintenance and storage. This can also save businesses money by reducing the need for premature replacements. Non-compliance, deliberate or

unintentional, can usually be solved by improved comfort levels of PPE, training and a better understanding of why the supplied equipment always needs to be worn in the correct way at the required times. And while safety should always be the

primary concern, improving compliance rates can itself help a business’ bottom line, by reducing downtime and increasing productivity – making comfortable PPE the best choice all around.

3M 08705 360 036


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