Rescue boats launch delayed due to malfunctioning PPE
Five out of the 23 Coast Guard stations that protect Irish waters were banned from launching rescue boats last month because of their PPE (personal protection equipment) lifejackets were found to not function correctly.
This has resulted in a total of 23 inflatable boats used for sea rescues unable to launch. The RNLI has provided cover for incidents normally served by the coast guard boats.
The Irish Coast Guard is issuing new lifejackets, which will be available as soon as they have been compatibility tested. The crew of the boats will also need training with the new style of lifejackets.
Fortunately, no lives were put at risk because of contingency plans for the RNLI to take over rescue services.
This issue highlights the need for PPE to be exactly suitable for hazardous tasks. Any equipment designed to protect the safety of workers needs to be regularly checked to assess whether it is functioning correctly.
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), there are around 9,000 accidents each year involving PPE. The most common PPE errors reported by HSE inspectors are PPE not been worn and PPE failures. Some injuries are the result of workers not using PPE correctly.
The most common injuries are to the hands and feet, which should be protected by gloves and boots. The cost of PPE-related accidents is estimated to be around a quarter of a million pounds a year, hence the HSE’s efforts to raise awareness about the correct use of workwear.