Everything you need to about Personal Protective Equipment
What if your workplace was more dangerous than you ever realized?
If you don’t have the right Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), you may be putting your health at risk. But if you arm yourself with the right knowledge, you can make your workplace safer than ever.
Interested in learning more about PPE? Keep reading to discover our guide to personal protection and protective equipment!
What Is Personal Protective Equipment?
We’ve put together a guide to help you understand everything you need to know about Personal Protective Equipment. Before we go any further, though, it’s important to define what PPE is.
PPE doesn’t refer to any single type of equipment. Instead, it refers to any equipment or gear that someone can wear to protect themselves from specific hazards.
Chances are that you have already worked with very basic forms of PPE on different job sites, including things like gloves and earmuffs. But depending on the hazards presented by the workplace, you may need more comprehensive types of PPE.
Types of PPE
As we noted before, there are many different types of PPE to help protect against many different potential hazards. Below is a thorough list of PPE that you or your employees might use.
For employees who wear glasses or contact lenses, face shields and other forms of eye protection can keep them safe in the workplace. Those who work in construction or similar hazardous areas may need hardhats to protect their heads.
Gloves are a common type of PPE, and different materials (ranging from rubber and plastic to leather and metal mesh) can provide different kinds of protection. And if an employee is concerned about their legs or feet, they may benefit from safety shoes, toe guards, shin guards, and even heat-resistant leggings.
Earplugs or earmuffs are usually sufficient to protect someone’s hearing. Finally, body protection is available via things like lab coats, aprons, gowns, overalls, vests, and more. As with gloves, these different body coverings may be made of different materials.
Common Workplace Hazards
Different workplaces may come with different challenges and hazards. However, OSHA recommends conducting a risk assessment to help determine if your workplace has any of the following common hazards.
Chemicals may present a serious risk to workers, as can working with extreme temperatures. Dust may threaten workers’ eyes, as can very bright lights.
Other risks include working with radioactive or dangerous biological materials. Finally, dangerous workplaces may include risks of impact, penetration, or compression.
Ultimately, employers must provide the right PPE to help protect their employees against the specific risks within the workplace.
An Employee’s Right to Personal Protection
One of the most important things you should know about PPE is that you are required to provide it. OSHA specifies that employees who work in hazardous areas must have both the equipment and the training required to ensure their safety.
Moreover, employees can file a complaint with OSHA if they feel that their employer has not complied with OSHA rules regarding hazardous equipment and PPE. This places a lot of pressure on your workplace to properly assess risks, provide PPE, train employees, and maintain equipment.
Buying PPE For the Workplace
It can be difficult to find and purchase the right PPE for workers. However, there are a few best practices you can follow to make the process easier.
After conducting a thorough risk assessment, you must determine the types of PPE that your employees need. Afterward, you must determine how much equipment you need to provide protection for your employees.
At this point, it’s wise to purchase more PPE than you need. This is because you will eventually have to dispose of equipment over time and you must make sure there are no gaps in hazard protection for employees.
Needless to say, you shouldn’t buy PPE from the first vendor that you find. Instead, take the time to explore various warranty and extended service offers to help you get the most value out of all of the PPE you buy.
Implementing PPE Procedures
It’s one thing to buy the gear and another for employees to properly use it. This is why any good PPE implementation process begins with extensive training.
Your training should instruct employees on how to wear and use the equipment, including when to put it on and how to take it off. This may sound basic, but if employees skip an important step, their health and safety may be seriously compromised.
It is equally important to instruct employees that the use of PPE is mandatory, and failure to wear their equipment may lead to serious disciplinary action. Never forget that an employee who ignores safety regulations may be putting their entire team (and maybe even the entire company) at risk.
Regular PPE Maintenance
Even the best PPE will not last forever. But you can help you gear last that much longer by conducting proper maintenance.
Ideally, employees should inspect PPE before and after they use it. They must report damage or defects right away. You can encourage this by developing an easy and intuitive reporting system for employees to use.
Work with your local vendors to maintain and service your equipment as needed. And when the time comes, you must safely dispose of PPE right away. By keeping bad gear onsite, you run the risk of an employee wearing that gear and hurting themselves.
The Role of Employers and Employees
At the end of the day, workplace safety is the joint responsibility of both employers and employees. And it is vital that each group understands their different roles and responsibilities.
Employers must provide the right PPE and training to their employees and do their best to maintain, service, and eventually dispose of PPE. And employees must wear PPE as instructed, follow all safety protocols, and report damaged or defective equipment immediately.
By following these steps, every workplace can meet OSHA compliance standards and ensure the safety of everyone involved.
Workplace Safety: Your Next Step
Now you know all about PPE and employee personal protection. But do you know who can help you better protect your entire workplace?
To see what we can do for your workplace, contact us today!