You Need It, You've Gotta Use It
At each of our discussions, there is generally one particular
phase of safety being stressed. The goal is to reduce the
number of disabling job injuries-which will benefit both you
and the organization.
Today the topic
is safety clothing and equipment designed for our personal
use as an important contributing factor toward safety. The
abuse, misuse, or nonuse of such equipment, on the other hand,
are contributing causes to many disabling injuries.
on the Job
type of equipment needed to provide the needed protection
depends on the particular type of work being done. In areas
where flying particles are likely to be found, goggles must
be used to protect the eyes. But this won't provide enough
eye protection for an electric welder; that job calls for
a helmet equipped with dark glasses to protect the worker's
eyes from the blinding light and the sparks from the electric
kind of protection safety shoes are supposed to provide determines
what type of shoe is appropriate. In other words, it must
be slip-proof, nonconductive, high-topped, steel-toed, etc.
And the type of safety helmet to be worn depends on the type
of hazard the wearer is likely to encounter. In some occupations
"bump caps" may be adequate; in many they are not.
established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration
for head, face, eye, hand, arm, and foot protection give a
very general overall description of when such protective gear
is to be used. (Hearing protection devices and respirators
of various kinds are covered by more extensive and specific
rules.) They also describe the standards the pieces of equipment
OSHA rules said only that the required personal protective
equipment must be provided (whether by employer or employee),
maintained, and worn. It was pretty much a matter of our
responsibility as employers to require the use of PPE and
your responsibility to actually use it. This made a certain
amount of sense because, after all, it's your eyes that can
be injured if your safety glasses are hanging around your
But then OSHA
apparently decided that too many injuries were occurring as
the result of failure to wear protective equipment. So their
revised rules call for what they refer to as a hazard analysis-to
make sure we systematically identify all the factors in our
work that would call for requiring PPE. On top of that, it's
become the employer's responsibility not just to state that
the equipment must be worn but to see to it that it is worn.
That's why supervisors
are now getting "on the backs" of employees who aren't wearing
the personal protective equipment they're supposed to, and
why disciplinary action is forthcoming.
But it's not just
a matter of compliance. It's because we really don't want
you to be injured. That's not totally unselfish-we don't
want you hurt, and we do want you on the job. That's why
we don't make exceptions or accept excuses. If you don't
need safety headgear on your own job, you must wear it if
you go to an area where falling objects may be a hazard.
If your gloves or goggles don't fit snugly or are uncomfortable,
don't just leave them in your locker. Report it promptly
so the situation can be corrected.
Remember: no excuses, no exceptions-and, we all hope,