The Occupational Safety & Health Administration will tell you, before handing PPE to your employees make sure you have a strong PPE Program in place. This puts everyone on the same page when it comes to safety.
Keep in mind…
More important than PPE is eliminating the hazard, finding a substitution (if necessary) for the item(s) removed, isolating people from the hazard through engineering controls, and changing the way people work through administrative controls.
Basic elements of a PPE program include:
- Performing a “hazard assessment” of the workplace to identify and control physical and health hazards.
- Identifying and providing appropriate PPE for employees.
- Training employees in the use and care of the PPE.
- Maintaining PPE, which includes replacing worn and/or damaged PPE.
- Periodically reviewing, updating, and evaluating the effectiveness of the PPE program.
Workplace hazard protections to consider:
- Eye & Face Protection– PPE shouldn’t restrict vision or movement and should be durable and easy to clean/disinfect. It should not interfere with the function of other required PPE and must meet OSHA requirements.
- Head Protection– PPE must resist penetrating objects, absorb the shock of a blow, be water resistant and slow burning. The PPE should also come with instructions on proper adjustment and replacement of suspension and headband, and should meet OSHA requirements.
- Foot & Leg Protection– Protective footwear must comply with several requirements (i.e. ANSI Z41-1991 OR 1999, ASTM F-2412-2005, ASTM F-2413-2005.)
- Hand Protection– This PPE includes metal mesh, leather and canvas varieties, fabric and coated fabric, chemical and liquid-resistant, and insulating protections.
- Body Protection– PPE should protect against intense heat, splashes of hot metals & other liquids, impacts from tools, machinery and materials, cuts, hazardous chemicals, contact with potentially infectious materials and radiation.
- Hearing Protection– PPE should be appropriate for the level of sound and duration of exposure. NIOSH has a free app to help measure sound levels. OSHA requires hearing protection after engineering and administrative controls have been executed and the employee’s exposure exceeds an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) sound level of 90 dBA (dose of 100 percent) or when the employee’s exposed to an 8-hour TWA of 85 dBA and who have measured hearing loss.
- Respiratory Protection- PPE fall into three classes (i.e. air purifying, atmosphere or air supplying, or a combination of air purifying and air supplying.) These PPE should come with worksite-specific procedures. A true respirator face mask has an N95 designation.
While condensed and simplified, this is a lot of information to take in.
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