Whether you’re working on your own or as part of a small team, your Personal Protective Equipment (otherwise known as safety workwear) should never be an afterthought. However, it’s not unknown for even seasoned professionals to get into the habit of treating it like just a box to be ticked, rather than an essential safety measure to safeguard you against the most dangerous aspects of the job - whether those are immediate hazards or long-term risks.
If you’re one of the many people tasked with some gardening jobs this spring and summer - whether that’s for yourself or a client - we’ve narrowed down some handy ways to make sure you’re properly equipped for the job.
Quick tips on choosing the right PPE
1. Know who is exposed, and to what
If it’s just you alone doing the job, half of this particular task is done for you already. Before you pick out your PPE though, it’s important to explore every aspect of the job at hand, identify possible dangers and plan for them, no matter how unlikely they may seem. If you’re doing some structural work, for example, it’s worth thinking about unexpected dangers like asbestos exposure, and what you’ll do if you encounter it.
2. Ensure that the equipment is suited to each individual user
Having PPE which fits properly is far more than just about being comfortable. If your equipment doesn’t fit you, it’s ineffective at best, and poses a distinct danger in itself at worst. Loose gloves, for example, can get more easily caught in machinery, whereas ill-fitting dust masks and respiratory equipment may not effectively block out the toxins and debris they’re supposed to be guarding you from.
3. Make sure that the PPE is compatible
On a related note, if you’re wearing more than one piece of PPE at a time (and in the vast majority of cases, you probably will be), you’ll also need to ensure that they’re compatible with each other. For example, if you’re wearing safety glasses, they need to be positioned so that they’re not disrupting the seal of a respirator, which can cause air leaks.
4. Ascertain that it’s being used effectively
While some elements of PPE can be relatively straightforward - safety gloves and work boots, for example, are reasonably simple to use - it’s still important not to take anything for granted, and ensure that all PPE is being effectively used in a way that minimises danger. As we touched on above, the protective qualities of work gloves are rendered void if they’re worn loosely, increasing the chances of them being caught in machinery. More complex PPE like masks and respirators also need to be handled by a trained, competent person, so if it’s you alone using them, make sure you educate yourself in their use! If you’re responsible for any apprentices or other employees, equally, they’ll need to be using the items in a way that ensures they’re properly protected. Don’t leave anything up to chance!
If you’re looking to get yourself equipped, we’ve got a fantastic range of safety and workwear here at R&J Builders Equipment, including everything from head protection and helmets, first aid kits, and hi-visibility jackets. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, or you need some extra help and advice, no worries - just give our friendly experts a call on 01254 52525, and we’ll be happy to see how we can help!