Getting the most out of your personal protective equipment (PPE), from comfort to performance, and more comes down to understanding what PPE solution will work best for your specific needs.
To help, many PPE manufacturers will offer a trial process to identify what protective solution(s) will best protect your team. When done correctly, benefits include:
- Improved safety program
- Reduced rate of injuries
- Increased awareness of safety issues among workers
- Higher rates of compliance with PPE requirements
- Reduced costs associated with insurance rates, medical needs, and workers’ compensation claims
Is a PPE trial right for you?
A trial may seem extensive, but it all starts with a simple conversation to make sure any selected safety solutions are the right option for you. From there, field-testing and assessment can identify specific pain points to help select the best PPE for the job.
It all comes down to these six steps:
- Assessing the hazards and work environment
- Considering the different types of protection per application
- Assessing the PPE that’s currently being used
- Selecting your trial crew
- Getting honest, thorough feedback about what worked or didn’t work during the trial
- Selecting and implementing the right PPE
So how does it all work? Let’s dive into the details.
1. Assess the hazards and work environment
When you begin a PPE trial, it’s important to consider as many application-specific issues as possible.
Answer these questions in detail:
What hazards are present?
Conduct a thorough assessment and note all existing and potential hazards, including those that may affect the hands, arms, eyes, head, ears, etc.
For example, hazards to the hands might include obvious sharps, metals, wires, blades, glass, etc.
Additional examples of hazards that may affect more than one part of the body are airborne particles, dropped materials, harmful sounds, rotating tools, moving belts, heavy machinery, and more.
Needing multiple PPE solutions to significantly reduce your risk of injury is very common.
Where is the job being performed?
It’s important to consider the environment(s) where workers are performing the majority of their work. Cold versus hot temperatures, both indoors and outdoors, can pose different complications for not only workers but their PPE as well.
For example, different types of safety eyewear should be assessed when working indoors versus outdoors due to elements like extreme and changing temperatures, UV light, glare, blue light exposure, and more. Additionally, some glove and helmet properties can be affected by extreme temperatures, hindering performance.
2. Consider the different types of protection per application
When managing a large team that carries out different tasks throughout the day, take note of those who need specific protection per application. Some workers may need just hearing protection while others may need safety eyewear and gloves – but even more so, each application may have very specific requirements per PPE category.
For example, a one-glove solution can almost never meet each application requirement, as it may provide too little protection – or too much – for the work they’re doing every day.
What level of protection is needed?
The required level of protection needed per PPE type will depend on the specific hazard and application. Think back to the very first question we asked: “What hazards are present?”
For example, you may need eye protection for airborne particles, but you may also need splash resistance. Generalized safety eyewear may work for the airborne particles, but for splash, you would need 360-degree fluid resistance that would be provided specifically by goggles. In some cases, you may need fog resistance and impact resistance with safety eyewear as well.
Our PPE options range in levels of protection and some are even equipped with technology to protect against very specific hazards.
3. Assess what protection you are already using
Audit your current PPE solution and supplies to help you understand what is working, what isn’t, and what can be changed or improved upon where appropriate.
Be sure to ask your team if anything is missing in their current PPE, such as performance, comfort, fit, or otherwise.
By collecting this information, you can work towards minimizing any potential trade-offs that the new PPE might offer, keep the same features that were favored, and alleviate most (if not all) pain points during the trial process.
4. Identify your trial crew
Having the right trial crew will not only help you find the right PPE, but it will also help you get buy-in from the rest of the employees once a PPE option has been chosen and the new program is rolled out.
Choose people on the crew that will provide honest and constructive feedback – a trial can’t fix anything that’s “just fine.” These dedicated crew members should have your team’s best interest in mind and be able to represent them on their behalf.
Encourage them to share personal preferences, experiences, and anything that may be helpful in the process of finding the right PPE. Be clear that this feedback will help determine the PPE that will offer the most benefits to the team. Their feedback will also be shared with the product manufacturer and could result in product improvements.
To make the best decision at the end of the trial, get a written agreement from the crew stating that they will provide honest feedback as well as the samples provided. Make this feedback session as easy as possible for your team.
5. See what worked and what didn’t
When your trial period has ended, collect the feedback forms and provided PPE, making sure to note the condition of the PPE by checking for any significant changes in the integrity of the equipment.
At this time, it’s helpful to invite the trial crew to share their comments or concerns verbally and record what was mentioned as well – even some of the smallest changes can make the biggest differences. Jot down stories of any ‘saves’ or ‘aha moments’ from accidents and other situations that occurred during the trial.
Once collected, include all relevant information in your report to share back with your manufacturer.
Remember, the first product(s) provided to you may not be the answer you’re looking for, but by continuously working with your manufacturer you’ll get closer to a solution together.
As you continue to try out different PPE options, revisit the specifics of various products per application. Take note to actively apply the comments and concerns to your decision-making process on which PPE you will try or purchase next.
6. Find your PPE
After these five steps, your PPE options should be narrowed down. However, knowing which PPE will work best for your team can still be difficult to do on your own.
Understanding specific PPE specifications per PPE category such as materials used, extra protective features, sizing, standards, and more can be a lot to uncover, which is why we recommend working with a PPE manufacturer to find the best possible solution(s).
Additionally, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) offers an extensive list of proper PPE outfitting, PPE standards, recommendations, and more. To read that blog, click here.
HexArmor ® can help
Our line of protective equipment is exhaustive to ensure that we can provide the perfect solutions for you. If we don’t have it, your team’s feedback may inspire us to create it.
There are several different types of PPE that we offer, ranging in different levels and types of protection:
We’ve spent almost two decades perfecting how we can help workers go home safe every day – and are confident that we can help you find the best PPE solution to fit your needs.
If you’re interested in an industrial trial program through HexArmor®, know that we’ll be there with you every step of the way.
Let us help you improve your safety. Contact us today at 1.877.MY.ARMOR or visit www.hexarmor.com.