SAFETY SOLUTIONS: Do Your Employees Really Know How to Use Personal Protective Equipment?
Workers have a right to a safe workplace. The law
requires employers to provide their employees
with safe and healthful workplaces (OSHA
1910.132). The OSHA law also prohibits employers from
retaliating against employees for exercising their rights
under the law (including the right to raise a health and
safety concern or report an injury).
Employers and employees alike, often fail to properly
assess a work environment for potential and evident hazards.
This can lead to incidents ranging from near misses
to death. With an appropriate personal protective equipment
program, that management and employees take
responsibility of, potential for injury on the job can be
Personal protective equipment, commonly referred to as
“PPE”, is equipment worn to minimize exposure to hazards
that cause serious workplace injuries and illnesses.
These injuries and illnesses may result from contact with
chemical, radiological, physical, electrical, mechanical, or
other workplace hazards. Personal protective equipment
may include items such as gloves, safety glasses and
shoes, earplugs or muffs, hard hats, respirators, or coveralls,
vests and full body suits.
Controlling a hazard at its source is the most effective
way to reduce and/or prevent injury. To achieve this
employers and employees should be able to:
- Understand the types of PPE.
- Know the basics of conducting a “hazard assessment” of
- Select appropriate PPE for a variety of circumstances.
- Understand what kind of training is needed in the proper
use and care of PPE.
Proper Use of Personal Protective Equipment
All personal protective equipment should be safely
designed and constructed, and should be maintained in
a clean and reliable fashion. It should fit comfortably,
encouraging worker use. If the personal protective
equipment does not fit properly, it can make the difference
between being safely covered or dangerously
exposed. When engineering, work practice, and administrative
controls are not feasible or do not provide sufficient
protection, employers must provide personal
protective equipment to their workers and ensure its
proper use. Employers are also required to train each
worker required to use personal protective equipment
- When it is necessary.
- What kind is necessary.
- How to properly put it on, adjust, wear and take it off.
- The limitations of the equipment.
- Proper care, maintenance, useful life, and disposal of
If PPE is to be used, a PPE program should be implemented.
This program should address the hazards present;
the selection, maintenance, and use of PPE; the training
of employees; and monitoring of the program to
ensure its ongoing effectiveness.
When we visit our client’s places of employment and we ask
to see their site specific written, dated and signed PPE assessment
and then ask to talk to the person who was supposed
to have conducted it, they get that glazed look in their eyes.
Many employers have generic statements in their safety manuals
but when we ask for each work area’s written assessment,
they do not have one. According to “29 CFR 1910.132
(d)(2) The employer shall verify that the required workplace
hazard assessment has been performed through a written
certification that identifies the workplace evaluated; the person
certifying that the evaluation has been performed; the
date(s) of the hazard assessment; and, which identifies the
document as a certification of hazard assessment.”
Failing to properly train of enforce personal protective
equipment is still on OSHA top ten citations. This is the year
2017, if the employer has a proper safety program and if
they are training the employees and finally enforcing the
OSHA standard they should not worry if OSHA pays them
a visit. Chances are if we visited your facility and asked the
questions, I would bet you a free consultation that many of
your managers and employees could not answer this basic
question. “What American National Standards Institute
(ANSI) standard do safety glasses have to meet and what
does that standard state?” If they cannot answer that basic
question or if your program does not cover the specific ANSI
Z-87 language in that standard you do not have an effective
personal protective equipment program.
Should you have questions concerning your program,
please feel free to contact us. We can help you implement
an effective program.
For more information, click on the author biography at the top of the page.