Protective equipment is the foundation for loss prevention program
 June 28, 2013

A critical component in preventing work related injuries for most manufacturers is the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that employers provide personal protective equipment and training to employees who are or may be exposed to physical or health hazards in the workplace, when engineering and administrative controls cannot feasibly or effectively reduce exposures to acceptably safe levels.

PPE is designed to protect your workers from serious workplace injuries or illnesses resulting from contact with specific hazards. The hazards might be:

  • Chemical
  • Radiological
  • Physical
  • Electrical
  • Mechanical

Hazard Assessment
To determine if any of these hazards are present and could be addressed by PPE, you must conduct routine assessments on the jobs employees perform to identify hazards, determine the preventive measures that might apply to them and implement engineering controls, administrative controls and determine the applicable use of PPE. This is not a recommendation. It is a mandate and must be documented.

If hazards are present, or likely to be present, and PPE will address the hazard you must:

  • Select and make sure each affected employee uses the types of PPE that will protect the worker from the hazards identified in your assessment.
  • Communicate PPE selection decisions to each affected employee.
  • Make PPE available that properly fits each affected employee.
  • Train the employee in the proper use of the PPE.

The two basic objectives of any PPE program are to: ??????? 1.Protect users from workplace hazards.
2.Prevent users from being injured if there is a malfunction of PPE or if they use the equipment incorrectly.

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Cost of PPE
Employers must pay for most types of PPE when used by employees exclusively in the workplace (i.e., not for personal use at home or other non-workplace activities).

  • PPE replacement. Employers must pay to replace worn or damaged PPE as part of their obligation to ensure that the PPE is in good condition. However, they are not required to pay for replacement when the employee has lost or intentionally damaged the PPE.
  • Employee-owned PPE. When an employee voluntarily purchases and wears his or her own PPE and is allowed to use it at the workplace, you are not required to reimburse the employee for that equipment. If employees are allowed to use their own PPE, however, employers are responsible for its adequacy, maintenance, and sanitation.

If an employee has provided his or her own PPE but your hazard assessment determines that an upgrade to or replacement of PPE is required, then you must pay for the upgrade or replacement regardless of who paid for the original PPE.

Here's a quick review of some minimum PPE requirements as recommended by OSHA:

  • Provide adequate protection against the particular hazards for which they are designed
  • Be of safe design and construction for the work to be performed
  • Be reasonably comfortable when worn under the designated conditions Fit snugly and not unduly interfere with the movements of the wearer Be durable
  • Be capable of being disinfected
  • Be easily cleaned
  • Be distinctly marked to facilitate identification of the manufacturer

Training
OSHA imposes minimum requirements for training on the use of PPE. Each employee who is required to wear any type of PPE must be trained to know at least the following:

  • When PPE is necessary
  • What PPE is necessary
  • How to properly wear and adjust PPE Limitations of the PPE
  • Proper care, maintenance, useful life, and disposal of the PPE

PPE training must be conducted by a knowledgeable person and presented in a manner that the employee can understand. (This means in a language employees can understand, as well as, a comprehension level that they can understand.) Additionally, employees must be able to demonstrate an understanding of the training and the ability to use PPE properly before being allowed to perform work requiring the use of PPE. This training must be documented.

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