Friday, January 17, 2014

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)


Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) lies at the bottom of the Hierarchy of Controls.  It belongs there because of the low level of protection it provides against the largest hazards (such as gloves protecting from a press brake crush) and because it is 100% dependent on the operators using it and their policies being enforced.  That does not mean that PPE should not be a part of your safeguarding plan.  A good safeguarding plan should have many levels of control.  Your risk assessment is the first tool you will use to help with the selection of PPE.  Here are some of the main forms of PPE and some information about them. 


Eyewear: Most companies have policies in place for eye protection, but not all specify the type.  As a first question, do you allow regular prescription glasses as a substitute?  An employee’s regular glasses will not offer the same protection as safety rated eyewear.  Do you require side protection for the eye?  Hazards can easily enter the eye from the side not protected.  Maybe even look to see if complete face protection is needed with a shield.  Also, how resistant to shatter are the safety glasses you have selected?

safety glasses


Safety Footwear: When hazards are near the ground or dropped it’s the safety footwear that protect the worker.  Looking at the hazards you are trying to protect the worker from can help select the type of footwear required.  Safety footwear is certified by CSA and are marked to indicate the level of protection.  Ask yourself questions like am I protecting from a crush or impact?  What would be the force of impact that an operator needs protection from?  Does the footwear need to protect against puncture or electrical current?  Do only the foot and toes need to be protected, or the whole ankle?

safety boots


Gloves:  Gloves is an area where it is really important to understand what hazard you are trying to protect against.  There is a large variety of gloves out there and it’s important to know which types protect against what hazards.  Also fit is important.  Loose fitting gloves can protect the workers hands but might create another hazard by being easy to get caught on something.  Are the gloves protecting against cuts?  Are they protecting against chemical exposure? Also, remember that in some situations gloves can cause more serious hazards and shouldn’t be worn at all (such as while operating a drill press).

cut resistant gloves


Ear Protection:  The important part of ear protection is determining what the current noise level is in your facility and ensuring you choose the appropriate category.  Also, be aware that some forms of ear protection may require fit testing.  Operators must be comfortable with the fit to properly use it.


ear protection


This is not a complete list of all PPE, there are many other types designed to protect again specific hazards.  Important to all forms of PPE is its certification.  Many groups certify PPE, and it’s important to know which ones have certified what you are using.  Certification by CSA is always a good determining factor.  Also fit is really important as PPE must be comfortable and fit correctly on an operator.  Once your PPE plan has been developed, ensure that policies are updated and all training material and safe work procedures list the correct PPE for the job.

Posted by Kristin Petaski at 5:25 PM 0 Comments
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