A new campaign, aimed at bringing workers to the forefront of the decision-making process when selecting personal protective equipment (PPE), has been launched by 3M. Alan McArthur, technical supervisor at the science-based technology company, explains why this is so important for a safer workplace.
Deciding on the best PPE for your workforce is not an easy challenge, especially with so many different options available.
However, if the product is going to adequately protect your employees it must be suited to the user, the task at hand and the environment in which it will be used.
While the level of protection is a top priority, comfort should also play a very important role in the selection process.
Workers who find their PPE comfortable are more likely to accept it, while those who don’t may be inclined to wear it incorrectly or remove it entirely – which reduces or eliminates the level of protection and puts them at risk.
But with comfort being so personal to the user, it is hard to know how to find the balance.
This is why 3M has launched its Workers’ Choice campaign. At 3M, we are passionate about providing comfortable and well-designed equipment, which has been built around the wearers’ needs.
As part of our campaign, we want to emphasise the importance of involving workers in the PPE selection process and offer advice on how best to engage with them on the topic – and there are many benefits of doing this.
Worker grinding on metal while wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Interacting with the workforce about PPE will reinforce the importance of using the protection. As safety managers are taking the time to listen to their views, it will reassure them that their opinions matter, while also encouraging open discussions about workplace health and safety.
For already time-strapped safety managers, it may seem like another job added to the never-ending list. But we are confident that if you involve workers at the start of the selection process, this could save time in the long run as there is likely to be fewer problems as the PPE is rolled out.
Here are a few of my top tips for involving workers effectively;
• Firstly, you need to identify the type and level of protection required for the specific task. Once this has been confirmed, then you can begin looking at the different types of PPE available and it is at this point when you should start thinking about involving your workforce.
• To find out if the protection is comfortable and suitable for the task, the best people to ask are those who will be using it. Focus groups and roundtable discussions are a great way to find out directly from the workers what does and does not work for them and narrow down some options for further investigation.
• With so much to choose from, it’s hard to imagine what will work best for your team just by looking at a catalogue. We understand this at 3M, which is why we offer extensive free product trials. This provides a great opportunity for staff members to try a solution and see if it works for them. To help you get the right feedback, we also provide questionnaires, which will help you make a decision on the most suitable PPE for your team.
By taking these tips on board, workforce acceptance of PPE will increase and this will help to ensure that your workers are protected. At 3M, we want to help you ensure that workers go home safe and healthy every day, so to find out more about how we can help you, please visit www.3M.co.uk/workerschoices.