PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)
Personal protective equipment, commonly referred to as “PPE”, is clothing or equipment worn by workers to reduce exposure to a variety of hazards. When engineering, work practice and administrative controls are not feasible or do not provide sufficient protection, employers must provide PPE to their employees and ensure its use.
The occupational health and safety regulations state that where personal protective equipment has to be worn, it is the employers’ responsibility to ensure that the PPE can adequately control the hazard that employees are exposed to.
Who pays for PPE?
By law, it is the employer’s responsibility to provide their employees with suitable protective equipment and clothing at free of cost. Prior to purchasing PPE, safe work methods and procedures and available risk assessments and exposure assessments should be conducted and reviewed to determine the most appropriate PPE for purchase.
Steps involved in selection of PPE
Once the need for PPE has been established, the PPE has to be correctly selected and used. The selection of proper type of PPE is determine by the following criteria:
- the degree of protection required, and
- the appropriateness of the equipment to the situation (including the practicality of the equipment being used and kept in good repair).
Types of PPE
The type of PPE the employees require are dependent on the type of hazard. Following are different types of PPE:
- Respiratory protection – disposable, airline cartridges, half face or full-face
- Hearing Protection – Ear muffs or ear plugs
- Eye protection – goggles, visors or shields
- Skin protection – hats, sunburn cream, long sleeved clothes
- Head protection – helmets, caps, hoods, hats
- Foot protection – safety shoes/boots
- Hand protection – gloves and barrier creams
- Body protection – conventional or disposable overalls, boiler suits, high visibility clothing, freezer jackets
Replacement, Maintenance and Storage
Without proper maintenance, the effectiveness of PPE cannot be assured. All PPE must be regularly inspected, kept clean, maintained and easily accessible and stored in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications. Where PPE is shared, such as visitor hard hats, laboratory coats etc., the relevant supervisor must ensure that the PPE is maintained in a clean and hygienic condition.
Information and Training
Employees should be provided with the instructions/training on how to use their PPE safely. Workers who are required to wear personal protective equipment must be trained on how to do the following:
- Use protective equipment properly,
- Know what kind of protective equipment is necessary,
- How to put on, adjust, wear, and take off personal protective equipment,
- Understand the limitations of personal protective equipment in protecting workers from hazards exposed to