Here at Lone Worker Solutions, we utilise technologies which make it safer to work alone, remotely, or out-of-sight of colleagues. Our dedicated devices and apps offer a full range of lone worker protection through our Safe Hub system. This award-winning BS8484 2016 Gold Certified platform provides a package of emergency, reactive and proactive protection for lone workers. But what about other things which you can – and should – do to protect your employees, whether or not they’re lone workers?
One obvious area is providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). From clothing and footwear, to hand and above-the-neck protection, workwear plays a massive part in keeping workers safe. Unsurprisingly, this is an area which is subject to rules; the current EU-wide PPE Directive has been in place since the 1990s. These rules are about to change with the EU’s new PPE Regulation, which becomes applicable in April 2018. We decided we’d take a closer look at what changes the new regulations will bring about.
Understanding the PPE Regulation
The shift from a directive to a regulation enhances the requirements for manufacturers, importers and distributors of PPE. The aim is to increase the consistency and adequacy of product testing in some product areas. PPE suppliers must ensure that they properly test and certificate their products. They must ensure user instructions are in the correct language, and are easy to understand. And they must also confirm that transport and storage do not harm the PPE’s efficacy.
The Regulation maintains three different categories of PPE (Categories I, II and III). However, it defines these categories in escalating order of severity of risks involved, rather than type of protection. Certain types of risk have been re-classified as more severe, moving from Cat II in the old directive to Cat III in the regulation. These include products protecting against harmful noise (i.e. hearing protection), bullet wounds and knife stabs, risk of drowning (e.g. life jackets), biological risks, and cuts by hand-held chainsaws. All three categories of PPE now require a technical file, showing the product’s category, and confirming products have met testing certification requirements.
How purchasers of PPE should respond
Health and safety managers, and other people who are responsible for PPE procurement, need to be aware of these changes. It will be all the more important to check that the correct equipment is specified for each individual job role, and that all new purchased products hold the correct certifications. On existing equipment, managers should check whether safety certificates have an expiry date. For existing certificates with an expiry date, the certificate will remain valid until that date, even after April 2018. However, for existing certificates with no expiry date, the certificate will now expire in April 2025. And for new products, certificates are valid for no more than five years.
Ultimately, it’s best to purchase PPE from a trusted source – and the certification scheme should allow those procuring PPE to determine which those companies are. The British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF) has a registered safety supplier scheme for an added level of comfort. It’s also worth keeping up-to-date with sector guidance as to what might happen to safety regulations in the wake of Brexit. Ultimately, it’s likely that the EU’s PPE Regulation will form the basis of the future UK certification system for PPE.
Safe Hub can make lone worker safety devices compatible with PPE
In the UK, PPE must continue to be selected in line with the PPE at Work Regulations 1992, which cover the suitability, provision, maintenance, instruction and use of PPE. Thus it will remain vital for organisations to continue to perform operational risk audits for individual job functions. And risk managers need to ensure they take a holistic approach to health and safety in the workplace. This means that every aspect of protection offered to workers must reinforce each other, rather than create potential difficulties for an individual worker.
When designing a bespoke lone worker protection package for our clients, these are just the sorts of concerns we take into account. For instance, if your lone workers are wearing cut-resistant hand protection, they may not be able to use a mobile phone touchscreen to access emergency support. This is because such screens are ‘capacitive’, and require contact with something which holds an electric charge, such as human skin. Unless the fabric of the gloves contains conductive thread, it won’t transmit the electricity needed to operate the screen. Therefore, for such workers we’d recommend using a dedicated device which has a physical push button rather than a touchscreen, such as our SOS Fob or SPOT Gen3. In the event of an emergency, a lone worker could save valuable seconds by not having to remove their gloves. Providing that level of protection is the way to be the best employer that you can be.
If you’d like to take an integrated approach to lone worker safety, then contact one of our team today. Find out more about any of our products and services, and we can work with you to ensure our devices and your organisation’s PPE work hand-in-glove to protect your lone workers.
Call: +44-(0)161 885 2122
Post by George Stavrinidis.
George is CEO of Lone Worker Solutions (LWS), and believes passionately that everyone should be protected and supported at work. George supports LWS clients to make sure they enjoy the most effective relationship with the team and maximise the effectiveness of their investment.
About Safe Hub
Safe Hub is an award-winning BS8484 2016 Gold Certified package of emergency, proactive and reactive protection for lone workers. Safe Hub supports lone and remote workers on the widest possible array of devices including Android, Apple and Windows smartphones, BlackBerry, standard mobiles, PCs, intrinsically safe devices, specialist personal safety devices and satellite phones.
About Lone Worker Solutions
At Lone Worker Solutions, our business is about protecting employees, managers and shareholders from the risks associated with working alone. This includes the potential hazards faced by staff who work by themselves, remotely, or out-of-sight or earshot of colleagues. When it comes to safety we don't believe in a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, instead we tailor our solution to each organisation's exact needs.
This post has been updated to reflect recent changes and improvements to the naming of Lone Worker Solutions' platform and the safety features that it provides. Prior to 2018, Safe Hub was called LoneWorker Manager, Safe Check was called Heartbeat, and Group Alert was called Broadcast Messaging. These updates reflect advancements in the platform and help to improve end-user comprehension.