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Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

PPE refers to anything used or worn to minimise risk to workers’ health and safety. It includes:

  • boots
  • ear plugs
  • face masks
  • gloves
  • goggles
  • hard hats
  • high visibility clothing
  • respirators
  • safety harnesses
  • safety shoes
  • sunscreen
  •  and others.

Risk Management According to the WHS Regulations require businesses to follow a hierarchy of risk control measure when managing a risk. Although PPE is ranked as one of the least effective safety control measures or a level 5 control measure, its importance in the workplace cannot be downplayed.

  • Level 5 control measures rely more on human behaviour and supervision rather than controlling the hazard at the source. PPE can be a great addition to ensure the health and safety for workers in the workplace but cannot be substituted entirely by other more important hazard control requirements.

PPE is most effective when it is used in addition to higher-level control measures or when no other safety measures are available. Before resorting to PPE, a risk assessment needs to be conducted to see what other controls can and should be used.

Levels

Work Health and safety duties According to WHS laws, PCBUs must implement control measures in place if it is not practicable to eliminate a health and safety risk in the workplace. Control measures can include PPE as an interim or last resort. Where PPE needs to be used, it must be:

  • Selected to reduce risk to health and safety, including ensuring the equipment is:
  • suitable for the nature of the work or hazard
  • a suitable size and fit for the individual who is required to use it and that it is reasonably comfortable.
  • Maintained, repaired or replaced, which includes ensuring the equipment is:
  • clean and hygienic
  • in good working order.
  • Used or worn by the worker, so far as is reasonably practical.

A  PCBU must:

  • consult with their workers when selecting PPE
  • ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, that the PPE is used or worn by the worker
  • provide the worker with information, training and instruction in the proper use and wearing of PPE and its storage and maintenance.

PPE must be provided by a PCBU unless it has already been provided by another one. The legal requirements of businesses in relation to PPE are set out in regulations 36, 44 and 45 of the WHS Regulations.

Worker responsibilities

According to regulation 46 of the WHS Regulations, the duties of workers include:

  • using or wearing the PPE according to any information, training or instruction provided by the PCBU, as far as they reasonably can.
  • Not intentionally misusing or damaging the PPE.
  • Promptly informing the business of any damage, defect or need to clean or decontaminate the PPE.
  • Informing their managers if the PPE is not comfortable, does not fit properly or if experiencing adverse reaction while using it.

A business can take action against the worker if the latter refuses to wear or use the PPE. If a worker intentionally misuses or damages the PPE, he or she may face disciplinary action or prosecution.

How Can We Help?

You can order your PPE equipment online from us 24/7!

Online store

Part of being a complete solutions provider, Hive Noise Solutions is able to supply you with a full range of high quality Personal Protection Equipment.

Browse the Personal Protective Equipment from our online store: http://safety-products.com.au/

For more information on PPE, please see Safe Work Australia Publication: https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/ppe

Noise Reduction in Workplace

Noise reduction1

Work-related noise-induced hearing loss is a preventable but irreversible condition that affects many Australian workers.
 Between 28–32% of the Australian workforce is likely to work in an environment where they are exposed to loud noise at work.

 Noise-related injuries are most common in the manufacturing and construction industries with technicians and trades workers, machinery operators, drivers and labourers most exposed.
Too much noise at work can lead to temporary or permanent hearing loss or tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Hearing damage can occur from extended exposure to noise or exposure to very loud impact or explosive sounds.
 Long term exposure to loud noise is the most common preventable cause of hearing loss.

According to WHS Regulations, the exposure standard for noise involves two measures:
 LAeq,8h of 85 dB(A)
 LC, peak of 140 dB(C).

LAeq,8h of 85 dB(A) implies that over an eight-hour shift a worker cannot be exposed to more than 85 decibels. Whether this is exceeded depends on the level of noise involved and how long a worker is exposed to it.
LC, peak of 140 dB(C) means a worker cannot be exposed to a noise level above 140 decibels. Peak noise levels greater than this usually occur with impact or explosive noise for instance, a gun-short or a sledge-hammering. Any exposure above this peak can create almost instant damage to hearing.

 These limits should protect most but not all people. The risks from workplace noise must be eliminated or minimised so far as is reasonably practicable.
Ideally, you should keep noise levels below:
 50 decibels if your work requires high concentration or effortless conversation
 70 decibels if your work is routine, fast-paced and demands attentiveness or if it is important to carry on conversations.
Managing risks
If you have a noisy workplace with any noisy activities that may expose workers to hazardous noise levels, you should assess the risks by carrying out a noise assessment.
A noise assessment will help you:
 identify which workers are at risk of hearing loss
 determine what noise sources and processes are causing that risk
 identify if and what kind of noise control measures could be implemented
 check the effectiveness of existing control measures.

Complex situations may need measurement to determine a worker’s exposure to noise, such as workplaces with variable noise levels over a shift and jobs where workers move in and out of noisy areas. A noise assessment should be done by a qualified Health and Safety Professional in accordance with the procedures in AS/NZS 1269.1.

Steps to control noise in a workplace

The WHS Regulations require PCBUs to work through a hierarchy of control to choose the measure that eliminates or most effectively minimises the risks in the given situations.

 The most effective control measure is to eliminate the source of noise completely.

 If you cannot eliminate the noise, look at reducing it.
Remember that actions to eliminate or minimise noise may introduce new hazards, and risks associated with those hazards need to be managed effectively.
Other ways to minimise noise include:
 Engineering controls: These are common control measures and involve modifying equipment to reduce noise at the source or alternatively place barriers of plywood around the noise source. Barriers can also be placed along the transmission path to minimise noise levels or they can be placed around the worker to prevent noise exposure.

 Administrative controls: These involve using noisy machines during shifts where lesser people are exposed, limiting the amount of time a person spends near a noise source, moving workers away from the noise source to reduce their exposure or providing quiet areas where workers can be relieved from hazardous noise sources.

 PPE: Personal hearing protectors such as ear-muffs or ear-plugs should be used: when the risks arising from exposure to noise can’t be eliminated or minimised by other more effective control measures

o as an interim measure until other control measures are implemented
o where extra protection is needed above what has been achieved using other noise control measures.
The risk of occupational noise-induced hearing loss is increased by relying too much on, and improperly using, personal hearing protectors such as ear muffs and plugs.
Audiometric testing
According to WHS Regulations, a PCBU must provide audiometric testing for a worker who is carrying out work if they are required to regularly use personal hearing protectors as a control measure for noise that exceeds the exposure standard.
 Audiometric testing must be provided within three months of a worker starting work that exposes them to a risk of work related noise-induced hearing loss.
Starting the audiometric testing before people are exposed to hazardous noise (such as new starters or those changing jobs) provides a baseline as a reference for future audiometric test results.
Regular follow-up tests must be carried out at least every two years. These should be carried out well into the work shift so that any temporary hearing loss can be identified.
How Can We Help?
HIVE Noise Solutions can help you by assessing the noise level in your workplace and we also provide tailored advice on complying with the laws in your state. Our consultants are certified OHS professionals who can help with audiometric assessment or hearing tests of the exposed workers. Hive Noise Solutions offers simple, affordable noise compliance solutions based on your requirements.

Contact us on 1300 889 289 to have more information about noise assessment and audiometric assessment.

For more information, see Safe Work Australia Publication: https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/noise

 

Working in cold weather

Working in cold weather

Some workers are required to work outdoors in cold weather for extended periods, for example, construction workers, garbage collectors, police officers and emergency workers, like firefighters, and many others. These workers are inevitably more prone to cold stress.

Working in rain

Figure 1: Emergency worker working in rain

Cold stress occurs by driving down the skin temperature followed by the core body temperature. This may lead to serious health problems and can cause tissue damage and even death in some situations.

The most frequent cold induced illnesses or injuries include:

  • Hypothermia
  • Frostbite
  • Trench Foot

Hypothermia:

Hypothermia is a condition that occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce heat, causing a dangerously low body temperature. Normal body temperature is around 37 °C. Hypothermia occurs when your body temperature falls below 35 °C, for example when a person becomes drenched from rain or submersion in cold weather.

Frostbite:

It is an injury to the body that is caused by freezing of the skin and underlying tissues. The lower the temperature, the quicker the frostbite will occur. Frostbite typically affects the extremities, particularly the feet and hands. The symptoms are reddened skin with grey to white patches, numbness and blisters can occur in affected areas. In severe cases, amputation may be required.

Trench foot or Immersion foot:

Trench foot is a painful condition of the feet caused by long immersion in cold water or mud and is marked by blackening and death of surface tissue. It can occur at temperatures up to 15°C if the feet are constantly wet. Non-freezing injury happens since wet feet lose heat 25-times quicker than dry feet. To avoid heat loss, the body constricts the blood vessels to decrease circulation in the feet. Consequently, the skin tissues can die due to a lack of oxygen supply and nutrients and due to the accumulation of toxic products. The symptoms of trench foot include redness of the skin, swelling, numbness and blisters.

Precautions:

If you work outside, you may be at risk of exposure to extreme cold. Your workplace must have measures in place manage the risks to your health and safety cause by exposure to cold weather, including:

  • providing heating, for example cab heaters
  • providing protection, such as a hut or the cabin of a vehicle
  • providing warm and waterproof clothing including eye and face protection, head protection and gloves.
  • enabling workers who are not used to working in cold conditions to acclimatise.Eliminating or reducing exposure to cold is the best protection.

Winter wear

Figure 2: Winter wear for workers

Browse the Personal Protective Equipment from our online store to shield yourself and your workers from the cold weather: https://www.safety-products.com.au/

For more information on working in the cold, please see Safe Work Australia Publication:

https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/doc/model-code-practice-managing-work-environment-and-facilities

Slips, trips and falls

Slips, trips and falls 

With the onset of this wet and cold weather, it is definitely a prime time for slips, trips and falls for people of all ages, in all occupations, indoors and outdoors.

Slips are the result of too little friction or a lack of traction between the footwear and the floor surface.

A trip is the result of a foot striking or colliding with an object, which causes a loss in balance, and usually a fall.

slips-trips

Figure 1: Slip, trip and fall

Each year slips, trips and falls result in thousands of preventable injuries. The most common ones are musculoskeletal injuries, cuts, bruises, fractures and dislocations, but more serious injuries can also happen.

Over the 12 years between 2003–15, slips, trips or falls:

  • caused the death of 386 workers
  • led to 23% of serious claims
  • were caused by environmental factors 56% of the time.

Environmental factors can include slippery surfaces following rain or spills, poorly designed or maintained walkways, poor lighting on stairs and walkways and trip hazards for example from poorly stored materials.

HOW TO MAKE SIGNIFICANT IMPROVEMENTS?

You should consider the design of floors, stairs, lighting, drainage and storage.

Work procedures can also impact on the incidence of slips and trips. For example, develop procedures that avoid the build-up of rubbish throughout a production process.

When selecting and buying footwear, think about whether it has good slip resistance properties along with any other safety features you need. For example:

  • In wet conditions the shoe sole tread pattern should be deep enough to help penetrate the surface water and make direct contact with the floor.
  • In dry conditions the shoe sole tread pattern should be a flat bottom construction that grips the floor with maximum contact area.
  • Urethane and rubber soles are more effective than vinyl and leather soles for slip resistance. Sole materials that have tiny cell like features will be slip resistant.

A risk analysis and strong policy around what is acceptable footwear for the job being performed will help prevent slips, trips and falls

For more information on slips, trips and falls, see Safe Work Australia Publication: https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/system/files/documents/1702/slips_and_trips_fact_sheet.pdf