Cost and availability of equipment a factor in safety on the job

Raelene Bruney says it's important to inform employees as to why it is important to use PPE’s at all times.
Raelene Bruney says it’s important to inform employees as to why it is important to use PPE’s at all times.

Safety Officer at ACE Engineering Ltd, Raelene Bruney, is of the opinion that one of the deterrents that Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) faces, is the high cost of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

“I believe that a strategy should not be built without reference to the need for enhanced PPE use and accessibility to Personal Protective Equipment,” Bruney said at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Builders and Contractors Association of Dominica (BCAD) recently.

“I do most of the purchasing for ACE when it comes to PPE and I can tell you that if you find equipment that you want, you lucky at a high price, if you find it at a low price, you are even luckier and also if you choose to order it on your own, the duties that are charged to that is very discouraging.”

According to the Safety Officer, the cost and availability of PPE is important.

“You have to go to six different stores to find out if they have, let’s say, respirators and respirators that are not even certified. That is one hindrance I find,” Bruney pointed out.

Another significant area, she noted, was the need to inform employees as to why it is important to use PPE’s at all times.

safety equipment for workers“Tell him why he needs to wear his glasses, tell him why he needs to wear his ear plugs, show him why, show him videos of accidents. That way he will think for himself and know that he needs to protect himself. So by empowering the employee it will also help to improve the safety culture of the company.”

Meanwhile District Environmental Health Officer, Isabella Charles-John, noted that a health and safety culture starts from the top.

“Because employees have to see that management is committed to their health and safety, (first), leadership from management and then employees will follow.”

She said the provision of resources and training of employees is an area of responsibility for management, she advised.

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  1. The Facts
    January 2, 2015

    It is always the responsibility of the employer to adequately train their staff about health and safety issues and to purchase safety paraphernalia for those who need them. Failure to do so, if an accident occur, the employer will be held responsible at a cost of some millions of dollars. The government usually charges the employer for negligence and the victim’s family will sue. In Canada especially this will amount to an exorbitant amount.
    Strange, as I read the article, this brings to my mind being told of an employee who died from inhaling a liquid cleaning fluid. As we were leaving the Church one Saturday morning after attending a function, some people who were all dressed in mourning attire entered. We spoke to a few who told us about it, and that the funeral will soon be taking place. The victim was a young married woman who had small children. It was sad to hear.
    Therefore ACE do not skimp with costs of protective equipment and educate your staff accordingly.

    • winston warrington
      January 3, 2015

      How does one inhale a liquid? you probably meant “ingest” which would infer that an act of negligence was committed by the employee for which the employer might not be culpable. One inhales gases or vapor which might be caused by contributory negligence of the employer; but in discussing safety issues in construction and dangerous occupations, the worker must be alert and have the assurance of an authority to represent his welfare and safety.
      This is a government responsibility. The employer is concerned with profits while the worker might be too needy or timid to risk protesting work conditions. In Dominica, not only are safeguards not established for workers, the public at large is threatened by the casual approach to establishing danger zones on construction projects. An act of legislation is needed that adequately addresses issues of safety from a universal perspective.

      • The Facts
        January 4, 2015

        Warrington, I could not elaborate due to DNO’s characters inhibition. The lady was a cleaner at a hospital/nursing home. She did not ingest it. She inhaled it; you know smelled it to ensure that it was cleaning fluid. It was a grave error on her part which could have been attributed to ignorance and lack of proper training. It was a potent cleaning fluid. The fume entered her nostrils and to her lungs. She was hospitalized but nothing could be done to heal her. Sadly, she died.
        Hospitals and nursing homes just as some hotels employ some people who are of a different nationality. They are not educated, in that they cannot speak English properly nor read it.
        People make mistakes. Have you ever smelled something out of a bottle to ensure it is what you think it is?
        Many accidents occur and what I term as strange ones which kill workers, sometimes even though they may have received proper training and followed proper procedure. We never know when they will occur.

    • Read and understand
      January 3, 2015

      Hello! no one said ACE was skimping on supplying ppe. Read and understand that the cost and availability os a DETERRENT to most employers and employees in using ppe.

  2. Lapo L'ai
    January 2, 2015

    She said,” The provision of resources and training of employees is an area of responsibility for management”. Well let me put it this way. Training on the proper use, and storage of all Personal Protective, equipment is the RESPONSIBILITY of the employer/ management. PPE may be costly but would you prefer your company to be ordered by a judge to pay a family hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation because of your company’s negligence? Wouldn’t be sensible on the part of your company to factor the cost of PPE into the cost of the project? Does your company purchase PPE that is not certified to be issued to your employees? As a safety officer I hope and pray that you do not allow that to happen. We need Occupational Health and Safety laws that makes it mandatory for all employers to provide the necessary training on the use, storage and disposal of all PPE issued to them. Employees themselves must be held responsible for the safety and security of their PPE.

    • Lapo L'ai
      January 2, 2015

      All employers should be obligated by law to inform their employees of the dangers that exist on the job ,and what step(s) they need to take to protect themselves. They must also be told about any chemicals that can be found on the job, what personal protective equipment they need to handle, store and if necessary dispose of the chemical properly. This is called the right to know. Yes all employees have the right to know of all the dangers that affect them on the job wherever they work. That also includes all exits and fire escapes as well as training to handle fire extinguishers.

  3. Brian
    January 2, 2015

    Very insightful.
    Kudos to the very beautiful Health and Safety Officer.

  4. Protection One Inc.
    January 2, 2015

    Thanks to ACE for enlightening and bringing this to the table at such an opportune moment. Safety on the job as been always a critical issue from time immemorial. That aspect of our culture has been left to be desired and as such the employment unit and other unions including the minister of national security needs to take a stand now. Of course, and i concur that cost and availability of these essential accouterments do put a damn on the disbursement to employees so much for that injuries continue to be prevalent in the work place. As an assistant steward on the MV Cunard Countess in the 90’s i learned of the importance of safety equipment and i realized also that in the US and Europe you would be physically take off the job if you are no wearing or refuse to wear the equipment. On my return to the Dominica i made several attempts to have this matter addressed but struct a brick wall every time. The problem at hand where availability is not an issue, cost is the bastard.

  5. Shaka zulu
    January 2, 2015

    We have two choices. Spend money on safety equipment or risk our lives everyday. Pick one.

    • Ba Yo Bwa
      January 2, 2015

      That’s what I am thinking.

      In my experience, we tend to take our chances, erring on the side of wrecklessness as opposed to caution. And then the worse happens. Caution and protection of life and limps are just not considerations in everyday Dominican life.

      Interesting it is that the lady references the importance of using video clips to teach how accidents may be averted in the said trade. That point of education raised for me the idea that accidents in the trades is a rare occasion (important as it is to protect against it) compared to the frequent vehicular accidents occurring on our roads daily.

      The use of video clips depicting the cause of deaths or injuries due to the refusal to wear seat belts when driving or as passenger is just as (or even more) critical. But there is no outcry for the use of and enforcement of a requirement for seat belt for drivers of motor vehicles (and passengers), which should be important for issuance of a drivers’ license.

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