Risk cannot always be eliminated in the workplace, so if the worst does happen, having the right safety equipment will help protect your workers and yourself when WorkSafe comes knocking
Safety at work is everyone’s business and should include a safety equipment list. This list does not need to be complicated, and can be as simple as listing personal protective equipment (PPE) inventory or as complex as providing full workshop safety equipment list. The purpose of such a list is to ensure that workplaces are not only as safe as possible for workers, but to also comply with health and safety legislation.
What Should Be In Your Safety Equipment List?
In an industrial setting, and where any type of machinery is being operated, it’s crucial to ensure the well-being of workers through effective workplace safety systems, protocols, and risk management. And with workplace injuries costing $62 billion annually in the U.S. alone, the last line of defense to minimize the risk of an on-the-job injury is personal protective equipment. Examples include:
- Safety shoes—These are shoes that are reinforced with steel around the toes and are worn to protect feet from objects that are dropped, heavy machinery falling, lacerations, and even burns.
- Safety helmets—Any blow to the head, regardless of how light, can be lethal or result in a brain injury. A safety helmet is padded and incorporates shock absorbers to cushion blows that could be harmful to the brain.
- Safety glasses—Glasses often perform double duty when they are worn: protecting eyes from flash burns when workers use soldering or welding equipment, and to stop foreign bodies from entering the eyes when operating machinery like lathes.
- Safety gloves—Gloves are crucial for preventing injuries to hands by way of cuts when workers are using equipment that has sharp edges, or hot liquids could splash and cause burns. Safety gloves must be fit for purpose.
- Hearing protection—Damage to hearing occurs when exposure to noise levels above 85 decibels is prolonged, so recommendations are to keep noise levels below this benchmark. If this isn’t possible, adding hearing protection to your industrial safety equipment list is strongly recommended.
Even a high visibility vest, or clothing with reflective tape, is part of the personal protective equipment list and uses a practical approach to protect wearers in situations where they need to be visible (ex. road crews or working at night).
Constructing a Safety Culture
While the above safety equipment can be found in most industrial settings, a safety equipment list in construction adds additional items necessary to keep workers safe, particularly when they are working with heavy machinery or at great heights. Examples of safety supplies specifically for construction workers include:
- Fire blankets—On construction sites, fires are possible if electrical equipment is used, or if wiring or cables are damaged. Having access to a fire blanket will starve a fire of oxygen when it is covered, extinguishing it.
- Machinery, tools, or vehicles with safety features—Equipment should have safety features that are tested before use because malfunctions can occur. Clean safety glass. Make sure horns are the correct volume. Check that seat belts adjust correctly and the notification light (if applicable) turns on when they’re supposed to be in use. Bright headlights and brake lights should turn on sufficiently, as well as alarms. These are all safety features that should not be overlooked.
- Barricades and signs—Proper signage keeps construction workers safe by alerting drivers that they are traveling through a construction zone, and need to be cautious and lower their speed.
- Bridge access tools—Employees who work at heights are at major risk of falling if correct equipment isn’t used and/or checked every time before use. Injuries or deaths happen when the incorrect or makeshift equipment is used to reach inaccessible areas of a bridge. Bridge access tools ensure workers can reach certain areas of bridges safely.
- Ladders and scaffolds—Faulty ladders and scaffolds are a common cause of workplace accidents and injuries, and must be inspected prior to use. Workers should check this equipment for broken rungs and rails, grease and dirt, and instability. It might seem obvious, but metal ladders must not be used near any electrical work area.
Safety in the workplace is the responsibility of both the employer and employee, and short-cutting the maintenance can have dire consequences such as injuries, lost lives, and fines for non-compliance with legislation.