Every day is a learning day, training, re-confirming, sharing. And there is no discipline more important to keep abreast of than that of Health & Safety.

Today, we look at 5 key items of PPE crucial to the industry and to the safety of our engineers.

It’s true that there has been a significant reduction in reported workplace injuries in recent years, much of the improvements resulting from regulations in PPE standards and application and general workplace standards. There were still 123 deaths caused by work related accidents in 2021/2022 according to the HSE.

Appropriate Risk Assessment, correct and functioning PPE, training and re-training are all essential provisions to protect our engineers at work.

DID YOU KNOW

Hierarchy of Conrols:

PPE should be regarded as the last resort to protect against risks to health and safety. Engineering controls and safe systems of work should be considered first.

Consider controls in the following order, with elimination being the most effective and PPE being the least effective:

  • Elimination – physically remove the hazard
  • Substitution – replace the hazard
  • Engineering controls – isolate people from the hazard
  • Administrative controls – change the way people work
  • PPE – protect the worker with personal protective equipment

Day 1 – Safety Harnesses

As electrical contractors often working in large commercial spaces and distribution hubs, working at height is an almost daily occurence. Beyond the reach of steps come the MEWPs. The most significant MEWP dangers arise from the operation and use of the machine, rather than from their movement as a site vehicle. The law says that these hazards must be properly managed and addressed in Risk Assessment.

One of the main hazards is falling from height. Not surprisingly, one of the main objectives is arresting falls – this is where the harness comes in.

A safety harness is a pretty simple piece of equipment. In its simplest form, a safety harness is a system of restraints designed to prevent the user from falling from a height. Safety harnesses also greatly reduce the risk of injury if they were to fall from height.

Once the user is wearing the harness they attach it to a solid, stationary object. Should they fall for whatever reason, the harness and the fall protection system will prevent ground impact.

But, you can’t just take a harness off the shelf and think that’s it, job done. Safety harnesses, when combined with sufficient working at height practice, reduce the likelihood of an incident occurring. Inspection, maintenance, training and reminders through Toolbox Talks are essential contributions to protect employers from the risk of injury and death.

A key question you should / must consider: Can a brand new harness be used straight away?

  • Only is there is a current harness assessment in place, which often there isn’t.
  • And once you have checked it is the right harness for the user(s)’ – size, weight etc
  • And only after the engineers have been trained on how to wear it / fit it / use it.
  • And ongoing? Check, inspect, re-train, toolbox talks etc etc. Be safe

See the article The Safety Harness for more information.

Day 2 – Hi Visibility Clothing.

Employers are required to provide hi-vis clothing to their employees and their employees are required to wear it.

High visibility clothing is designed to make the wearer more visible and more noticeable in their work environment. High visibility clothing is considered personal protective equipment (PPE) in the work environment and will carry an ANSI/ISEA label explaining garment characteristics.

As with any PPE, inspection, maintenance and training to ensure proper use and safety are ongoing requirements of JGF personnel.

Hi-vis clothing should be comfortable and fit the wearer properly, without restricting their movement.

Employer responsibility:

  • To provide HV clothing FOC
  • To check its cleanliness and suitability.
  • Provide adequate instruction, information and training so that it is worn correctly.
  • Supervise to check that it is being worn correctly.

The vest can be a mesh, solid material, or some combination of the two, helping workers stay cool on a hot day. We give all our engineers Class 1 mesh zip fastening hi-vis jackets and insist they are zipped at all times.

DID YOU KNOW

Employer responsibilities regarding the supply, training and maintenance of PPE were amended (extended) under the PPE at Work (Amended) Regulations 2022 (PPER 2022). This extended the ’92 regs (PPER 1992) to include responsibilities for Limb (b) workers as well as the regulations provided for Limb (a) workers.

  • Limb (a) are those directly employed under a full contract of employment.
  • Limb (b) are casual or temporary workers. These were not covered under PPER 1992 but are under PPER 2022.

In short, you are responsible for the supply and training of appropriate PPE for your casual workers too.

For full guidance from the HSE, read more HERE.

Day 3 – Hard Hats

Hard hats are required when working in areas where there is a potential for injury to the head from falling objects, bumps against fixed objects, and technically, contact with live electrical conductors.

Such head protection is regulated to EN 397, designed to ptotect the wearer from falling objects. JGF workers are most at risk when working on the ground below colleagues working at height. Banksmen providint ground assistance to a colleague in the MEWP are particularly at risk.

We are trialling Bump Caps at the moment for situations where stationary structures pose a risk to the head, such as working around low ceilings, pipework, caging etc. As they are intended to protect against bumps and scrapes from static objects, bump caps are tested with an impact energy of only 12J.

Hard hats used as part of JGF’s PPE are selected for regulation standards. They must all have chin straps. While in an assessed hard hat environment, those straps must be correctly fastened at all times.

Wearing a hat or hoodie underneath a hard hat may seem a logical comfort or warmth factor but, a cap or hood can affect the effectiveness of the helmet’s protection strapping and chin strap.

Don’t do it guys.

Day 4 – Gloves

Our hands are amazingly tools. We use them every day, so much so we can take their value and fragility for granted. They can be exposed to a multitude of hazards in the workplace which, in worst case scenarios, result in serious injuries.

There is a very real cost to the employee, and also to the employer. In 2019 – 2020, there were over 16,000 non-fatal workplace injuries affecting the hand and wrist; 25% of all non-fatal injuries in fact. Of those, over 11,000 instances resulted in the worker needing over seven days’ absence. Injuries end up costing employers in terms of lost productivity, repairs and remedial work and incidence investigation, amounting to an estimated £1.3 billion per year.

According to studies, gloves can reduce hand injuries by up to 60%.

Specifying gloves that provide workers with the appropriate protection can be crucial in helping to keep their hands safe, but often wearing gloves makes tasks easier and more efficient too.

The general requirement for safety gloves is EN420, which functions as a symbol of authentication for high-quality safety gloves. It’s the basic standard for all types of safety gloves, covering everything from a disposable medical glove to a fully heat-resistant glove for soldering.

The protection level is indicated by a number between 1 and 5, where 5 indicates the highest level of cut protection.

We have standardised the gloves provided as part of our engineers’ PPE. Again, training and inspection are a crucial part of ensuring all PPE is fit for purpose and being used appropriately.

Day 5 – Lock Off Kit

We were discussing Health & Safety last week (it’s a regular discussion point in our fortnightly Leadership Team meetings) and reviewed our LOTO policies. Even around the table, although the purpose of the acronym was universally confirmed, the actual ‘O’ and ‘O’ had mixed results.

LOTO – Lock Out / Tag Out

An efficient, well-practiced Lockout Tagout (LOTO) procedure is the most effective preventative solution.

The difference between lock out and tag out is the device used. The lockout device stops employees from operating the equipment while the tagout device informs them that the equipment should not be operated. Essentially, a tagout device is the second layer of protection against unsafe equipment operation while a lockout device is the first layer.

The LOTO Rules of Isolation are:

  • Obtain permission to start work (a Permit may be required in some situations)
  • Identify the source(s) of supply using an approved voltage indicator or test lamp
  • Prove that the approved voltage indicator or test lamp is functioning correctly
  • Isolate the supply(s)
  • Secure the isolation
  • Prove the system/equipment is DEAD using an approved voltage indicator or test lamp
  • Prove that the approved voltage indicator or test lamp is functioning correctly
  • Put up warning signs to tell other people that the electrical installation has been isolated
  • Once the system/equipment is proved DEAD, work can begin.

For more information, see our article – It’s LOTO, not a LOTTO.

STAY SAFE – KEEP LEARNING