A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO PPE
In some workplaces there are risks or hazards, if so, you will wear special equipment, this is called personal protective equipment or PPE, there is different PPE for different jobs and work sites, you must wear the correct PPE for your job, sometimes employers give you personal protective equipment, in some jobs you will have to buy it yourself, employers must teach you what hazards there are and train you to do the job safely.
What is PPE?
According to the Labor Code, PPE is “any device or appliance designed to be worn by an individual when exposed to one or more health and safety hazards”. This equipment, which is recommended or even compulsory for certain tasks, can take several forms: helmets, protective masks, earplugs, work gloves, safety shoes, harnesses, work clothes, etc. There is a whole range of protective products for the whole body to deal with different types of risks linked to the work environment. PPE thus becomes a real field of protection against threats to the health and safety of its user. It intervenes in risk prevention.
What is PPE at workplace ?
Organizations are required to take measures to minimize exposure of employees to hazardous situations and materials. PPE is an important barrier between a worker and the environment. Different tasks require different types of PPE. Organizations must train their employees on the proper way to wear, inspect and maintain PPE for each task associated with each job.
In the personal protective equipment for employees training course, employees will learn about the purpose and importance of PPE as follows:
- How to properly use and maintain a hardhat including proper care and maintenance of head protection.
- How to wear and maintain eye and face protection.
- How to inspect and maintain hearing protection.
- Types of hand and foot protection and associated hazards.
- General hazards and prerequisites that require respiratory protection.
- General hazards and prerequisites that require respiratory protection.
Combined with the resources available within your risk management platform, including example policies and procedures, posters, training shorts, and the job hazard analysis identification and tracking tools. Available in BBS track and safety observation track. You have the resources you need to ensure your organization maintains safe workplace practices.
Different categories of PPE
As there are various types of occupational risks, PPE is classified into three categories, depending on the severity of the risk:
- Category 1: against low risks and superficial injuries, This may involve slight shocks or vibrations that do not cause any irreversible damage to the body. Work gloves fall into this category of minor risks.
- Category 2: against medium risks and severe injuries. On the contrary, these injuries could affect vital parts of the body with and therefore some health damages. This category includes cut protection gloves for example.
- Category 3: against serious risks, irreversible injuries and deadly hazards.
These are situations that can lead to death, such as falls from heights during construction work. For example, the safety harness intended to be worn on a scaffold is category 3 PPE.
Combination of PPE
PPE is crucial for ensuring the safety and well-being of workers in various industries. However, it is essential to carefully consider the combination of PPE used to mitigate risks effectively.
Selecting the right combination of PPE is critical for protecting workers from workplace hazards. Understanding the compatibility and effectiveness of different PPE items, addressing overlapping and gaps in protection, providing proper training, and conducting regular assessments are all crucial steps to mitigate risks effectively. Employers and safety professionals should work together to ensure that workers have the appropriate and well-suited combination of PPE, reducing the likelihood of accidents and promoting a safe working environment.
Compatibility and Effectiveness:
The combination of PPE should be compatible and work together effectively to provide comprehensive protection. Mixing incompatible PPE or using items from different manufacturers may compromise their functionality and reduce overall effectiveness. For example, wearing a respirator that does not properly fit with a particular type of safety glasses may cause discomfort or impair vision, potentially putting the worker at risk.
Overlapping or Gaps in Protection:
Improper combinations of PPE can lead to overlapping or insufficient protection. Overlapping occurs when multiple PPE items offer similar levels of protection for the same hazard, which can impede mobility and reduce comfort for the worker. On the other hand, gaps in protection occur when certain hazards are not adequately addressed by the chosen combination of PPE. Identifying and addressing these gaps is crucial to ensure comprehensive protection.
Training and Education:
Proper training and education play a vital role in preventing the misuse or inadequate combination of PPE. Workers should receive training on the appropriate selection, use, maintenance, and limitations of each PPE item. Employers should provide clear guidelines and policies to promote the correct combination of PPE and ensure workers understand the potential risks associated with improper combinations.
Regular Assessments and Updates:
As workplaces evolve and new hazards emerge, it is essential to regularly reassess and update the combination of PPE. Conducting risk assessments and consulting with safety professionals can help identify potential gaps or improvements in the PPE selection. Regular reviews and updates ensure that workers are equipped with the most effective and appropriate combination of PPE for their specific work environment.
List of mandatory PPE
When collective protection is no longer sufficient, the employer must provide each of his employees with appropriate PPE against the risks involved in order to guarantee their safety and health at work. These can be:
- Thermal risks (exposure to very low temperatures in cold rooms, splashing of molten metal, etc.);
- Chemical risks (inhalation of toxic fumes) ;
- Electrical hazards (handling live parts) ;
- Mechanical risks (cuts, falls, splashes into the eye) ;
- As well as, the risks induced by laser or UV radiation, and noise.
The employer is responsible for assessing the risks beforehand in order to provide the appropriate PPE, in sufficient quantity and according to the wearer’s body type, so that the wearer is safe at his or her workstation and in full ergonomics.
Therefore, the PPE concerns :
- Head protection: construction site helmets for the head, caps with visors, masks or goggles for eye protection, earplugs for hearing protection and filter cartridge masks for effective respiratory protection in case of risk of inhalation of toxic fumes.
- Hand protection: protective gloves should be worn if the hands are particularly exposed and protective sleeves can be added for the forearms.
- Foot protection: safety shoes.
- Body protection: coveralls. A wide range of multi-norm protective workwear is available today.
Nevertheless, the employer must apply the general principles of prevention by taking all the necessary measures to protect the employee using suitable personal & collective protective equipment.
How do you measure the performance of PPE?
In addition to the information leaflet, the performance of PPE can be verified by its CE marking. Indeed, this corresponds to a standard. European standards define the test conditions and performance requirements for PPE before it is placed on the market. Depending on the results, different levels of performance are attributed to certain PPE. Naturally, these levels must be taken into account when choosing PPE, depending on the risk to which the worker is exposed. However, performance level should not be confused with protection level. Indeed, not all conditions of use in a work situation are necessarily met in the context of a test; performance is not necessarily equivalent to protection time.
How should PPE be stored?
PPE plays a vital role in safeguarding individuals from workplace hazards. However, it is equally important to store PPE properly to ensure its effectiveness and longevity.
Proper storage of PPE is essential for maintaining its effectiveness and prolonging its lifespan. By following the recommended storage practices, such as storing PPE in a clean and dry environment, segregating items, using sealed containers, conducting regular inspections, and ensuring accessibility, organizations can ensure that their PPE is readily available, in good condition, and capable of providing the necessary protection when it is needed the most.
Clean and Dry Environment:
PPE should be stored in a clean and dry environment to prevent contamination and maintain its integrity. Store PPE in designated areas away from dirt, chemicals, direct sunlight, extreme temperatures, and excessive moisture.
PPE should be stored separately from other items or materials to avoid cross-contamination. Use designated storage cabinets, lockers, or shelves specifically designated for PPE to keep them organized and easily accessible.
Proper Hanging and Drying:
Items such as helmets, safety harnesses, and coveralls should be hung properly to retain their shape and functionality. Ensure that helmets are hung by their chinstraps to prevent distortion. Similarly, harnesses and coveralls should be hung or folded neatly to prevent creasing and damage.
Sealed Containers for Small Items:
Small PPE items like gloves, safety glasses, or earplugs should be stored in sealed containers to protect them from dust, moisture, and damage. Use resealable bags or containers with lids to keep these items clean and readily available when needed.
Periodically inspect the stored PPE to ensure its condition and functionality. Check for any signs of wear and tear, deterioration, or expiration dates. Replace damaged or expired PPE promptly to maintain the highest level of protection.
Clearly label storage areas for different types of PPE to facilitate easy identification and retrieval. Use labels or color-coding systems to differentiate between different PPE categories such as eye protection, respiratory protection, or hand protection.
Ensure that stored PPE is easily accessible to workers whenever needed. Avoid blocking access to PPE storage areas and maintain clear pathways to retrieve PPE quickly during emergencies or routine use.
Training and Awareness:
Educate employees on the importance of proper PPE storage and its impact on safety. Provide training on the correct storage procedures, emphasize the significance of maintaining PPE in good condition, and encourage employees to report any storage-related issues promptly.
PPE should be your last line of defense
PPE is your last line of defense against harm, PPE is your last chance to reduce risks, and is used to protect you if other controls fail some hazards may still remain even though other controls, like engineering controls and safe systems of work are used on site. harm to people from these hazards can indude injuries to the lungs: from breathing contaminated air, the head: from falling objects, the feet: from flying particles, the eyes: from particles or splashes, the body from extremes of heat or cold and the skin: from contagt with corrosive substances, wearing and using PPE is your last chance to reduce the risks.
The PPE, and the PPE at work regulations cover PPE use emmployers must eliminate or reduce risks, and where risks remain, PPE must be provided, PPE mus be supplied and used at work wherever there is a risk, that has not been fully eliminated through other control measures. Emmployees must use the PPE that is provided cormectly, there are other regulations that cover spedal PPE requfrements. Such as hazardous substances, noiseasbestos and radliation.
Always use suitable PPE for the task, if you are unsure how to use PPE, ask check PPE is in good condition before use always wear and use PPE correctly make sure PPE fits you comfortably, check safety signs for PPE requirements, check multiple PPE items are compatible with each other, if you don’t have the right PPE, report it, look after your PPE and it will look after you. Store PPE correctly after use don’t take PPE off site if it doesn’t belong to you without permission, if there’s a problem with your PPE, report it PPE is your last line of defense against harm. Can only protetyou if you wear and use it corredtly chedk your PPE fits you and is in good condition, you have a duty to wear the PPE provided. Keep an eye out for signs telling you what PPE to wear and obey them.