7 Ways to Gauge Your Company’s PPE Health
As any self-respecting business owner is aware, safety through PPE is not simply a question of purchasing the right products for your team. The ideal safety culture has a great deal more to include in the overall health check, to ensure that your staff are kept from harm and they have the items they need to keep safe in the workplace.
As a result, it’s critical to check that your PPE health status is positive, and your team have the right kit, in the right place, at the right time. Here’s the lowdown on the top seven ways to gauge your company’s PPE health status, and what steps to take to address any issues you may identify…
1. Speak to your staff
As the guys on the ground actually using PPE products in their day to day role, one of the swiftest indications of poor PPE health is your team. Consider factoring in a few key questions at staff meetings, appraisals and line management reviews, to identify any potential issues. Ask questions such as:
“Do you have everything you need to stay safe in your role?”
“Are you comfortable with your PPE and equipment?”
“If there is anything you could change about your PPE kit, what would we do differently?”
“Do you have any issues or concerns about your PPE and how to use it?”
It may sound basic, but this sort of open questioning really can lead to a strong insight into what issues your team may be facing with their safety kit, and how to remedy it through proactive purchasing, training or additional checks.
2. Check your accident log
Again, this may sound like a no-brainer, but the level of incidents and accidents reported by your team provide a clear indication of the health of your PPE. If your PPE portfolio is sub-standard, this obviously will lead to preventable incidents and accidents which are obliged to be reported.
By making reviews of accidents, near-misses, reportable incidents and equivalent an integral point of audit in your weekly/monthly quality reviews, you’ll gain an ongoing indication of what trends are occurring which could be attributable to an unhealthy PPE approach. This may mean that your staff have the wrong kit, not enough PPE, or require refresher training to deploy it correctly.
3. Broaden your ongoing quality auditing
As with the Incident log, it’s important to factor PPE and Workwear audits into your broader Quality Assurance auditing and Quality Management framework. No matter what platform your QA uses, consider implementing an established schedule of visual checks relating to PPE specifically.
This may include monitoring stock levels to ensure that staff can replenish kit as and when required on the job, and testing items currently in use to ensure that they maintain integrity and are fit for purpose. Train staff to consider these issues as part of their safety culture and individual accountabilities, and ensure that your team feel confident in raising issues and following safety best practice in their role.
4. Amend and enhance your Method Statements/Statements of Work
For those of your team engaged in roles which require method statements or processes to conduct elements of the job safely, you can factor in PPE health checks to ensure that the agreed compliant approach reflects safety best practice. This may include prompting operatives to visually inspect PPE prior to deploying it for the activity, with guidance on identifying signs of wear and tear.
It also may incorporate prompts such as how to care for items of PPE compliantly, for example through effective storage, daily cleaning and washing items correctly according to manufacturers’’ instructions. Building these simple steps into your wider method statements ensures that all operatives look after their PPE, and are provided with clear guidance in terms of how to replenish obsolete or unsuitable items.
5. Assess your brand strength
If your company regularly assesses your brand in terms of customer awareness and reception, then this may be an ideal mechanism for checking your PPE health. If your operatives are regarded by customers as being shabby or ill-equipped, this can be negatively translated into brand recognition and awareness.
Regular customer surveys to ascertain how your brand is regarded by customers who regularly encounter field operatives can give you valuable objective insight into how your team are perceived. Too little PPE, or shabby presentation can indicate it’s time for a PPE and/or branded workwear overhaul.
6. Trust your instincts as an auditor
If you are responsible for auditing your organisation’s PPE health, the likelihood is you’ll have an instinctive view of your overall status in terms of safety and compliance. If your audits reveal that PPE is stored incorrectly, not replenished in a timely manner, worn, obsolete or not fit for purpose, it’s time to implement some positive changes.
Take time to listen to your instincts and determine whether a more rigorous approach to operative safety may be important. Observe your team in the field and on the job and gain an impression of how they are equipped and trained to deploy PPE in a compliant and positive way. If you find something amiss, consider replenishing stock, selecting alternative products or scheduling in refresher training for your team to proactively prevent future incidents and accidents.
7. Let your provider help ascertain your PPE health
Finally, if all of this seems overwhelming and you’re not sure where to start to tackle PPE health in your firm, let your PPE provider support you. For example, at SMI we incorporate ongoing PPE and workwear auditing and analysis of use as standard for our customers.
One of our consultants can visit you and your team to identify any issues and suggest mitigation for potential risks. We can analyse trends in spending and ordering, and work with you to introduce more viable and cost-effective products.
Rather than leading to additional expenditure, this often realises economic efficiencies – and, most importantly, prevent incidents and accidents through non-compliant procurement and deployment of PPE across your organisation.