Cutting PPE use through process design
New way of thinking about design addresses the work itself
Here's a fresh way of thinking about worker safety protections: Rather than outfit workers with bulky and unpopular protective gear, see if you can enclose the work process and eliminate the hazard instead. The strategy of re-engineering work processes to cut down on PPE use has been tested successfully in the pharmaceutical industry, where new kinds of high-potency drugs have also created major worker exposure problems. When one pharma company added up all the costs of providing workers with PPE, the firm realized it was more effective to rework the process.
PPE costs included:
• $172,800 per year for PPE (with the cost of fit-testing workers of all shapes and sizes rising)
• $78,000 in extra labor costs for PPE donning and doffing time (45 minutes per employee for putting it on and taking it off after every bathroom trip, lunch hour and other break), and
• $30,000 in outsourced industrial hygiene sampling costs.
The perks of enclosing the process:
• less medical monitoring required
• reduced training costs, and
• a 40% reduction in disposal costs and less water usage for worker showers.
Solution: 'Glove bags'
With all those direct and indirect costs, the company found it cheaper to design a "glove bag" to enclose the most critical part of the process, the final pill mixing. To prevent skin absorption, ingestion or inhalation, the glove bag allows workers to put their hands inside gloves and interact with the products that way. It's not PPE -it stays with the product and doesn't need to be tailored to employees. The final result? A 6% return on investment (ROI).
Reprinted with permission from:
Safety Compliance Alert
Mon, February 27, 2012
by Kim Bowman