For an employer or manager, worker health and safety are among the most important responsibilities you will have. Poor health and safety pose a risk to your valued employees, but a single case of contagious illness can also wreak havoc across your whole operation. The current coronavirus pandemic poses an especially dangerous threat, and it is in everyone’s interest to encourage proper PPE usage and safety practices.
Moreover, as states continue to uphold regulations regarding masks and sanitation, appropriate PPE can be a matter of law and personal concern. So you must take the proper measures in your own business to protect your workers and your corporation and maintain responsible practices. Here are five tips for handling your workers’ health and safety regarding PPE.
1 | Know the regulations for your area and industry
When it comes to PPE, there is no single standard for what type to use. N95 respirators have gotten a lot of attention throughout COVID-19, but it is not a simple case of one model being “better” than another. With the additional protection an N95 respirator offers, there is also more strain on the wearer. It’s often overkill for say, a business office where people mostly keep to their own spaces.
Fortunately, not every situation calls for the highest-rated respirators. In many cases, cloth face masks are adequate and considerably less expensive than something like an N95 respirator, and much more comfortable to wear. Start by learning about different types of PPE, then ensure you are sourcing the recommended items for your company’s specific operation. For more info, read our previous article on types of PPE and finding PPE suppliers.
2 | Educate your workers on safe practices
Knowing the repercussions of not adhering to health and safety regulations is a simple way of encouraging them to do the right thing. Most workers who are reluctant to wear adequate PPE are often unaware of the risks involved. By educating them on those risks, you may find that they are considerably less likely to flout any health and safety rules you have in place at your business.
3 | Have peer representatives
Having a peer health and safety representative is an excellent way to ensure health and safety rules are followed. With a peer representative, your employees are less likely to see regulations as unnecessary rules from on high. They will have someone they can talk to about these matters, and someone who can keep an eye out for those who do not adequately protect themselves and those around them.
4 |Training and Availability
When it comes to PPE, do not skimp on the quantities of equipment available. You should always have enough PPE for all of your employees, plus spares in the event of malfunctions or breakages. Furthermore, you must provide any necessary training that comes along with that PPE.
5 | Enforce health and safety policies
All said, our workforces consist of individuals with their own opinions of what constitutes “safe enough.” The law does not do a lot of mitigating for workers choosing not to use proper PPE, and the onus should not always fall to their at-risk colleagues to enforce safe behavior.
If you are required by law to provide specific PPE for your employees, you must make sure they use that PPE. Not only for their health but to protect your business. Because viral risks require different PPE types, it doesn’t make masks any less crucial than steel-toed boots or hardhats. PPE exists for everyone’s protection.
If your current employee conduct policies do not have contingencies for dealing with non-compliance, now is the time to write it. Educate your workers on what these policies look like and what the repercussions will be if they repeatedly refuse to wear the proper PPE while on company property.