What is PPE, and Why Is It So Important?
Needless to say safety is a major concern for any worker but especially for those who labor in the janitorial industry. Custodial workers often neglect to use the proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when handing chemicals and using tools and equipment to perform even routine cleaning tasks, putting themselves at unnecessary risk for injuries, sometimes minor but also potentially life-threatening.
According to Vicky Adams, category manager for safety, gloves and foodservice products for Impact Products, “studies going back to 2007 find that full-time custodians are injured on the job sometimes as much as two times that of other workers in private industry.”
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines PPE as “equipment worn to minimize exposure to a variety of hazards.” Examples include the following:
- Gloves. In addition to infection control, gloves protect hands from chemicals and injuries, such as cuts from glass shards.
- Goggles. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, 90 percent of eye injuries could have been prevented by safety eyewear.
- Safety footwear. Protective shoes, like steel-toe boots, can effectively protect the feet from crushing injuries, punctures and electrical hazards.
- Earplugs. The World Health Organization estimates that 16 percent of hearing loss worldwide is caused by occupational noise exposure.
- Face Masks. Face Masks protect against inhalation of dangerous chemicals and the spread of infection.
- Safety harnesses. For those working at heights, safety harnesses can prevent a devastating fall.
Workers need to be trained on the proper use of PPE, and all PPE need to be cleaned and maintained regularly. It’s also important for workers who use the PPE to inform their supervisors of the need to repair or replace any PPE.
In addition to safeguarding a cleaning team against injury, the proper use of PPE can significantly impact compensation payouts for the facility manager if accidents occur. Healthy and safe workers make for a happier workforce and increased productivity.
At 4M, we regularly inspect for the availability of proper PPE for our Team Members. It’s just another way we deliver the best, innovative, safe and sustainable cleaning and service solutions for your business. To learn more, give us a call or CLICK HERE to contact us.