Understanding ppe equipment and their role in the oil and gas industry

Safety in the workplace is important not only for the individual worker, but also for the entire businesses. Any loss caused by injury or any other harm to a worker leads to a slowdown in production that can translate to monetary losses. Eventually, if this continues for long then the company in question will have to close down for being unable to operate profitably and that will be a loss for the entire community. When it comes to individual safety in industrial zones, the personal protective equipment is often touted as the solution. Recommending ppe equipment for safety reasons
is now standard practice, and these now form a large chunk of regular company purchases in the oil and gas industry as well as chemical and mine industries. Here are facts that management needs to know about ppe equipment before purchase and during maintenance to increase the benefits accrued to the company and its workers.

Not all ppe equipment are for personal safety in their natural use. Some protective gears also protect the machinery or gadgets operated by the worker who puts on the ppe. For example, in static sensitive places, a bare human touch can cause problems and therefore gloves must be used. In other cases, objects are very slippery and cannot be handled without gloves to help enhance the operator’s grip. In such cases, as illustrated in these examples, the ppe also serves as an aid to the work done. 

The location of the ppe equipment is critical to their effectiveness. When purchasing the ppe equipment, it is important to look at their recommended storage options. The design and materials used for the equipment affect its usefulness. For example, if the material used is not fire-proof then the equipment will not be helpful when there is a fire hazard. Sometimes the equipment will work well for certain situations but fail terribly when the environment changes and so workers will need to access alternatives. When buying the necessary ones, it is wise to look at all possible scenarios and then look at their probability of occurrence.

Putting a helmet or glove far away from the place it is often used is a recipe for disaster. Most workers prefer to work without obstacles, and will see the distance between them and the equipment as an obstacle. For example where there is too much smoke that hampers visibility, the worker will rely on prior knowledge of the area and his or her touch senses to reach the safety equipment. If the distance is quite large, then the equipment will not serve the intended purpose of protecting the worker from injury.

If possible, the worker clothes should come with various options for holding the ppe equipment when in use and when not in use. A glove compartment, a goggles holder, and a tool holding belt are just examples of additions that can go to an ordinary overall to make it more functional and to reduce the distance between the worker and the equipment. This way, the worker only needs to reach out and put on the desired equipment and remove it when he or she is done with the usage.

Nearness of the equipment to the worker works well to increase the frequency of usage and eventually reduce damage. Most workers get into negligence-caused problems because they see the equipment as a nuisance to their work flow. If goggles are too dark to see around and are only useful for welding, then the worker will likely just use them for that purpose, but if he or she forgets them at a different location, then the urge to get them before doing the work might not be there. This would be one of the many cases where injury happens because for some reason the equipment becomes more of a bother than a benefit.

Taking care of worker inconveniences arising because of ppe distance is good for compliance, and also reduces the overall risks of the workplace. In addition, the ppe should be very comfortable to use otherwise it will still be inconvenient. Wearing gloves for example is a daily requirement for most workers in various plants and this can be a major source of heat on their body thus making their hands sweaty and itchy. Good gloves in this case should be porous enough to allow breathing and cooling and be chemical proof to keep oil spills and other dangers away. The same goes for facemasks and other protective equipment.

The last factor to consider is the purpose of the ppe. Many companies make the mistake of going for the standard ppe equipments because they are required by law. They do not consider the fact that the ppe should serve a particular role in the safety of workers. It pays to consider getting ppe equipments for risks that are most obvious in the industry, but it is also good to consider risks that are unique to the plant’s environment. 

Knowing the various categories of ppe is important and should be precondition before selecting relevant equipment for workers. A skin ppe serves to protect the skin against chemicals, physical agents and biological agents that might be visible or invisible. An eye ppe is for shielding the eyes against harmful elements as well as protecting them from physical injuries. The ppe in this category can duplicate the skin ppe, but that is not a reason to substitute one for the other. A personal escape mask would be a combination of different categories of ppe equipment.

Other useful categories to know include heating ppe to prevent damage to ears, respiratory ppe to help to protect users against breathing-related problems. Lastly, head and general protective ppe equipments enhance worker visibility, and protect them while working.

After going through all the factors affecting the effectiveness of the ppe equipment, the next step would be to find the one that is appropriate for a particular worker, both in the short-term and in the long-term. Remember getting the right equipment and placing it appropriately near the worker is as critical as having the ppe in the first place. A reputable manufacturer and supplier of the equipment needed is always the best company to contact for all ppe needs.

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