PPE is not used to control the hazard but to limit the exposure to the harmful effects of the hazard. Each industry has its own tasks and hazard and will require different types of PPE. With this said PPE should only be used as a last line of defense and only select the necessary PPE for each specific task.
When requiring PPE, keep the following in mind:
- Know how PPE must protect you
Each item of PPE is designed to protect a specific body part. As a rule on our sites, all workers must wear a hard hat, safety shoes, overalls and a reflective bib or jacket. These are the basic requirements, and specific jobs call for extra protection. Understand your instructions and the job ahead will make it easier to select the necessary PPE.
- Know when to use PPE
Each industry has its own hazards. These hazards must firstly be analyzed, see if it can be eliminated, substituted or controlled. The last resort must be PPE. Task specific training must be done regularly to ensure that all employees know what PPE to use when. Training on how to use PPE items is just as important! Work the training into informal weekly Toolbox Talks.
- Know what PPE to purchase
When acquiring PPE, make sure that the required items meet the hazards of the workplace. Some fabrics are designed to protect employees when working with chemicals, but wouldn’t be effective against fire. Safety glasses will protect employees doing chisel work, but will not protect employees doing flame cutting. Equally as important, pay attention to the manufacturer’s ratings and test results!
- Know when to replace PPE
As with any equipment, PPE can be worn out or damaged. Some PPE actually do have “expiry dates” – hardhats for instance must not be used for longer than 5 years. Clean and check all PPE regularly for any dents, cracks of tears and replace immediately if necessary. We make use of a PPE Issue Register to make sure all employees receive the required PPE, and any damaged PPE must be handed in before new PPE is issued.
PPE will not prevent any incidents from happening, but will protect you when it does. Be alert and always follow good working practices!
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