One size does not fit all

Health, Safety and Wellbeing July 18, 2018

Andrew Johnson, safety, health and environment manager at Envirolab (an RSK company), has featured in the latest issue of Health & Safety International (HSI), discussing the issues associated with sourcing and purchasing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). HSI is published five times a year and is Europe’s largest audited safety magazine. The July 2018 issue is the publication’s annual procurement guide edition. Andrew’s article introduces HSI’s guide to PPE procurement.

In the article, entitled ‘One size does not fit all’, Andrew discusses the importance of procuring PPE that is accessible to different shapes and sizes, and the safety risks associated with ill-fitting and uncomfortable PPE.

“The most common question I am asked when ordering safety footwear is ‘Do the suppliers do half sizes?’ and, unfortunately, the answer is no,” Andrew explains. “As health and safety practitioners, we need to ensure that PPE fits correctly, is comfortable for the time it will be worn and that it passes all the relevant tests. If the available options are ill-fitting and uncomfortable, people may choose not to wear appropriate PPE, thus putting their health and safety at risk.

“When alternative garments can be sourced however, the options must be made available to employees and supported by staff at all levels,” says Andrew. “Making the options visible to employees through proper communication and safety briefings is an important part of the procurement process. Senior management and those in charge of the purse strings must also support the procurement of PPE to suit all. When it comes to PPE, the cheaper alternatives are not always the economical options, as they may not last as long, may not be as comfortable and accommodating to different shapes and sizes, and may contribute, therefore, to an employee’s reasons not to wear them, thus jeopardising health and safety overall.

“To ensure the suitability and safety of PPE for all, all employees at all levels must be on board,” Andrew concludes.

You can read Andrew’s article in full on the Health & Safety International website.