By putting a spin on this familiar safety term, EMCOR, a provider of mechanical and electrical construction, energy infrastructure and facilities services, is changing the way its employees work. The term PPE traditionally refers to the safety equipment workers wear to reduce the risk of on-the-job injuries. But because this equipment sometimes was uncomfortable, inconvenient or impractical, many workers did not use it, leading to injuries that negatively impact productivity, EMCOR said.
“If you remember what gloves or safety glasses were like 10-15 years ago, you can see how they might impede productivity. But that has all changed and now there are many different types and styles of gloves and protective eyewear for every task that not only prevent injury but increase productivity,” said Dave Copley, vice president of safety and quality management for EMCOR Construction and Facility Services. “As a result, an evolution in the application of PPE was a natural step, hence the development of personal productivity equipment.”
EMCOR embraced its new “personal productivity equipment” concept and introduced it to project management and field leaders to help company employees be more productive. Some of this equipment includes:
- LED task lighting in gloves and eyewear or hardhat-mounted headlamps to improve the ability of workers to see what they are doing in poorly lighted environments;
- Appropriate footwear or working surfaces to reduce fatigue; and
- Consistent use of gel knee pads to make working at floor level safer, less tiring and more productive.
The correct and consistent use of these and other pieces of equipment are an essential part of EMCOR’s process at every job site. This “PPE” is part of EMCOR’s overall corporate commitment to safety that also includes a risk reduction strategy that involves such aspects as engineering controls, hazard mitigation and improved planning.
“Thinking in these terms is a revolutionary step in improving safety and performance. The use of PPE is not only the safe and responsible thing to do, it’s one of the best ways to help improve productivity,” Copley said. “If we can reduce risk, fatigue, injury and downtime through the use of PPE, overall results will improve. It’s simply not acceptable for production losses to occur because PPE is not used.”