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Who is responsible for ensuring protective equipment is used?

By: Grant King – IndustrySearch Writer
11 June, 2015

Personal protective equipment, otherwise known as PPE, is basically any protective gear worn by workers to help minimise the risk of injury.

It includes such items as high visibility clothing, hard hats, earplugs, gloves, boots, safety harnesses and respirators, but is far from a complete answer to worker safety. In fact PPE should always be used in conjunction with other far more effective safety controls wherever possible. This article outlines the responsibilities of the site operator and your obligations when it comes to PPE use.   

The buck, boots and everything else stops with you

That's right, if PPE is required to be worn on your site and you are the operator of that site, it's your responsibility to make sure it's worn by all workers. Even if a main contractor is actually providing your PPE, it still rests with you to make sure they do.

Provide it, pay for it, but don't charge for it

It is an offence to charge workers for PPE either directly or indirectly. It must be provided free of charge by you or your contractors. You can, however, give your workers a PPE allowance so they can buy it themselves. Just make sure the gear they buy meets the minimum standards required by work health and safety laws. And only pay for the gear stipulated. Work pants are not PPE!

Now make sure they wear it

Worksites can be hot, sweaty places at the best of times without being lumbered with a bunch of extra stuff to wear all day. So it's understandable if your workers might surreptitiously try to compromise a bit of their own safety in the interests of comfort. Sorry, they can't. In fact, they can be prosecuted if they do. As site operator you must make sure your workers know PPE is non-negotiable and continuously monitor them to ensure they comply. If they complain that their PPE doesn't fit properly, replace it with something that does.

Train it, maintain it

Some PPE, such as harnesses and respirators, requires training to ensure it's not only used properly, but that it's not misused – that can also lead to prosecution. Make sure all your workers receive the right training for the PPE required to help keep them safe and censure-free. It's then also your responsibility to ensure all PPE is properly maintained, repaired and replaced.   

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