Preventing a Safety Dilemma
By: Mike Gillette
A guiding concept for the hierarchy of controls, elimination of hazards is always the most effective way to protect employees. The same goes for life—if you’re worried about a skydiving accident and you don’t go skydiving, guess what, there’s no hazard.
Is There a Different Way to Approach the Following Dilemma?
So, what’s the best way to avoid the following “safety dilemma” posted in EC&M?
You work for an electrical services firm that has expanded from a local presence to one that serves clients within a 500-mile radius.
You get called to a manufacturing plant about four hours from your home office, and the work includes racking out some breakers, and also using a portable power analyzer on live equipment.
After getting to the location, you find out during the analysis that you need 40 CAL PPE. Unfortunately, the helper packed a 20 CAL kit.
Being four hours away from the home office, you can’t just run back to and pick it up, having a runner bring out the correct PPE will still take at least four hours, and you’re left with a couple options, according to the article:
- Purchase the correct PPE from an electrical distributor near the plant.
- Downside: extra cost. But maybe you need that PPE anyhow, and helper sent 20 cal because that’s all you had; the office staff could verify.
- Upside: quick solution, get on with the job.
- Ask the customer if you can borrow, rent, or purchase the correct PPE from them.
- Downside: You’re letting the customer know you made a mistake.
- Upside: You’re letting the customer know you caught a mistake and you want to resolve it quickly.
- Inform the client of the problem, and ask for their help.
- Downside: You’re asking for a favor.
- Upside: You’re asking for a favor, a proven way to help build a relationship; people like to help other people.
Looking at each of these options, you’ll notice that each one presents downside. Knowing this, there are ways to avoid the situation as well. While one of the most apparent takeaways is “take this as a reminder to double check your bag before heading to a client four hours away,” it isn’t the only option.
There is a way to avoid running into this problem altogether. Adopting a “all in one-suit” approach.
How an “All in One-Suit” Approach Helps Avoid This
Sounds insane, right? Donning a 40 CAL suit for every situation, even if it only calls for a 12 CAL suit? It’s not as crazy as it sounds any more, and more companies are embracing it—with good reason.
No Downtime Waiting for the Right Suit
First, the one-suit approach helps avoid this dilemma. You’ll never need to worry about your helper packing the wrong suit because you always have one that covers all 4 PPE categories. If you’re looking to enter new territories, especially ones where it would take four hours for someone to reach your jobsite, the decision to remove the CAT 2 suit from your inventory and replace it with a CAT 4 suit will prevent this from becoming an issue.
How Much Would That Excursion Cost?
Second, it’s more affordable. How much will it cost to tell someone to stop what they are doing, drive four hours to the site and four hours back to deliver the suit? Someone just lost a full day of work and wasted two or three tanks of gas while you had to twiddle your thumbs.
Add to this the fact that you’re delaying four hours of work before you have to put four more hours of work in once the proper PPE is delivered.
Say you start a day at 7. You reach the site by 11. You complete planning and other pre-work analysis by 1. You then realize you have the wrong suit (which won’t get there until at least 5). At best, you could complete the work by 9, but would likely end up waiting until the next day, so you get a hotel.
The alternatives aren’t much better. Rent a suit? Buy the right one? Money out the door. Or worse, do the task in a suit that is not going to provide the proper level of protection.
The all in one-suit approach addresses the issue. Better yet? You’ve eliminated the CAT 2 suit entirely, which saves money.
Is Saves Your Reputation
When you enter a new location, you’re not well-known, so referrals are your best bet. What client is going to refer someone who shows up looking that disorganized? Worse, if it’s a need-it-right away kind of maintenance, you might lose the customer entirely. By avoiding the situation altogether with a one-suit approach, you can get in, get the job done, and get out—letting your work stand for itself.
Yes, It Is Possible, No, It’s Not as Challenging as It Seems
Understandably, you might be a bit skeptical. We can hear the retort already. “This sounds incredibly uncomfortable, none of our workers want to wear a 40 Cal CAT 4 suit when they need to wear one, why would you expect them to when it’s not needed?”
We understand. Most of the traditional arc flash PPE on the market today is uncomfortable, bulky, and hard to wear. We don’t recommend you wear them either.
But… that’s where we come in. At Enespro PPE, we entered the market understanding the concerns that workers have about arc flash PPE comfort. Our goal was to shatter the status quo in electrical PPE so we designed our products to provide comfort, mobility and better visibility without compromising safety. In fact, we developed AirLite 40 which is a CAT 4 suit that is as light as many CAT 2 suits, and we hear it’s so comfortable, that many of our customers use it for all 4 categories and complaints from workers about wearing PPE have gone away.
Don’t believe us? You don’t need to. Take it from one of our many highly satisfied clients.
The All in One-Suit Approach in Action: LidCo Electrical Contractors
LidCo Electrical Contractors, a safety-conscious organization with over 35 years serving commercial and industrial customers in Central Massachusetts recently opted to replace their PPE with Enespro’s 40 CAL AirLite™ kits in each service van.
The results were astounding. Not only did it increase use among workers, employees found the suit so lightweight, breathable, and comfortable that the company was able to move to a one suit approach. Ready to learn more? Read the entire case study below.
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