Disregarding heath, safety guidelines can be costly

Disregarding heath, safety guidelines can be costly

Failure to adhere to best practice in health and safety is potentially very expensive, says Stephen Burrows. “We have recently seen lawsuits of close to R100-million lodged on behalf of workers who were not properly protected from the hazards inherent in their workplace.” Burrows adds that work stoppages and labour disputes arising from safety issues resulted in not only hugely inflated production costs but also fatalities because of accidents that should never have happened.

One of the major factors contributing to the increased risk of avoidable accidents, he notes, is is the lowering of standards in the PPE industry. The scramble for cheap products that barely meet minimum standards while not offering any safety benefits has effectively turned the industry into a regressive market, where less consideration is given to value, quality, reliability and the lifetime safety of PPE, he adds.

One of the major factors contributing to the increased risk of avoidable accidents, he notes, is is the lowering of standards in the PPE industry. The scramble for cheap products that barely meet minimum standards while not offering any safety benefits has effectively turned the industry into a regressive market, where less consideration is given to value, quality, reliability and the lifetime safety of PPE. “Any procurement manager will strenuously bemoan the steady rise in prices in nearly all categories of products and components, particularly where quality is an imperative, but the prices of many PPE products have declined sharply as low-end products begin to proliferate and saturate the market,” he says. Further, the disposable nature of PPE products erroneously strengthens the argument for not buying high-performance products, while the actual cost of using cheaper products is not always considered in the decision to buy such products, he explains. “The true cost of inferior products is not immediately evident or easily measureable upfront and it is only when accidents regularly result in avoidable injuries that questions are asked and consequences [noted],” he cites.

He points out that high-performance products deliver consistent and predictable performance, with the products retaining their efficacy and integrity throughout their lifetime. “Premium-quality products invariably last considerably longer than cheaper products and high-performance products offer greater protection from those unseen risks, such as the permeation of harmful and often carcinogenic chemicals,” Burrows says. He notes that manufacturers of high-performance PPE invest considerably in research and development and constantly pursue innovation. Burrows says that, to be effective and meet acceptable standards of safety, the PPE industry needs to refocus on its primary responsibility of keeping workers safe, adding that clients should no longer be misled into believing that low-end products offer the same value as premium PPE. “Manufacturers should continue to advance technology to provide PPE that is innovative and cost effective.”

 

Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor
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