PPE and Health Monitoring - Hasmate
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PPE and Health Monitoring

PPE and Health Monitoring

Chemical and airborne contaminants

In between gasping for breath and cupping his face mask for oxygen, an older friend of mine said, with tears in his eyes, “Gordon, I can’t even walk to the letter box. I’m now stuck here waiting to die with this bloody oxygen bottle for company.”

Two months later, I helped to carry his coffin to the awaiting hearse.

The reason for Bill’s years of poor health and final demise was in many ways due to his casual attitude for not wearing the right equipment when spraying his small orchard and his habit of smoking.

Emphysema is a cruel and debilitating killer, and to see Bill like he was before he died is a memory I will never forget.

This may be a morbid way to start this article, but it’s happening every day in the New Zealand workplace and can happen to any one of us. You don’t even know it’s happening – and when you do, it can be too late.

My message is – don’t take risks – use the PPE that has been supplied to you.

When the New Zealand Health and Safety legislation was first introduced in 1993, there was an emphasis on accidents and the physical injuries of New Zealand workers. It took a few years for OSH (as it was known then) to realize that there was one other factor in the health and safety equation, and that was employees’ health. This article is to focus on this, but more importantly the use of PPE, to help mitigate the exposure to health related hazards and risks.

If you are an employer, or now the PCBU, you have the responsibility to,

  1. To undertake hazard and risk level assessments of all the work activities in your business, and to document them as a hazard register with the most practicable controls;
  2. Identify what PPE is required for your workplace (if the hazards can’t be eliminated or controlled by being substituted or administrated);
  3. To supply the most appropriate to your employees;
  4. To make sure they know how to use, store, and maintain it;
  5. To ensure they wear it, and if if they don’t, to be consistent in the management of this safety practice;
  6. To make sure that any form of actual or potential source of airborne contaminants are eliminated or adequately controlled; and
  7. To monitor the effectiveness of these controls on a scheduled basis.

Mental Harm and Wellbeing

An added word of warning for those of you in high demanding occupations, management positions, or professions that place you under pressure or overload. Physical and mental stress is also recognised as a risk to health, that can potentially affect your breathing and lung function if it is allowed to continue and not recognised. This can lead to what I have come to know as occupational asthma. Why do I know this? I’m also a victim of this health issue, having been placed under undue work pressure when working in a corporate environment, with the result that since leaving that work environment, I have had to use a preventative inhaler every morning to manage my occupational asthma.

Take care out there, take time to smell the roses.

If you have any questions about this article, please contact Hasmate to discuss further.