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May 13, 2024

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Skills shortages, sustainability and women’s PPE cited by HS professionals as key areas of focus, report finds

A new report has highlighted skills shortages, sustainability and a lack of women’s PPE as key areas to focus on in the UK health and safety sector.

The 2024 Environment, Health and Safety industry report called Striving for Excellence revealed 82% of respondents agreed, or strongly agreed, with the statement that more needs to be done to ensure PPE is suitable for women in terms of better fit, sizes and suitability – but only 1% cited it as an important buying factor.

The report has been released by RS, a global services and solutions provider, and Director Ryan Plummer said more needs to be done to meet the need.

He said: “It seems there’s still a way to go on achieving awareness of the importance of PPE developed specifically for women.

“After the success of last year’s survey and resulting report, we wanted to follow up to see how things may have changed.

“It was interesting to see that sustainability is growing in importance, with more buyers prepared to pay a premium for sustainable products, even in the face of challenging times.
“This highlights more than ever the need for suppliers and solutions providers to really step up collaborative working with customers, to support them in making the right product choices in accordance with their business objectives, whether they be budget, environmental or staff-centred requirements.”

The report is based on findings from a survey of 891 respondents working in health and safety (H&S) roles in the UK and Ireland across the manufacturing, energy and utilities, public services, logistics and retail sectors – and others.

PPE procurement 

Credit: Alamy Stock

The top three challenges for buyers of PPE were finding suppliers who have the right stock, sourcing quality and trustworthy parts and keeping up to date with new products and technology.

Only 41% of businesses managed PPE recycling in-house – and 30% said their organisation would like suppliers to provide this service.

Skills shortages in H&S are seen as the biggest risk to an organisation, cited by 47% of respondents in comparison to 41% for budget cuts.

Issues mentioned included team erosion due to budget constraints and being a ‘one man band’ department.

In addition, 37% of respondents cite counterfeit or substandard PPE as a real issue in the industry.

“Failing to do so puts workers lives at risk”

Dr Karen McDonnell, Occupational Health and Safety Policy Adviser at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), said: “The British Safety Industry Federation is very clear on standards for personal protective equipment.
“Getting PPE procurement right first time is fundamentally important, and businesses should take advantage of the available support and guidance from recognised suppliers.
“They must ensure that the PPE they are issuing has been correctly tested and certified to the appropriate standard. Failing to do so puts workers lives at risk.”

The survey showed organisations’ confidence in their ability to protect both employees and end users is high, with 88 and 89% respectively ranking their abilities high or extremely high

However, the wide-ranging report revealed mental health continues to be an area of concern, as only 55% of respondents said they were confident in their company’s capabilities in this area.

In addition, 86% said accident prevention was the highest priority area of compliance and area with the need for a business strategy.

The survey respondents were predominantly men in management and advisory roles – with just over half working at large businesses, 29% at medium-sized organisations and 18% worked at small businesses with 49 or fewer staff.

You can read the full report here.

Protection for Everyone - SHP's Inclusive PPE Campaign

SHP is running a campaign to bring awareness around the issues of ill-fitting PPE and lobby Government to bring about change.

We'll work alongside a range of stakeholders including suppliers and distributors, industry bodies, and, importantly, those who have experienced ill-fitting PPE.

Please contact us ([email protected]) to get involved, share your stories and support a campaign that affects everyone!

Click here to find out more!

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