PPE Law: understand the penalties for those who do not comply

  • 11/01/2022
  • 11 分钟

Protection and care are words that must be part of every human activity! In daily offshore operations, they are key points. The protection of the entire working environment and prevention are thought out in depth and also in detail. This is where Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) comes in as fundamental elements for the health of workers in different sectors, but not as the only or first option. Let’s explain better!

What to observe before establishing the PPE, how to follow up and what are the penalties for those who do not comply? For a better understanding, we spoke with João David, corporate manager of Health, Environment, Safety and Sustainability at the Wilson Sons group and specialist Guilherme Silva, manager of QHSE Tugboats. Keep reading!

Before PPEs, it is necessary to think about protections as a whole

“Within the safety engineering order, it is the last option”, comments João David. He details, “the elimination of risk agents at source, the isolation of that source, or collective protection, are always better than individual protection, or in situations where there is no technological solution other than the PPE itself”.

Therefore, it is important to consider that PPE cannot be the first or only resource thought of for safety. Protection is a broad notion that should encompass the entire business.

However, PPEs are indeed very relevant and necessary in different moments of human activities, including offshore environments. And that’s why the EPI Law exists: a set of rules and recommendations that must be followed in companies to increase work safety.

The provisions of the law on the use of PPE

The application of PPE is part of the CLT (Consolidation of Labor Laws), amended by Federal Law No. 6,514/77. It requires the organization to purchase protective equipment, distribute it free of charge to employees at risk of accidents, and train in the proper use of PPE. It is also the employer’s duty to provide immediate repair and exchange in case of damage or loss, as well as periodic maintenance and sanitation.

The regulation of this text, in practice, is present in NR 6, a Government Regulatory Standard that deals exclusively with responsibilities, procedures and characteristics of the purchase and use of equipment of this type.

The importance of RNs

Regulatory Norms are a way for the government to present technical and practical parameters on how to conform the operation of a company to acceptable standards of safety, efficiency and control.

An example is in NR 6 itself. The document not only shows the responsibilities of each party in this routine of using PPE, but also defines in its annexes a comprehensive list of which of them are recommended for each type of function – according to the risks to which the worker is subject in that scenario.

In other words, although the focus is always on people’s integrity, the RNs also serve as a very useful guide for optimizing operational processes.

“These standards bring together a series of recommendations, aspects, guidelines and practices so that companies can manage their occupational risks and preventive measures in health and safety, in the execution and in the work environment”, explains Guilherme.

“The RNs aim to promote the implementation of programs, standards and compliance, generating positive impacts on the preservation of production capacity, avoiding losses and unwanted events and, consequently, contributing to greater efficiency in the processes”, he adds.

Penalties applied to those who do not comply with the PPE Law

Strictly following the Regulatory Standards is, above all, a matter of responsibility. It is to ensure the integrity of the people who make the organization exist and grow. But, beyond that, we need to talk about the implications for those who do not follow the PPE Law.

The biggest weight in this equation is for the business owners. If, in an inspection, failures in the company’s compliance are identified that generate non-compliances with the text of the law, the related activities may be banned until the situation is regularized. In case of serious non-compliance or recurrence of the same infractions, the company can also be fined.

However, when the irregularity happens even with all the necessary adequacy of the company, this responsibility can be individual. “In case the employee is not using the PPE provided, even though he is being trained and oriented, disciplinary measures must be applied, ranging from warning to dismissal for just cause”, Guilherme explains.

That’s why the job of implementing the law is not just the acquisition of PPE. It is necessary to create a work culture that makes the employees themselves understand the importance of this equipment for themselves and for the colleagues around them.

In addition to the question of administrative order, João David adds that “there is also the possibility of judicializing any loss and this can bring civil consequences of compensation”.

Experts agree that work in law enforcement is a dual responsibility: that of the company and the worker himself who must follow the company’s rules. It is not enough just to explain and offer the protective equipment, “it is necessary to have the diligence to enforce this rule”, comments João David.

It is necessary to prove that the rule was always followed. There need to be ways to ensure that what has been agreed is being carried out by all parties.

The use of PPE on offshore vessels

Every occupation that involves a danger to human integrity needs a rigorous management of risk factors and adequacy of equipment to mitigate this possibility of accidents.

In the case of operations that involve this issue more generally, the concern is even greater. This is exactly the case for offshore vessels. After all, the very nature of transport represents an accident risk, even if remote.

Think about possible scenarios for these vessels. In addition to very specific events, an accident can be aggravated by the lack of specialized care, as a ship may be hundreds of kilometers off the coast.

PPEs have a responsibility to prevent or minimize an injury, which counts for a lot in these conditions. It can represent the difference between having a minor accident and having the life of an employee taken.

The main PPE adopted on offshore support vessels

Many of the PPEs used on ships are similar to those used in industry. Meanwhile, a few others are specific to offshore situations. See which ones are most common:

  • life jacket, in case of an incident with people going overboard;
  • safety helmet with jugular to protect the head from possible impacts;
  • noise muffler (or ear protector), which protects the eardrums from long-term exposure to very loud noises from machinery and equipment;
  • safety goggles to protect the eyes;
  • safety boots for firmness and protection on various types of flooring.

In addition to these, there are also Personal Protective Equipment that are very specific for functions that may or may not be performed inside the vessel. Some of them are facial protection for cutting and welding services, seat belts for working at heights and gloves for handling sharp or aggressive objects to the skin.

The future of PPE still has a lot of evolution, like the wearables themselves, which can indicate when an employee enters a restricted area, or has cardiac alterations, for example.

Success in work safety comes from a combination of knowledge of the PPE Law with a plan that raises the risk factors and equipment capable of neutralizing them.

As Guilherme concludes: “it is a legal obligation, but, in addition, that employees are aware and develop the culture that the use of the equipment is there for their own protection, preserving their health and safety”.

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