Employers are mandated to give their employees Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and provide the necessary training on its use. Workers need PPE when administrative, engineering and work practice controls are unfeasible and there is little security and safety on hand. PPE is equipment worn to reduce contact to a variety of hazards. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) aims for workers to stay safe from workplace hazards.
In order for PPE’s to be successful, employers and employees must work together to attain a safe and healthful work site. OSHA mentions the following responsibilities:
- To recognize and control physical and health hazards employers need to perform a “hazard assessment” of the workplace.
- Identify and provide appropriate PPE for employees.
- Be able to train employees in the use and care of the PPE.
- Employers must maintain PPE, including replacement.
- Occasionally review, revise and evaluate the effectiveness of the PPE program.
- Properly wear PPE.
- Attend training sessions on PPE.
- To be able to maintain PPE assigned to them.
- Inform a supervisor of the need to repair or replace PPE.
Types of PPE
When adequate ventilation is not available, respirators protect workers from inhaling hazardous contaminants in the air. Respirators can filter our chemicals, gases and airborne particles or provide clean air. Examples of respirators are gas masks and self-contained breathing apparatus. The National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL) provides types of respirators to use and recommendations for different industries.
Hand and Arm Protection
Hazards for hands and arms include harmful substances absorbed by the skin, chemical or thermal burns, electrical dangers, bruises, abrasions, cuts, punctures, fractures and amputations. To keep employees from these hazards, protective equipment may include gloves, finger guards and arm coverings or elbow-length gloves.
Laboratory coats, coveralls, vests, jackets, aprons, surgical gowns and full body suits can protect the body from unsafe conditions. If workers will be exposed to radiation, an extremely high temperature, and hot splashes from metals and liquids, impacts from tools and machinery and hazardous chemicals they need to wear protection for their body.
There are a number of factors to determine excessive noise. These include noise level in decibels, duration of exposure, and sources. Hearing protectors worn by employees must reduce an employee’s noise exposure to within the acceptable limits. Hearing protection includes single-use earplugs from waxed cotton, foam, silicone or fiberglass wool and molded earplugs. Earmuffs may also be used.
Eye and Face Protection
The eyes and face are one of the most vulnerable for exposure to hazards. Face hazards from flying particles, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids, chemical gases or vapors, potentially infected material and harmful light radiation are just some of the hazards that workers encounter.
In order to protect the eyes and face, the use of safety spectacles, goggles, welding shields, laser safety goggles and face shields are a must.
Head injuries can harm an employee for life and can also be fatal. One of the simplest ways to protect workers from such injuries is to let them wear a safety helmet or a hard hat. Construction workers, carpenters, electricians, linemen and plumbers are some of the workers who should wear head protection.
Take the necessary precautions to guarantee use of protective equipment on workers to safeguard them from work hazards. Learn more about PPE and its OSHA standard here.