PPE is essential to keep workers safe while doing their job. OSHA, being the leading agency concerning workplace safety, has issued several standards where all the PPE requirements are contained, here are the standards:
- Construction Industry (29 CFR 1926 Subpart E)
o 1926.95 Criteria for personal protective equipment
o 1926.96 Occupational foot protection
o 1926.100 Head protection
o 1926.102 Eye and face protection
o 1926.103 Respiratory protection
o 1926.104 Safety belts, lifelines, and lanyards
o 1926.105 Safety nets
- General Industry (29 CFR 1910 Subpart I)
o 1910.132 General requirements
o 1910.133 Eye and face protection
o 1910.134 Respiratory protection
o 1910.135 Head protection
o 1910.136 Foot protection
o 1910.137 Electrical protective equipment
o 1910.138 Hand protection
o 1910.140 Personal fall protection systems
- Maritime (29 CFR 1915 Subpart I)
o 1915.152 General requirements
o 1915.153 Eye and face protection
o 1915.154 Respiratory protection
o 1915.155 Head protection
o 1915.156 Foot protection
o 1915.157 Hand and body protection
o 1915.158 Lifesaving equipment
o 1915.159 Personal fall arrest systems (PFAS)
- Marine Terminals (29 CFR 1917 Subpart E)
o 1917.91 Eye and face protection
o 1917.92 Respiratory protection
o 1917.93 Head protection
o 1917.94 Foot protection
o 1917.95 Other protective measures
o 1917.96 Payment for protective equipment
- Long Shoring (29 CFR 1918 Subpart J)
o 1918.101 Eye and face protection
o 1918.102 Respiratory protection
o 1918.103 Head protection
o 1918.104 Foot protection
o 1918.105 Other protective measures
Ways You Can Do to Keep Workers Safe
- Comply with the OSHA PPE requirements that are specific to your industry. As mentioned above, there are three standards regarding PPE. Follow the link to learn more about the specific requirements of each standard.
- Conduct hazard assessment in the workplace. In an industry such as construction where there are a lot of things going on, business owners can’t completely eradicate hazards, the risk will always be there. You can keep the workers onsite by providing them with the appropriate PPE. To stay compliant with OSHA, you as the owner, must conduct hazard assessment onsite. Doing so enables you to identify what’s common hazards that are present every day. This is a basic categorization – you can classify what are the ones that are more serious what isn’t. In this way, you can prioritize actions to be taken to minimize the risk of accidents.
- Provide suitable training on how to use a certain type of PPE. For example, if your employees will work in a confined space where ventilation and oxygen supply are restricted, breathing apparatus is needed. Prior to work commencement, personnel training on how to use the apparatus safety must be conducted first.
- Keep records of accidents and injuries in the workplace. This is very much applicable if you have 10 or more workers. Why is record keeping important then? Having a computerized or even a written record is a good source of information to track employees who are frequently involved in accidents or determine the sources of hazards in the workplace. With this information readily available, corrective action can now be taken such as reprimanding of workers, provision of appropriate training, or carrying out hazard assessment/risk analysis.
What is Personal Protective Equipment?
Personal Protective Equipment, commonly known as PPE, is designed to protect the employees against severe health or safety risks on their job. It is essential because it gives you more protection in illness and accident from contact with chemical, physical, biological, thermal, medical, radiological, mechanical, electrical, and other possible hazards.
Careful selection and sufficient PPE are necessary for the workplace, especially on the construction site and laboratory. Assessing risks is very important for the safety of the employees. It begins with the walkthrough survey of the facility's primary hazards, history and sources of impact, penetration, compression, heat or cold, harmful dust, and others. It is not enough to use a single combination of PPE with clothing against all the hazards in the workplace.
That is why PPE goes along with other protective methods such as safety control procedures. Levels of PPE fall into four categories, including Level A, B, C, and D, based on the degree of protection.
Level A must wear when the highest level of the skin, eye, and respiratory protection is needed. Level B protection should wear when the highest level of respiratory protection is required but a lower skin level. Level C must wear when there is a lower respiratory and skin protection level. Level D is the lowest level of respiratory and skin protection. This level should not wear with a high risk of respiratory and skin hazards. Selection in the Levels of PPE, elements in the management program, and limitations should follow the OSHA guidelines.
What are the 6 Basic Personal Protective Equipment?
The essential personal protective equipment list includes gloves, safety shoes, safety goggles, respirators, earplugs, and hard hats commonly used in sites. Being a Chemical Technician working in the laboratory, the former superior is not allowing the analysts to start working without personal protective equipment.
Laboratory analysts are prone to hazardous chemicals such as organic, inorganic, strong acid, and base solutions that might harm our health when exposed for a very long time. We used nitrile gloves because it is much better at preventing chemicals from penetrating instead of using surgical gloves. Aside from gloves, we are not allowed to use our working shoes. Instead, we are required to use white safety shoes solely needed inside the laboratory to protect ourselves when chemicals accidentally drop on the floor.
Masks are needed to avoid inhalation of fumes, while respirators are commonly used inside the fume hood when preparing acid solutions or any solutions that cause high fumes or vapors. The most important personal protective equipment we must have is a laboratory coat to protect ourselves. We used high-resistant gloves and a face shield when doing laboratory tests in the hot room. The company must also follow compliance with Good Laboratory Practices (GLP) and Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) under Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Wearing PPE keeps us safe, and how vital is safety? Safety reduces employees' absences due to injury that causes loss of days affecting the quality of work. Ensuring safety increases employees' motivation and commitment, enabling their clients or customers to exceed expectations. Safety also decreases the company insurance premium costs. Safety and quality are well-chosen to be complementary work goals.
The Importance of Using Personal Protective Equipment
Most of us are familiar with the expression, “Prevention is better than cure,” which is rationalized by a Dutch Philosopher named Desiderius Erasmus and said that it is better to secure safety first rather than deal with consequences later. Safety is often defined as being safe or away from possible illness, injuries, accidents, and hazards.
Many organizations think less about safety, but it is the most critical component for success. It is impossible to overlook safety without quality. That’s why either in manufacturing or construction, companies put better care in maintaining safety and quality as the pillar of their business to serve their customers better and protect their employees.
Quality is described as how excellent a product or service exceeds customer needs. Safety improves quality and vice versa. Safety also increases the productivity of the employees that puts more attention to the quality of the work. These can be utilized by starting with their company’s core values, culture on how they treat their employees, and safety. Safety improves the business outcome even though this requires additional time and money because dangerous operations may lead to time loss and injured employees. It is better to invest in preventive care complying with federal, state, and regional regulations than a large amount lost due to an emergency. Safety starts with proper hazard assessment and providing appropriate personal protective equipment for employees.
How to Select Proper Personal Protective Equipment?
Employers should be aware of different types of PPE because they are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace for their employees. When selecting appropriate PPE, always consult your employees because they are more familiar with their work environment and might identify overlooked issues, like obtaining the correct size. It is necessary to train employees regarding when and what PPE is needed to use. Also periodically provide guidelines, reviews, updates, evaluations of the effectiveness of the PPE in the workplace.
The following are the different types of PPE that give the highest protection based on their purposes:
- Eye and Face Protection
- Head Protection
- Foot and Leg Protection
- Hand and Arm Protection
- Body Protection
- Hearing Protection
OSHA requires that the categories of PPE meet the standards developed by American National Standards Institute (ANSI). ANSI first started safety standards in 1992 to protect the heads and eyes of industrial workers.
There are no ANSI standards for hand protection, but OSHA recommends that the gloves select according to the tasks needed to perform. For example, the selection of gloves against hazardous chemicals based on the category of the substances encountered. That's why it is crucial to be familiar with the gloves' chemical resistance and physical properties. PPE should be safe design and well maintained cleanly and reliably by ensuring that the PPE meets the relevant regulations.
If PPE fits and gives comfort to the employees, this provides the most outstanding protection, and they will be encouraged to use those PPE. When different types of PPE wear together, they must still be comfortable and do not interfere with each other's functions.
How Do We Manage Safety in Our Workplace?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), an agency within the Department of Labor, enforced standards and enhanced workers' safety and healthful working environment. OSHA recommends engineering controls like proper ventilation, lockout-tag out (LOTO), machine guards, and smoke detectors during electrical maintenance.
Another key with compliance with non-negotiable rules includes work permit and prevention plans, control of energy, control of confined places, control working at height, following safety rules in driving such as wearing seatbelts, elimination of flammables and ignition sources, line of fire by establishing machine barriers and exclusion zones, planning of safe mechanical lifting, compliance with substance abuse and managing fatigue. Hazards are everywhere, whether outside or inside your workplace or even your home. These include sharp edges, dangerous chemicals, and falling objects.
Construction workers experienced hearing difficulty for prolonged exposure to hazardous noise. After assessing potential hazards, safety protocols must be implemented to keep employees safe and prevent dangers that cause injury. When safety protocols do not provide sufficient protection, employers must give complete personal protective equipment (PPE) and ensure that employees properly use it. Employees should know about conducting basic workplace hazard assessments, understand PPE types, and provide proper use and care training.