Personal protective equipment (PPE) vending machines can help large worksites save time and money, reduce waste, and improve OHS compliance and site safety.
Demand for vend-ready products which can be stocked in the machines is increasing, according to ProChoice Safety Gear’s research and development manager, Brad Rodgers, leading the company to release their own vend-ready range.
“There are lots of benefits to vending, with the big one being the time and money savings,” he said.
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“The machines improve stock control and the sites that use them significantly reduce their PPE wastage, while also being able to dispense PPE 24 hours a day without the need to have someone in the storeroom all the time.”
“They also create better accountability as the machines can track PPE use more closely than a traditional storeroom scenario.”
The vending machines typically use smartcard technology, with each employee issued a unique card that enables in-depth usage reporting for management and the manufacturers.
“Each product dispensed is marked against a person’s name so records show who is using the PPE and how much of it,” explained Rodgers.
“So if someone is getting a new pair of safety glasses every day, that might raise a red flag. Alternatively, if they’re not using enough PPE then they may not be adequately protected.”
Other safety improvements can be found in ensuring PPE compliance and appropriate levels of protection.
“The company can choose which products to stock in the machines so they can have absolute confidence that the workers are using approved PPE,” said Rodgers.
“You can also lock people out of certain products, so workers in high risk areas can be limited to only selecting PPE that will provide adequate protection.”
The significant benefits and increasing use of vending machines is what motivated ProChoice Safety Gear to start supplying their own range of vend-ready PPE, according to Rodgers.
“More and more sites are embracing vending and we want to ensure we supply products that fit those machines,” he said.
“We’ve released a new range of five gloves in vend-ready packs. They’re rolled and shrink-wrapped to fit into the coils nice and neatly.”
“We also have a range of ear plugs, safety glasses and disposable respirators that typically fit vending machines,” he said, adding that the products need to be compact so they won’t catch on the coils when dispensed.
Regarding the size of the items, he noted that while knowing the type of PPE vending machines was important, there was often a lot of room for customisation.
“Generally speaking, most machines will allow the coils to be moved closer together or further apart to match the product,” he explained.
“There are also vending lockers for large or high-value products, like a grinder or jackhammer. A user can swipe their card, use the tool and then put it back in the locker, which works on a weight basis.”
While Rodgers said that he didn’t see the lockers often as the coil machines are lower cost, he believed that their usage would continue to increase.
Regardless, he added that the coil PPE vending machines cover most of the essentials, including hand, eye, respiratory and hearing protection.
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