The Gear You Need

Keeping workers safe and secure should always be considered a fundamental part of any business operation. No one can argue with the fact that workplace safety is important, yet it’s often unintentionally overlooked, leaving workers and others on the job site exposed to risk. A safer workplace is also necessary for maintaining productivity, higher morale and regulatory compliance. It’s the right thing to do.

Safety is everyone’s responsibility, but it’s ultimately up to management to make it part of the overall company culture and to provide the necessary equipment and training. Here are some elements to consider:

Planning & Training

Having the right safety equipment in-place is a good start, but it won’t do you much good in an emergency if no one knows how to use it. Proper emergency planning and preparedness is the key if your goal is to maintain a safe workplace.

The first step would be to conduct an overall safety audit and job hazard analysis for each of the roles within the workforce. This would include both the day-to-day routines and what steps would need to be taken in the event of an injury or emergency situation. Include key management and representative front-line workers in the process. Consult with local, regional and federal health & safety specialists to ensure regulatory compliance. Know your responsibilities, what training protocols are necessary and what documentation you need on an ongoing basis.

Training your staff will follow, with a comprehensive program targeted at management and both new and veteran workers. It would include individual job safety, emergency procedures and responsibilities, safety equipment and PPE (personal protective equipment) and reporting.

Safety Equipment Essentials

Based on the workplace and job-function audit, you will put safety equipment into place that corresponds to the potential hazards present on a daily basis. The type and amount of the equipment required will be dependent on the nature of the work performed, the number of workers, and the size of the workplace itself. Having one, small first aid kit for instance, isn’t going to be sufficient to cover hundreds of workers in a large industrial or outdoor job site.

Aside from any consultations with health & safety experts about specific equipment, it will also be important to utilize the vendor or supplier of that equipment for additional information about performance and tolerances. Getting the right equipment for the job is critical and you won’t want to compromise on quality. It’s also important to actively manage the entire lifecycle of your equipment, whereby any item with a ‘best before’ or expiry date is documented and replaced where necessary. This could apply to any number of things from fire extinguishers, to chemical showers, eye wash stations or hard hats.

For the various types of workplace safety scenarios, there are many different kinds of equipment available. We’ll break them down into 3 main categories:

Jobsite Basics

  • Fire safety equipment
  • Fall protection
  • MSDS sheets for specific information about caustic, flammable or explosive materials
  • Signs & postings related to safety warnings or procedural instruction
  • Lock-outs & security for energized equipment
  • Railings / barriers / traffic cones
  • Machine guarding to avoid accidental mishaps
  • Noise meters to help manage hearing protection
  • Thermometers to gauge extremes for heat and cold
  • Gas detectors (where applicable) to ensure atmospheric safety
  • Reflective vests for worker visibility
  • Non-slip flooring to avoid falls
  • Warning lights and audio for emergency notification
  • Housekeeping supplies / spill control
  • Segregation areas for compressed gas tanks / chemicals
  • Ventilation equipment and fume hoods to maintain adequate air quality and to vent harmful vapours
  • Confined space gear & rescue equipment

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

PPE is meant to keep you safe in the event that workplace engineering or administrative initiatives haven’t completely eliminated a particular hazard. Certain job junctions will always require some form of protection, but your own personal gear shouldn’t be seen as the only line of defense when you’re on the job. PPE would include:

  • Protective clothing
  • Hearing protection
  • Face & eye protection
  • Safety footwear
  • Hard hats
  • Masks / ventilators

If you have visitors to your facility or job site, you must have adequate gear available for them as well. This would usually mean spare hard hats and eye protection, but could also include other items. Be sure to check with local authorities to ensure that you’re meeting the requirements.

For a complete overview of Personal Protective Equipment, check the January 2014 edition of SafetyLink.

First Aid

Even with all the precautionary measures in-place to prevent accidents, you have to accept the fact that they do happen. Your first aid and emergency response equipment and the training of designated attendants can make all the difference.

Details of first aid regulations differ from province to province, but the law ensures that workers receive immediate care in case of workplace injury or illness. Check your province’s local requirements for first aid kits, training programs and procedures to ensure complete compliance of government regulations.

Some first aid/medical emergency essentials would include:

  • Well-stocked first aid kits (per provincial regulation for type and number)
  • Eye wash stations
  • Chemical / decontamination showers
  • Back-boards
  • Stretchers
  • Neck braces
  • Burn dressings
  • Splints
  • Oxygen resuscitation kits
  • Defibrillators
  • Blankets (for hypothermia response and shock)

With good planning, training and the proper facility equipment and PPE in-place, hopefully you won’t have as much need for the first aid supplies. In any case, it’s best to be prepared all around.

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