Working safely: Beyond PPE

Remember Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is meant to be your last line of defense! Make sure to wear it, but don't let it be the only thing you do to stay safe both at work and home.

15 August 2017

Just before I was about to mow my yard last weekend I stopped myself. I had all my Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) on (e.g. gloves, safety glasses, etc.), but I remembered PPE is only meant to be my final layer of protection.  Had I really assessed hazards and risk and addressed these or did I think PPE would keep me safe?  It is easy to 'falsely rely' on only PPE.  So, I asked myself:

  • What other hazards and risks are there...before I mow?
  • What controls did I have in place to eliminate or manage these...besides PPE?
  • Did I trust these controls and did I feel I could work injury free?

Once I had addressed these questions, I was able to mow my yard without incident, confident I had done all I could to stay safe at home.

This line of proactive thinking applies to so many situations and locations such as at home, on vacation, while running daily errands, playing sports, etc.  Too often we become relaxed and rely on only one aspect of safety preparation when we should actually consider the whole picture – including the potential behavior of other people, our immediate surroundings, the environment, etc.

And what about feeling safe at work?  Remember to not get complacent and simply think that because you have your PPE on at the worksite that you are safe.  Ask yourself the same 3 simple questions mentioned above to help you truly think about the hazards, risk and safety measure you have in place BEFORE doing the task.

Working safely should be something we do every day – not only for ourselves, but also the people around us.  Whether we are working in an office setting or at a high risk environment such as a refinery, adhering to safety policies and procedures is important for everyone.  Safe working environments are developed by safety-minded people who promote a safe working culture using efficient and safe processes that are delivered effectively and sustained through assessment, training and improved working practices.

Any time is the perfect time to get started!

Michael LeBlanc is a Consultant Manager for Intertek Consulting & Training. His expertise is focusing on the "human side" of safety and safety culture and believes employees deserve to go home safe and healthy every day. Michael holds a masters in Social Work with MSW and LCSW accreditations; certified as a life coach; and author. For the past 14+ years, Michael has been consulting and training with international companies that perform high-risk work in over 25 countries with more than 25 companies. He's presented at various conferences on topics such as: Human Factors, Safety Leadership for supervisors, Sustaining Culture Change Efforts, Safety Culture Assessments and Hazard Awareness as it relates to stages of learning a new skill and will be presenting October 2017 at IADC's Human Factors Conference on 'Safety Culture and Performance Management.'