The ABCs of PPE

Personal protective equipment is a fundamental part of protecting construction workers from serious workplace injuries that may result from contact with chemical, radiological, physical, electrical or mechanical hazards. Personal protective equipment may include items such as gloves, safety glasses and shoes, earplugs or muffs, hard hats, respirators, or coveralls, vests and full body suits.

OSHA’s standard for construction PPE (1926.28(a) requires that all personal protective equipment be safely designed and constructed, and be maintained in a clean and reliable fashion. It should fit comfortably, encouraging worker use. If the personal protective equipment does not fit properly, it can make the difference between being safely covered or dangerously exposed. When engineering, work practice, and administrative controls are not feasible or do not provide sufficient protection, employers must provide personal protective equipment to their workers and ensure its proper use. Employers are also required to train each worker required to use personal protective equipment.

Employers need to determinewhen PPE is necessary; what kind is necessary; how to properly put PPE on, adjust, wear and take protection off; The limitations of the equipment; Proper care, maintenance, useful life, and disposal of the equipment. OSHA’s PPE standards are also equivalent to the standards developed by the American National Standards Institute.

Specifically, the following are examples of scenarios that will affect a PPE program:

  • Do your employees handle, or work near employees who handle, hazardous liquid chemicals?
  • Are your employees’ faces exposed to extreme heat?
  • Do your employees work with or near exposed electrical wiring or components?
  • Do your employees’ hands come into contact with tools or materials that might scrape, bruise, or cut?

The basics of a PPE program may seem elementary, but overlooking the obvious can mean the difference between safety and serious injury. Poorly fitting eye and face protection will not offer the necessary protection. [29 CFR1926.102(a)(6)(iii)]. Above all, PPE should not restrict vision or movement.

  • Fitting of goggles and safety spectacles should be done by someone skilled in the procedure.
  • Prescription safety spectacles should be fitted only by qualified optical personnel.
  • Devices with adjustable features should be fitted on an individual basis to provide a comfortable fit that maintains the device in the proper position.
  • Eye protection from dust and chemical splash should form a protective seal when fitted properly.
  • Welding helmets and face shields must be properly fitted to ensure that they will not fall off during work operations.

For more expert advice on developing and maintaining a PPE program, as well as recommended products, contact our offices at Diversified Safety Services.

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Nina McGinley

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