Hazards of varying degrees exist in all workplaces. Ideally these hazards
should be eliminated, controlled at the source or reduced through
administrative measures. When all other methods are either not available or
impossible to implement, personal protective equipment (PPE), the last level of
protection, may be used so that work can continue safely.
Understanding the basics of PPE and its selection can play an important part in
developing and maintaining a complete health and safety program.
Once the need for PPE has been established, the next task is to select the
proper type. Use the following guidelines to help you select the best PPE.
- Match the PPE to the hazard. There are no shortcuts to PPE selection. Conduct
a complete hazard assessment and choose the right PPE to match the hazards.
- Get expert advice and shop around. Discuss your needs with an occupational
health and safety specialist and trained sales representatives. Ask for
alternatives, and check into product claims and test data.
- Involve workers in evaluations. The most common reason for failure of a PPE
program is the inability to overcome worker objections to wearing it. Bring
approved models into the workplace for trials so workers have the opportunity
to evaluate various models.
- Consider the physical comfort of PPE (ergonomics). If a PPE device is
unnecessarily heavy or poorly fitted it is unlikely that it will be worn. Use
every opportunity to provide flexibility in the choice of PPE as long as it
meets required legislation and standards.
- Evaluate cost considerations. The cost of PPE is often a concern and
disposable options are not always cheaper in the long term.
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