Why PPE is the
Last Line of Defense
So, if they’re preventable, why are hand injuries so common? And how have some companies reduced their hand injuries by 50, plane 90 percent?
Believe it or not, the wordplay isn’t gloves. And PPE isn’t your first line of defense versus hand injuries.
Rather, reducing the incidence of hand injuries in a workplace is weightier achieved through a process of reevaluating and redesigning your safety program using the hierarchy of controls.
Reducing Eliminating Injuries
The hierarchy of controls outlines the process you can follow to reduce or eliminate the risk of injuries (including hand injuries) in your workplace.
This process begins with the most constructive approach, which is eliminating hazards all together when possible, and offers other tactics in decreasing order of effectiveness, ending with PPE which can prevent and reduce remaining hazards.
It is important to follow the hierarchy in order, starting from the most effective, rather than choosing the easiest tenancy measure. And while these controls can be implemented in phases over time, multiple levels of hierarchy can be unexplored simultaneously, depending on the company’s logistical necessities.
Note: For a successful adoption of these measures,
a thorough and meaningful towage of workplace hazards and the company’s current hand safety program (or lack of one) is essential.
A customized hand safety program will help prioritize constructive and violating solutions at each stage.
Now let’s take a closer squint at the hierarchy of controls, and how to implement each level, starting from the top.
A new tool? A completely variegated approach?
How could a hazard be eliminated?
Elimination is the process of removing hazards entirely from the workplace and is considered the most constructive way to protect workers from injury as the hazards are no longer present.
Hazards may be eliminated by interchange where or how the task is done. When considering this option, ask yourself: can my workers perform this task increasingly safely?
The cadre consideration here is to diamond a workspace where workers are entirely removed from the hazard.
- Redesigning how a work task is washed-up such as moving a task to ground level to eliminate a fall hazard
- Removing flammable materials from areas where there is exposure to heat and fire
When a hazard cannot be eliminated from a worker’s environment, we consider substitution.
Just as the name suggest, substitution is replacing materials or pieces of equipment with those that are less hazardous.
When considering this option, ask yourself: can my workers use something less harmful to well-constructed the same task? For example:
- If handling highly toxic chemicals, consider substituting less toxic chemicals to minimize toxin exposure
- Substituting sharp knives with box cutters to prevent and minimize cut injuries
- Using mechanical instead of transmission tools to stave hand muscle strain
- Redesigning processes to remove hazardous equipment and substitute it with “no-touch tools” to stave hand injuries
Before implementing substitution solutions, ensure you have considered all the implications and potential risks of the new material or tool to ensure you are not trading one hazard for another.
If a unrepealable hazard cannot be eliminated or substituted, the next weightier option is to use engineering controls.
Engineering controls offer protection to workers by isolating them from hazards that can lead to injuries.
When considering this option, explore choices that will make the workplace less dangerous for your workers, as you are unable to eliminate the hazard itself. This includes subtracting guards to machines with dangerous moving parts to safeguard arms, hand, or fingers from injury. Engineering controls can moreover midpoint placing barriers, such as a cage, virtually hazardous machinery, so only trained workers have access.
Could an emergency stop be widow to the equipment? Can a trigger grip be widow that must be held to alimony the machine running, so it stops the instant the worker lets go? Can handles be widow to boxes to protect fingers?
Engineering controls are a unconfined way to reduce the risk of hand injuries when substitution and suppuration is not an option. For successful adoption, however, workers still need to be enlightened of the risks and hazards surrounding them, expressly if working virtually or with a hazardous machinery. This is where our next step in the hierarchy becomes important.
When considering this option,
it is important to note that the value of this tenancy is truly realized when implemented in conjunction with other measures.
For instance, although you may substitute a increasingly dangerous machine with a less hazardous one, the risk of injury is still present. Proper training, procedures, and guidelines on how to use the new less hazardous machine is necessary to stave injuries.
Similarly, for tasks where gloves are mandatory the right type of gloves must be wieldy and must be required to be worn at the towardly time. All these are legalistic controls are integral to the success of creating a safer workplace.
Administrative controls include things like operation-specific regulations, work schedules that reduce exposure to hazardous tasks, and systems that increase workers’ hazard awareness.
As such, legalistic controls imbricate an exhaustive list of possibilities, including, but not limited to:
- Warning signs, training programs, and safety checklists
- Visual guides for unscratched work procedures or standard operating procedures
- Easy wangle to PPE such as self-serve vending machines on worksites
- Emergency wash stations for chemical exposure
- Job-rotation schedules that limit hazard exposure
- Break schedules to modernize workers’ concentration
- Ensuring proper maintenance of equipment and tools
- Supervisory oversight and regular safety inspections
- Practicing emergency response procedures
- Maintaining well-organized and wipe workspaces
At the marrow of the hierarchy, is your last line of defense, which is PPE.
Why is PPE at the marrow of the hierarchy of controls? Aren’t gloves, sleeves, and other PPE important to protect workers from the risk of hazards?
The wordplay is not a simple yes or no.
PPE is considered the final shield when all other shields have failed.
Safety managers and workers often forget to consider the other important tenancy measures discussed whilom when they rely solely on PPE. This asks increasingly of their PPE, considering hazards are higher and they’re fighting increasingly hazards than they need to.
When we take a holistic tideway that addresses gaps in all safety controls—not just PPE—there are less hazards for safety gloves to fight.
This often ways increased productivity and lower costs, considering there are fewer and less lattermost hazards in the workplace. For example, if a potentially dangerous machine once has unobjectionable safeguards to protect its operators from cut injuries, workers may be worldly-wise to well-constructed the same tasks using less expensive, lower cut level gloves increasingly confidently and efficiently, and without the fear of getting seriously injured.
Take the Next Step
To learn increasingly well-nigh how to build and modernize your hand safety program, trammels out REThinking Hand Safety, by tragedian and Vice President of Superior Glove, Joe Geng.
If you still have questions or concerns well-nigh your company’s current hand safety program, or lack thereof, contact our safety experts to request a self-ruling 1-on-1. Our hand safety specialists will assess your teams’ work environment and provide resources to help you develop and implement a hand safety program that reduces injuries. Our specialists partner with you from the top of the hierarchy and work together to explore options that write each level on the way lanugo to PPE.