Vic Devine

.... Your Health and Safety Guru

A Lesson Learned - Cheap Safety Equipment is a False Economy

When I was a junior, I used to dread going to health and safety meetings. I often wished I could take a pillow, but as this was not considered acceptable, had to opt for loading up on coffee. More often than not, all I had to do is to keep quiet and take notes. It's not as if I was being allowed to participate in the decision making, although, of course, I should have been. They generally wanted to decide on the current risk management procedures, get all attendees to rubber stamp the process, and then simply notify everyone lower down the chain as a 'fait accompli'.

Risk management is not really supposed to be like that. Figuring out risks involves getting opinions from everybody. Prior to laying out plans, it is usually wise to try to ask employees as to what they think are the risks in their workplace. People who are working with specific site instruments will have noticed things which require discussion. Those higher up the chain will most certainly not have observed all these issues, but if, (or more likely, when) a problem develops, they will be left holding the baby just the same.

Often those in the workplace will come up with specific suggestions that could end up saving the company thousands. One example I came across recently involved a company where two valuable employees had recently been disabled due to foot injuries - they weren't wearing safety boots, how could this be?

As you are probably aware, safety boots are a requirement for any laborers who are subject to hazardous working conditions such as construction sites and industrial areas. Although essential, they have developed a status of being clumsy and heavy and because of this most people don't really like wearing them. However, the protection they offer from impacts and falling debris is crucial, it doesn't take much weight falling on a foot to turn a competent and productive employee into a permanently disabled ex-employee, as my clients discovered to their cost.

The problem in this case was pretty much as described above, the workers had not been wearing their safety boots as they found them uncomfortable and unwieldy. This was due to the employer only allowing them to choose from a budget range of safety footwear in the belief that this would save money. If I may drop a link for sutiable safety boots, The Boot Seller, offer a good selection of quality branded safety footwear at very reasonable prices.

The lesson they learned is that it is well worth giving your employees the right to purchase boots from reputable brands - they will look better and be more comfortable -and this will increase the chances of people wearing them all the time.