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New campaign to give workers a voice when it comes to PPE

A new campaign, aimed at bringing workers to the forefront of the decision-making process when selecting personal protective equipment (PPE), has been launched by 3M. Alan McArthur, technical supervisor at the science-based technology company, explai

Deciding on the best PPE for a workforce is not an easy challenge, especially with so many different options available.
However, if the product is going to adequately protect employees it must be suited to the user, the task at hand and the environment in which it will be used.
While the level of protection is a top priority, comfort should also play a very important role in the selection process.
Workers who find their PPE comfortable are more likely to accept it, while those who don’t may be inclined to wear it incorrectly or remove it entirely - which reduces or eliminates the level of protection and puts them at risk.
But with comfort being so personal to the user, it is hard to know how to find the balance.
Consequently 3M has launched its Workers’ Choice campaign. 
As part of the campaign, the company hopes to emphasise the importance of involving workers in the PPE selection process and offers advice on how best to engage with them on the topic.
Interacting with the workforce about PPE will reinforce the importance of using the protection. As safety managers are taking the time to listen to their views, it will reassure them that their opinions matter, while also encouraging open discussions about workplace health and safety.
For already time-strapped safety managers, it may seem like another job added to the never-ending list. But by involving workers at the start of the selection process, time could be saved in the long run as there is likely to be fewer problems as the PPE is rolled out.
Here are a few top tips for involving workers effectively:
• Firstly, the type and level of protection required for the specific task should be identified. Once this has been confirmed, different types of available PPE can be looked at and it is at this point that a company should start thinking about involving its workforce.
• To find out if the protection is comfortable and suitable for the task, the best people to ask are those who will be using it. Focus groups and roundtable discussions are a great way to find out directly from the workers what does and does not work for them and narrow down some options for further investigation.
• With so much to choose from, it’s hard to imagine what will work best for the team just by looking at a catalogue. 3M offers extensive free product trials. This provides a great opportunity for staff members to try a solution and see if it works for them. Questionnaires are also available for employee feedback, which helps companies make a decision on the most suitable PPE for their team.

www.3M.co.uk/workerschoice