Avoid a R25 000 DoL penalty! Take these two steps before you give your employees PPE

Ashley Churchyard, Fsp Business, 21 Jan. 2015

Tags: ppe, personal protective equipment, safety gear, protective equipment, what to do before choosing ppe, choosing employees’ ppe

Last year we told you story about a manufacturer who paid a R25 000 DoL fine because he didn’t give his employees the right personal protective equipment (PPE). He gave them PPE, but it didn’t protect them from the risks involved in their work. When the DoL inspector came to visit he saw this and told him to give his employees the right PPE. When he didn’t, the DoL gave him the fine.

This could happen to you if you’re not careful. Why? Because you can’t just give your employees general PPE like hard hats and boots and call it a day!

You have to make sure the PPE you give your employees actually fits the risks they face.

The good news is, you can do this simply by taking two very important steps before you hand out PPE to your employees.

Read on to find out what they are…


Before you give your employees PPE, take these two steps

Step 1: Do a risk assessment
A risk assessment is a vital part of making sure your employees’ PPE is risk-specific. According to Markosafe.co.za, you need to identify: 
1. Which employees face risks and what those risks are?  
2. How long they face these risks each day? 
3. What risk level does their work expose them to?
This way, when you choose and buy your employees’ safety gear, you’ll know which risks it must protect them from. 
Don’t know how to do a risk assessment? The Risk Assessment Toolkit will show you how. 
This is a legal requirement. Without this step, you could face that R25 000 because your protective equipment won’t be risk-specific. 
But that’s not all you have to do. 
You have to take one more step before you hand out your employees’ protective equipment.
*********** Hot off the press  ************
Do you want to be fined, jailed or have a criminal record for life?
If an accident occurs in your workplace, and the person dies, you could be charged with culpable homicide, charged penalties of R100 000 or 2 years in jail! The CEO or Owner of a company is personally accountable for health and safety at work. 

Take this second step to make sure your employee’s PPE is effective

Step 2: Put other safety measures in place first
The problem with PPE is it only protects the person wearing it. It also only protects certain parts of your employees. For example, safety goggles protect their eyes, but won’t help them if something hits them in the face.
That’s why you must first put fixed safety measures in place that actually reduce the risk your employees face. Then choose protective equipment that works with the existing safety measures. 
Your PPE must support the measures you put in place instead of making them harder to work with. For example, if you put machine guards up around equipment, don’t choose big bulky safety gloves that catch on the guarding all the time. 
If you don’t take this step, the equipment you give your employees could cause more accidents than it prevents. 
Once you take these two steps it’s time to choose the equipment you need to give your employees. 
Use these guidelines to get it right.

Follow these three guidelines when you choose PPE 

1. Make sure your safety gear complies with Personal Protective Equipment Regulations. You can find out more about these regulations in the OHS Act.

2. Choose equipment that suits your employees. Consider the size, fit and weight of the PPE to make sure your employees can work safely when they wear it.

3. If your employees must wear more than one item of PPE at the same time, make sure they can do so safely. For example, they need to be able to wear a hard hat without it affecting their safety goggles.
Follow this simple process and you’ll be able to avoid a R25 000 fine from the DoL because your employees’ PPE will always be effective. 
PS: Do you have more than 20 employees?
Don’t ignore this health and safety obligation or else!
The DoL will slap you with a R50 000 fine or 1 year in jail if you don’t have a health and safety representative. 

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