Employers have duties concerning the provision and use of personal protective equipment (PPE) at work.
PPE is equipment that will protect the user against health or safety risks at work. It can include items such as safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses. It also includes respiratory protective equipment (RPE).
Making the workplace safe includes providing instructions, procedures, training and supervision to encourage people to work safely and responsibly. Even where engineering controls and safe systems of work have been applied, some hazards might remain. A lot of the time, PPE can be used to reduce the remaining risks.
Although PPE is very effective, it should be used as a last resort. You should always try eliminate or reduce the risk before you turn to PPE. All appropriate PPE should be free of charge to your employees; it is your duty to look after them and make sure they are safe. You should also choose equipment carefully and make sure employees are trained in how to use it properly and how to detect and report any faults.
When you’re selecting and using PPE you must:
- Choose products which are CE marked in accordance with the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002.
- Choose equipment that suits the user e.g. the size, fit and weight of the PPE.
- If more than one item of PPE is worn at the same time, make sure they can be used together, e.g. wearing safety glasses may disturb the seal of a respirator, causing air leaks.
- Instruct and train people how to use it, e.g. train people to remove gloves without contaminating their skin.
All PPE must be properly looked after and stored when not in use, if the equipment is reusable it must be kept cleaned and in good condition. While maintaining PPE you should think about:
- Using the right replacement parts which match the original, e.g. respirator filters.
- Keeping replacement PPE available.
- Who is responsible for maintenance and how it is to be done.
- Having a supply of appropriate disposable suits which are useful for dirty jobs where laundry costs are high, e.g. for visitors who need protective clothing.
PPE should be monitored and reviewed regularly. You should check if PPE is being used by your employees. If it isn’t, you should find out why. Safety signs can be useful in reminding people that PPE should be worn. Take note of any changes in equipment, materials and methods – you may need to update what you provide.
All information was taken from the HSE. http://www.hse.gov.uk/toolbox/ppe.htm
Watch our video on PPE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tO8UiWjv1Zo
Look at a previous news article on PPE: https://cravensafetyservices.co.uk/ppe-personal-protective-equipment/