Personal protective equipment (PPE) and other types of protective gear should always be used when appropriate in the workplace. The type of PPE and amount necessary will depend on the type of work taking place in the workplace. For example, the protective equipment required in a meat processing plant is much different from the gear needed in an office environment or on a construction site.
Although some employers may not feel it is necessary to provide PPE or other safety gear to their employees or they do not want to spend the money on the equipment, the truth is that this equipment is important both for the employees and the company itself. Employers may, in fact, be required by law to provide this equipment. Employers should check out the national laws as well as the laws in their specific state to determine if PPE is required and, if so, which types are required for their specific industry. Once this information has been determined, the employer can then begin shopping for the proper PPE and other necessary safety equipment.
Why Provide Employees with Protective Gear
Any business owner, regardless of how many employees he or she has, should take the time to determine any job-related risks that could lead to an employee’s injury, illness, or fatality. After making the necessary evaluation, employers should then research which types of safety equipment and other PPE are most suitable for their industry. Employers should work the cost of PPE and other safety gear into their annual budget, especially when hiring new employees, so that the cost is anticipated and planned for.
1. Protective Gear Is Required by Law
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is dedicated to protecting employers and employees in the workplace. Though some states have chosen to adopt their own set of safety standards and laws, many states rely on OSHA to provide guidance as to which types of PPE and safety equipment are required. Even the states that have created their own laws follow this organization’s recommendations, though they may add additional requirements in certain industries.
Employers and employees may be subjected to fines if this organization determines that they are not providing or wearing the correct types of PPE for their specific industry, so it is important for employers to not only determine which types of safety equipment are required and provide them to their employees, but to require their employees to actually wear or use the equipment at the appropriate times during the workday.
2. Protective Gear Protects Employees
Employees are at their most efficient when they are healthy and happy, so it is in an employer’s best interest to provide a workplace that fosters productive, happy, and healthy employees. If an employee gets sick or injured on the job, he or she may be required to miss work to seek medical care. Serious injuries may also prevent the employee from returning to work in a timely manner or may reduce his or her productivity while the injury heals or the illness resolves.
Though there is no way to prevent an employee from suffering from any illness or injury during the course of employment, employers can greatly reduce the number of missed work days and the decreased productivity caused by injury and illness by providing the proper safety equipment and requiring that it be worn whenever needed.
3. Protective Gear Protects Employers
Just like an individual who suffers a fall due to a spill at the grocery store, employees can sue their employers if they feel they are being asked to work in an unsafe work environment. Although it will be left up to a judge and possibly a jury to determine whether the workplace was, indeed, unsafe, lawsuits can cost employers valuable time and money resolving these matters in a court of law. They may accrue thousands of dollars in legal fees, if not more, and they may be fined or even forced to shut their business down while they acquire the necessary safety equipment for their employees. This could result in a loss of productivity and reduce company morale.
Employers could also be hit with heavy fines by their state or OSHA if they are inspected and have not provided the proper safety equipment and PPE to their employees. At this point, the employers will have to purchase the required protective gear as well as pay the associated fines, which means the employer will spend more money than if it had originally provided the required PPE to its employers in the first place.
4. Protective Gear Protects the Final Product or Service
When lack of proper PPE and other safety equipment result in on-the-job injuries, illnesses, or fatalities, production lines or services offered by the business may be halted until the situation can be dealt with and a substitute for the employee obtained. While it may be callous to look at PPE and safety equipment in these terms, all businesses are concerned with the bottom line as well as overall productivity. While it is true that any injury or illness affects a company’s productivity, an individual taking a sick day because he or she has the flu is much less disruptive to the company’s overall productivity than an employee who was injured on the job, as this situation requires more of the employer’s attention during business hours.
5. Providing Protective Gear Is Ethical
In addition to being required by state and national law, providing PPE and other safety gear to employees is ethically the right thing to do. Knowingly endangering anyone is wrong, and business owners should always strive to be ethical in all their business practices.