Money For Lunch – The Importance of Proper Fit In Safety Gear

The Importance of Proper Fit In Safety Gear

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There are very few jobs today that don’t require any safety gear. Whether it’s a physician’s nitrile exam gloves or the posture braces supporting the backs of contractors, millions of us utilize special equipment to keep us safe on the job.

Because ergonomic injuries and biohazards have drastically increased the number of people who wear safety equipment at work, the emphasis has sometimes been to ensure simply the use of the equipment more than the proper use of the equipment. In these cases, fit has been one of the areas that has fallen by the wayside.

But the fact is that safety equipment that doesn’t fit correctly can be as bad or even worse than no safety equipment at all. When we have no safety equipment, we are more cautious and we avoid certain actions or techniques for our work. But when we do have the appropriate gear, we may have a false sense of security that lets us fall into a trap of overconfidence that can lead to an injury or illness.

Ill-fitting safety gear causes several types of problems, and the costs of these make it well worth the money to make sure that workers have safety equipment that fits correctly.

Readjustment Issues

When something doesn’t fit us properly, we are constantly tugging and adjusting to try to keep it in place. We’ve all experienced that with a shirt that’s a little too short or socks that can’t quite get above our heel. It’s an annoyance with regular clothing, but it’s a hazard with safety gear.

Prescription glasses are a good example. Companies should work to find prescription safety glasses that will fit correctly on workers. Fitting properly is even more essential for safety glasses than for regular glasses because workers are typically more physically active than people wearing regular prescription glasses. Workers need to be able to see and protect their eyes properly without constantly taking their hands of dangerous work to reposition glasses.

Complication Issues

Sometimes safety gear that doesn’t fit correctly can be worse than no safety gear at all. Apart from the overconfidence we already discussed, a poor fit can cause workers to move incorrectly, leading to various movement injuries.

Shoes are a great example. Many occupations require steel-toed boots. These shoes are essential for safety around various hazards, but because they are so rigid, they are unforgiving when they don’t fit correctly. A few hours in ill-fitting steel-toed boots can cause blisters, and a longer span of time can aggravate joints from the heel all the way to the hips and back.

Acute Injury Issues

Finally, some protection problems pose an obvious risk for a sudden serious injury. These include things like seat belt failures that injure workers in the exact circumstances that they are designed for. The falls, impacts, slips, and other workplace injuries that we are trying to avoid end up injuring us because our gear doesn’t fit correctly.

Some occupations have very obvious injury risks. Firefighters must have properly-fitting gear to protect them from the incredible heat that they face inside a burning building. Any gaps or openings in their gear can easily allow burns to happen. In another public safety example, police officers should be in bulletproof vests that fit correctly so that an assailant’s bullet can’t find an area around the neck or armpit to strike the officer’s body.

We all have certain hazards on the job, and many of us have such serious ones that protective equipment is in order. For those of us who are in a role where we choose or maintain protective equipment, it’s essential to pay as much attention to fit and training as it is for quality and cost.

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