By Chris Robinson, CMIR
As investment recovery professionals, we are continually in contact with our customers, frequently on-site reviewing material and equipment while formulating disposition plans in physical conditions that require personal protection equipment, or PPE. IR professionals literally wear many hats. We must be able to move in and out of a variety of environments, including office, highway, and vehicle traffic areas and job sites. Because of this, IR professionals have to maintain a unique awareness of their environment(s). Being prepared is key to the success of our work, and nowhere is this more evident than in the area of safety.
While I could never cover every possible scenario, below are a few items that have been essential tools in my “IR Safety Toolbox.”
  1. Hard Hat and Safety Glasses – In most industrial environments, these are two must-have items. Typically hard hats are required when overhead, falling, or flying hazards exist or when the danger of electrical shock is present. Eye protection is designed for particular types of hazards, so be sure to select the specific type to match the hazard. 
  2. Foot Protection – Slip and puncture-resistant soles and in some environments, safety-toed shoes are a must. Invest in good footwear; it will pay off in both comfort and safety.
  3. Hearing Protection – High-noise industrial environments are the norm for IR professionals. Keep several sets of earplugs or over muffs available at all times.
  4. First Aid Kit – Most sites will have first aid kits on site, however, many sites may be decommissioned and not have up-to-date first aid available. In addition, having a first aid kit in your car while traveling can potentially be the difference in someone’s life. 
  5. Hand Protection – Leather work gloves should be an essential part of your Personal Protective Equipment list. Many environments have hidden hazards for your hands. When working around chemical products, the additional protection of rubber safety gloves is wisdom.
  6. Get Familiarized – Perhaps the greatest danger to an IR practitioner is the lack of day-to-day involvement at a site. This reduced awareness of potential danger areas creates a greater risk for everyone. So most importantly, ASK QUESTIONS! When you understand the area and the requirements, you will be able to plan accordingly.
While the list above is by no means all-encompassing, it should provide a baseline for Personal Protective Equipment for the IR professional. By combining PPE with an awareness of the environment you will be working in, you put yourself in a much better position to leave the job site the way you arrived.
If you don’t already have a complete set of PPE designed for the situations you are potentially going to encounter during the course of your on-site visits, make that the very next addition to the trunk of your vehicle. (Plus, keeping a hard hat, safety glasses, work boots, and gloves visible in your office kind of looks cool…and helps people realize that IR professionals have a serious responsibility beyond the office.)