Walk into nearly any workplace in the United States and you are likely to see workers wearing some type of personal protective equipment, or PPE, as it is commonly called. How did these workers know which type of PPE they needed? Is it the correct PPE for their job role?
Selecting PPE is not always an easy process. Many factors must be considered before an employer can offer the right personal protective equipment to their employees. While we do not seek to identify all the elements involved in PPE selection, we will look at a few important ones.
First, the employer must conduct a complete hazard assessment of the job tasks that their employees will be performing. Selecting the proper PPE is nearly impossible to do if we first don’t understand what the hazards facing the employee are. This should be a team effort between the safety professional, workers, managers, and anyone who could be affected by the hazards in a workplace.
Once the hazards have been identified, the employer needs to match the PPE to those hazards. They must ensure the PPE can offer the appropriate level of protection. This may involve the worker wearing specific gloves to protect their hands, for instance. If it is a chemical hazard, the worker may need a chemical suit as well. The employer will work with PPE manufacturers and distributors to ensure that they are purchasing products that meet the proper requirements for the selected PPE. Factors such as permeation and degradations rates will be considered. Cut resistance levels will be reviewed when looking at gloves. The employer must consider all the hazards the employee faces when selecting PPE.
Yet another consideration concerning PPE is size. PPE that is too big or too small will put the employee at risk. Chemical suits that are too long can be a slip and trip hazard. Suits that are too small can be vulnerable to ripping and tearing, exposing the employee to dangerous chemical environments. The durability of the personal protective equipment is also important. The equipment must be able to endure the rigors of the employee’s job task.
Selecting the proper PPE should always involve the assistance of a professional. There are numerous problems that can arise if mistakes are made in the process. If we can’t eliminate the hazard, or control the hazard through engineering controls, we must then select the PPE our employees need.
A-C-T has industry-leading professionals that can assist your organization in the proper selection of PPE. We have an entire team of OSHA and MSHA authorized instructors ready to train at your site, or at our Bartow and Titusville locations. Call us today!