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Consequences of not Wearing Suitable PPE on Site

Consequences of not Wearing Suitable PPE on Site

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Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE, can play a crucial role in ensuring employee safety in the workplace. It comes in a variety of forms, ranging from facemasks, which prevent the spread of harmful pathogens, to hard-hats, which guard against falling objects and other construction-site hazards.
But what constitutes a hazard, and how can the right PPE protect us?
If you’re working in a dark environment, then the right high-visibility clothing might allow you to be seen. In some instances, this can make all the difference.
Falling objects and debris might pose a threat to life and limb, as might impacts and collisions in vehicles. In environments with contaminated air, respiratory aids might be critical. This is particularly the case in asbestos disposal, but it also makes a difference if plaster dust and other airborne irritants are being created.
If workers are handling sharp blades and drills, then they might do so with the help of protective gloves. The same applies to those handling corrosive chemicals – though the type of protective glove being used might differ substantially.
If electric shocks are a danger, then insulating equipment might be necessary – though not a replacement for basic precautions, like turning off the power at source. Excessive noise and vibration, similarly, can result in hearing loss and neurological disorders, which can be guarded against through the use of ear-defenders. Unlike many of the other problems we’ve touched upon, hearing loss can build gradually over time, in such a way that it might not be noticed until it’s too late to do anything about it.
Eye protection is among the most consequential investments, as the eyes are among the most fragile and valuable parts of the anatomy. If workers are dealing with arc-welding, with hazardous chemicals, or with tasks that might spit out splinters or shards toward the face, then goggles and facemasks can be critical.

Why not wear PPE?

With all of this in mind, the decision to use PPE might seem a straightforward one. And yet, it’s not always that simple.
For some religious groups, exceptions may be sought. An observant, turban-wearing Sikh might prefer not to wear a hard-hat. And they’d be legally entitled to do so. There might also be medical reasons to refuse to wear a facemask. For example, the UK coronavirus guidance mandates mask-wearing unless doing so ‘will cause you severe distress.’ You might find that a similar argument can be made if you’re wearing a mask in a work context.
Of course, employers will need to balance the needs of the individual with the hazards being guarded against. If the worker is dealing with asbestos, then they should not be allowed to avoid wearing the appropriate equipment.
In many cases, however, workers might refuse to wear their PPE for less convincing reasons. For this reason, making observance mandatory is often very useful. It creates a culture where workers cannot be peer-pressured out of dressing appropriately: doing so is part of their job.

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