Let’s talk PPE!
Personal Protective Equipment commonly known as PPE is the last line of defence on the Hierarchy of Controls. Why? Because while PPE may reduce the impact of a hazard, it doesn’t stop it from happening all together. So for example, I wear my hard hat on a construction worksite and I walk under a scaffold that has tools and the worker above me accidentally kicks the tool and it falls on my head. The impact of the tool hitting my head has been reduced BUT the tool (hazard at height) still fell. And I may still feel residual effects like a headache. So what should have happened?While PPE is very useful utilising the other control types is quite useful. An engineering control for example could have been used. A toe kick board could have been installed on the scaffold to prevent tools from slipping off the scaffold platform. This is a preventative measure to manage the hazard and try to prevent it from falling in the first place. Layering of controls is a key tool in health and safety to prevent incidents and accidents from occurring.
So take a look around your workplace and even your home, take note of the things that could possibly cause harm and ask yourself if there is a way to eliminate the hazard, substitute it for something less harmful, maybe you can use an engineering or administrative control and of course PPE use. Think about it, it may save someone’s life!