Personal protective equipment refers to cautionary garments worn by workers to mitigate their exposure to serious workplace injuries and illnesses and help ensure construction site safety. Such injuries and illnesses can result from contact with chemical, electrical, mechanical, physical or other workplace hazards. Personal protective equipment (PPE) may include items such as gloves, safety glasses, safety shoes, earplugs or muffs, masks, hard hats, respirators, coveralls, vests and full body suits.
All PPE should be designed and constructed for safety. The equipment should be maintained by being properly stored and cleaned thoroughly. It should always fit well and be comfortable for workers to wear as to encourage use. If it doesn't fit properly, it could expose the wearer to dangers and may also pose unique hazards such as getting parts of the clothing stuck in mechanical equipment or distracting a worker when they should be focusing on their job and environment.
When engineering, work practices and administrative controls cannot provide adequate protection, employers are required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to provide PPE to their workers and ensure it is used properly. They must also teach each employee who needs to to use the equipment the following:
- When it is necessary
- What kind is necessary
- How to properly put it on, adjust, wear and take it off
- The limitations of the equipment
- Proper care, maintenance, useful life and disposal of the equipment
The PPE training program should also be monitored to ensure its ongoing effectiveness.
The OSHA compliance standard
According to the agency, PPE "…shall be provided, used and maintained in a sanitary and reliable condition wherever it is necessary by reason of hazards of processes or environment, chemical hazards, radiological hazards or mechanical irritants encountered in a manner capable of causing injury or impairment in the function of any part of the body through absorption, inhalation or physical contact."
If you need help implementing a safety management system, contact Safety Advantage, LLC today.