By Fulwiler, Richard D.
Occupational Hazards , Vol. 66, No. 1
Remember those safety equipment vendors who call on you and distract you from really important work? You probably even refer to them as "peddlers." Well, some of these "peddlers" have the expertise and knowledge to become your partner in preventing injuries and illnesses, improving your health and safety program and even helping you build the business case for H&S. Here is some good news if you want a new partner.
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A few years ago the leadership of the safety equipment industry made two observations. The first was that in too many instances, safety equipment or personal protective equipment (PPE) was either improperly selected or improperly used. In fact, a Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) study found that improper selection or use of PPE occurs in over 50 percent of the applications. Second, health and safety professionals were getting more responsibility with less time to carry out those responsibilities. To test this, how many of you who stuck with this article up to now are expected to do more with less than, say, 5 years ago? One more question: how many of you would like to have a partner to share your load with and at no additional cost?
You don't need to look any further than your safety equipment vendor for your new partner, if he or she is a Qualified Safety Sales Professional (QSSP). No longer "peddlers," these sales people now have the expertise and knowledge to become your partners. They have completed a demanding course designed and run by the associations of safety equipment manufacturers, reps and distributors. The QSSP process is an intense one-week course focusing exclusively on the technical and regulatory aspects of industrial hygiene and safety that includes class work, hands-on practice and a rigorous exam. To obtain the QSSP designation, a safety sales person must have at least 2 years' experience in the business, attend the course and pass the exam.
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The QSSP program began in 1996. So far, there over 500 QSSPs located throughout the United States and Canada, not to mention a few in Latin America. The course is typically offered twice a year. Figure 1 is a typical class scenario.
So if you want a partner instead of a peddler to assist you in your ever-increasing work load, seek out a QSSP who will be better able to provide solutions. If PPE is in the equation, they can greatly reduce the probability of improper selection or use. But the training is not limited to PPE. The QSSP has a greater depth and breadth of knowledge and expertise in the entire health and safety injury/illness prevention cycle (See Figure 2.). This cycle starts with an initial assessment of what is needed to provide a healthy and safe workplace, then selection of the proper control modalities, next training and fitting if PPE is involved, then checking to be sure the equipment is being used properly and doing the job for which it is intended, then assuring appropriate maintenance is conducted and finally assessing the overall performance. As you can see from Figure 2, this is a continuous cycle and not a one-shot deal. There is a strong similarity to the Plan > Do > Check > Act > ... cycle (See Figure 3) so well known and applied as a total quality tool by enterprises that strive for excellence. When it comes to the health and well being of our work force, excellence is clearly what we all should be striving to achieve.
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How can a QSSP apply their increased knowledge and expertise to partner with you? Here are a few examples. …