Thought Leadership


Do you want your PPE from a vending machine?

September 26, 2012
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safety professionalA LinkedIn group discussion: How do you feel about the new trend of vending machines supplying PPE? I have reservations, it takes the “why they need a new PPE factor” out of the equation. Opinions appreciated. Thank you.

Irving Jacob• Vending machines are good for candies or soft drinks. Bu, not for important articles as these. We need the personal touch of the vendor explaining the properties of the PPE. Sure, an instruction sheet could accompany the product. But it's just not the same. Remember, we're dealing with important and (possibly) life saving stuff.

Gordy Koch• I like them because an employee can get replacement PPE at will, while the employer can track what is used, who is getting replacements, and only pays for the items used, while controlling theft. The employer still needs to provide all of the required training elements, including that employees understand and properly use their PPE.

James Venello• Sounds good but who pays for the PPE the employee or the employer?

Brian Vick• In addition to Gordy's statement, you may consult with the vendor that is supplying the PPE to the machine to make sure what they are stocking fits the criteria is association with the JHA's for the production floor. Given you can't stock it with PAPR's, full faced breathing apparatuses, etc. But gloves, glasses, buckleless belts, etc. would fit the necessities.

James  • Regulation states that the employer supplies the PPE, but if the employee is proven negligent with the care of the PPE, the employer can make the employee pay for their own. You are correct, though, the supervisors, managers, and EHS would need to track trends to see how long the PPE should last for each job.

William Lord• Adding to Gordy and Brian's comments, the machine is only for control. You still have to perform the necessary JHA & PPE assessments, and you have to select the proper PPE and provide training. What vending does for you is allow you to control what PPE is available to a particular employee and track what is vended. You will be able to set parameters. For example: you may think a person should only get one pair of gloves per week, and you will be able to see how many they get. If they're getting more you will see it on the report. You can restrict what they are allowed to get. If you have several types of gloves for different jobs, you can restrict what type a person can get, helping to ensure the right PPE is used. You can also restrict quantities issued over time (per day, per week, etc), but be careful with this. You don't want to create a situation where someone may be working without PPE.

It's a good thing, but it doesn't remove any responsibility for performing the required assessments and analysis.

Debra Morales• We would of course pay for the PPE and will track the supplies accordingly
and who and how many.

Edward Bahl• It's a Win Win--- talk to any medium-size company 100 - 300 employees who have them, then talk to the comptroller (about the savings), then talk also to the first line supervisor, and the employees --- finally the company restocking them.... There is a proper size range to the company that benefits... But you need to look at this from multiple perspectives and it's a Great Idea for most small to medium size companies.... As long as the machines are being serviced regularly.

It's a good thing in theory, but it doesn't remove any responsibility for performing the risk assessments and job hazard analysis for type of PPE needed and all subsequent training if required. My concern is an employee unknowingly purchasing a pair of safety glasses and then use them for welding. Might sound far fetched, but I've seen it happen.

Edward Bahl• Come on... These machines Do Not Replace - Nor were they ever intended to remove any responsibility or duty to perform risk assessments or PPE surveys or for a company to incorporate a best practice like JHAs.

That has never been the selling point or use or these. These are designed for point of use, and to facilitate a crib or storage locker, and they can track and facilitate reordering easier.

And if you have a welder that purchases a pair of regular safety glasses and uses them for as welding eye protection, then you have bigger problems... I would hate to check out the quality of the welding going on. Somewhere along the line people have to step up and wear their big boy pants.

Oh and the welding incident I mentioned, since I'm an on the floor type of guy, I caught him before he used them. This was early on in a job I had that had no safety person for over two years and the example was one of my first day findings as I walked the plant.

Suzanne F.• I’ve seen them at the safety show- it’s a great idea for inventory control, good visual reminder (“Oh yeah I need some gloves), ease of access for workers to products and better storage of items(clean protected itemized environment). As for training and follow ups etc - it doesn’t replace training, field audits or personal touch - but it does reduce the time wasted trying to find items and paper work, allows for quick data tracking of who and what items used (can't retrieve without ID codes for approved items). Vending machines could be used for respirators as well- once worker is fit tested and trained- they can replace cartridge as needed etc. Good for remote locations, mobile units with lack of central storage.

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