Many workers wear respirators or breathing apparatus to protect their health in the workplace. These devices are collectively known as respiratory protective equipment (RPE). Respirators filter the air to remove harmful substances and breathing apparatus (BA) provides clean air for the worker to breathe.
Work activities may result in harmful substances contaminating the air in the form of dust, mist, vapour, gas or fume. Workers may also need to work in areas where oxygen levels are or may become low, for example:
- confined spaces, such as a trench, silo or tanks
RPE is personal protective equipment (PPE) designed to protect the wearer from breathing in harmful substances or from oxygen-deficient atmospheres when other controls are either not possible or insufficient on their own.
There are many different RPE types designed to:
- protect the wearer from a variety of hazards;
- suit a variety of work situations; and
- match the specific requirements of the wearer
GHS Health and Safety consultants can help your business explain RPE, what legislation says about RPE, selecting RPE that is adequate and suitable for the task, using RPE and maintaining RPE.
Health surveillance allows for early identification of ill health and helps identify any corrective action needed. Health surveillance may be required by law if your employees are exposed to noise or vibration, solvents, fumes, dusts, biological agents and other substances hazardous to health, or work in compressed air
Health surveillance is a system of ongoing health checks. These health checks may be required by law for employees who are exposed to noise or vibration, ionising radiation, solvents, fumes, dusts, biological agents and other substances hazardous to health, or work in compressed air.
Health surveillance is important for:
- detecting ill-health effects at an early stage, so employers can introduce better controls to prevent them getting worse,
- providing data to help employers evaluate health risks,
- enabling employees to raise concerns about how work affects their health,
- highlighting lapses in workplace control measures, therefore providing invaluable feedback to the risk assessment, and
- providing an opportunity to reinforce training and education of employees (eg on the impact of health effects and the use of protective equipment).
GHS Health and Safety consultants can help your business conduct risk assessment to identify if you need to implement health surveillance, what sort of health surveillance do you need, set-up and design health surveillance according to your needs, identify who will conduct the health surveillance, assist in the implementation of health surveillance for those that need it and manage performance interpret the results and act on the results.