Some occupations require the use of special gear that is designed to protect workers in different environments and situations. This type of gear is called Personal Protective Equipment or PPE. The type needed to do a specific job may vary based on the demands and duties of that role. Some workers come in contact with potentially harmful vapours while others may work with or around flammable material like oil and gas. Others must manage the risks of electricity while on the job.
Worker Safety & Common Sense
It would seem like common sense that an employer would want to protect their employees by providing all the PPE required for each job in their operation. What’s unsettling is the number of people who are expected to do their jobs without PPE. A report recently uncovered that out of 500 people who worked in industries that include exposure to fire hazards, 28% do not wear fire resistant clothing while performing their duties.
Fire resistant clothing is manufactured using material that extinguishes flame and will not burn. So why are these individuals not protecting themselves when fire resistant clothing exists? There are a few common reasons given for not using PPE:
- The employer does not require fire resistant clothing
- The cost of PPE is too high to afford or justify
- It is too hot to wear the PPE comfortably at the job site
Employer PPE Obligations
So who is responsible for ensuring that workers have the PPE they need each day? An employer is expected to provide all the PPE needed to perform job duties safely. They must also make sure that PPE is always in functional condition and replace anything that is damaged or not functioning as required. Common types of PPE include:
- Vests, life jackets, & other garments
- Boots & gloves
- Goggles, helmets, & sun hats
- Ear muffs, ear plugs, & other hearing protection
In order to reduce the risk of injury on the job, all employers are expected to:
- Provide PPE that’s suitable for the type of work performed
- Provide PPE that fits properly with reasonable comfort
- Ensure that PPE is properly maintained and replaced or repaired when needed
- Ensure that PPE remains clean and hygienic
- Make sure that employees wear PPE as required
Along with the above requirements, employers are also expected to supply PPE related training to employees. This should cover instructions on how and when to wear each piece of equipment as well as proper storage and maintenance related information.
A worker may be eligible to receive compensation if they are injured on the job. This is especially true in situations where the employer did not provide adequate PPE. If you submit a workplace injury claim, you may be eligible to receive compensation for:
- Pain & suffering
- Current & future Out of pocket expenses
- Current & future lost wages
- Lost superannuation funds
If you have questions about PPE, speak to your employer to find answers and ensure that you have everything you need to work safely each day.