PPE is safety equipment worn to minimize exposure to hazardous substances. PPE includes items like helmets, earplugs, respiratory protective equipment (RPE), gloves, full bodysuits, and foot protection, etc.
An effective PPE Management system should ensure that the required equipment is provided to be worn under particular circumstances. For Instance,
Head Protection – is necessary when there is a possibility that the worker may be struck on the head by any falling object, or might have contact with an electrical hazard.
Full Body Protection – when there is a possibility of worker’s exposure to specific infection agents or hazardous chemicals.
Face Protection – becomes essential when there is a risk of flying particles, dust, splashing substance, vapors, and high-intensity radiation.
Hearing Protection – is needed when there is a risk for workers to lose hearing capability due to loud noise.
Respiratory Protection – to make sure that the staff members are not exposed to the atmosphere that is or may be injurious to health.
Hand Protection – when there is an identified risk that might cause hand injury or transmission of infection.
Foot protection – for staff in occupations such as workshops or gardening where the nature of work exposes the staff to risk of a foot injury.
Role of personal protective equipment (PPE) :
Managing to protect workers is essential in every workplace. As discussed above, many methods are available, and the most appropriate to that particular situation must be used.
In the hierarchy of risk control, PPE is ranked low. It is appropriate to use PPE only when the hazard cannot be controlled. In scenarios where the hazard is totally removable, then it is recommended to do so instead of using PPE.
Doing so will be effective in so many ways, such as,
Actions to control the risk at the source can protect all the workers, whereas PPE protects only the person using it.
PPE may limit the user with visibility or it could be seen as an additional weight to be carried.
How to design a PPE program?
The program must be comprehensive. It requires full commitment in all stages like planning, development, and implementation. An effective Personal protective equipment management program should consist of :
- Risk assessment and hazard identification.
- Appropriate controls must be selected.
- Appropriate PPE must be used.
- Education and Training should be provided.
- Better Management support
- Provide Maintenance
The health and safety policy of the organization must be considered as a principal statement. Ensuring that the policy procedures are carried out will be done by the organization’s senior management. The program must provide equal importance to the organization’s policies and procedures.
The program coordinator will be the person to make sure that each of the elements of a program is operational and successful.
A PPE management system must be planned, developed, and implemented carefully. If the worker is new to the usage of PPE, the organization should allow them to choose the best fit for them, to become accustomed to wearing that PPE so that the work complies with the program without any enforcement action taken.
It is better to involve the workers in every stage of the program to make the implementation and operation of the program so efficient and smooth. There must be proper training provided on how to wear the PPE and educate them on why it is necessary.
The organization must offer some flexibility by providing various models for the worker to choose from. If the PPE program is unattractive or uncomfortable, the worker’s compliance with the program is more likely to be poor.
If any concerts raise and the worker removes the PPE for even a short period of time, the protection provided will reduce drastically.
For instance, hearing protectors are provided to safeguard ears and it should be worn all the time. If it is removed even for a short span of time, in some scenarios due to more noise the worker might completely lose the hearing capability or have a reduced hearing over a period of time.
Hence it is better to make sure that the workers wear the PPE provided to them all the time when they are in the workplace.
Steps in Selection of PPE :
Two important criteria while selecting a PPE is to determine what degree of protection is necessary, and the appropriateness of the equipment for the situation.
- Choose the right PPE to match the Hazard
- Obtain some advice
- Involve workers during the evaluation
- Considering the comforts of the PPE
- Evaluate cost considerations
- Review standards
- Check the fit
- Perform inspections regularly
- Proper maintenance
- Provide training with proper education
- Consult and get support from all departments
Audit the program
It is greatly recommended to compare the safety performance to date. This comparison would help to determine the success of the program.