What Is Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for Occupational Safety?
Personal protective equipment (PPE) describes any equipment designed to protect workers from physical hazards in the workplace. The PPE serves as an additional occupational safety device for risk prevention. First and foremost, workplace hazards should always be avoided and proactively minimized.
Here is a brief overview of PPE requirements:
- PPE is primarily used in the construction industry, where it is being used with increasing frequency.
- A distinction is made between head, body, foot, hand, face, breathing and fall protection
- PPE offers occupational safety and protection against illegality and fines
- In addition to provision, employees must also carry out maintenance, training and checks.
By means of a risk assessment and work safety analysis, safety officers can mitigate the risk of injuries and accidents in the workplace. If defects are found, employees can initiate corrective action immediately. A regular PPE inspection will also reveal frequently occurring defects and identify risks that help when selecting suitable personal protective equipment for each hazardous task.
This article covers:
What Does Personal Protective Equipment Include?
PSA safety at work helps employees to carry out work processes when risks are absolutely unavoidable. It’s important to choose the right protective equipment and clarify its exact purposes in order to avoid serious accidents, legal disputes, and fines as much as possible. In the following, you will learn which types of PPE there are and which of them are indispensable for your industry:
Head protection is always necessary when massive objects or forces fall on the head or can affect it. For the following work, head protection is of utmost importance:
- On construction sites
- When working with molten metal
- When working with large devices
- Working with elevators and cranes
- When working with explosives
The body protection is to be divided into hand, foot, and body protection. Hand protection is used if skin burns, cuts, or even serious injuries such as amputations or similar injuries are a possibility on a worksite, for example, during assembly work. Foot protection, such as protective boots or knee pads, is always necessary if heavy objects can fall or roll on the floor or if the floor is not non-slip. Finally, general body protection is necessary when dealing with chemicals, radiation, flames, high temperatures, etc.
Face protection is mainly used to prevent damage to the eyes such as loss of sight when handling chemicals. Protective goggles should always be in perfect condition and cover the entirety of the face.
Hearing protection is also of great importance when handling equipment, for example, during welding work, in order to prevent long-term damage to the eardrum.
Protection of the Respiratory Tract
Respiratory protection, such as a mask, is necessary when handling toxic substances and liquids.
Fall protection is one of the most important types of protective equipment and requires strict control, as falling accidents are among the most frequent workplace accidents. Safety belts and buckles should always be in ideal condition.
How to Use the STOP Principle With PPE?
Workplace safety should start with a strong assessment of workplace risks. Once the hazards and risks have been accurately identified, a plan to prioritize and reduce the risk of injury can be developed and then presented. Useful tools for conducting an assessment include risk assessment and job safety analysis.
If safety officers discover health risks that could affect employees, then protective measures must be prioritized according to the S-T-O-P principle:
- Substitution: Changing the entire work process or the use of operating resources in order to reduce the physical strain in the workplace.
- Technical solutions: Replacement or retrofitting of machines, tools, and other technical equipment that pose a health hazard.
- Organizational measures: The source of danger is separated from the employees in terms of space and time.
- Personal protection measures: The individual protection of each employee by personal protective equipment (PPE).
In accordance with the Ordinance on Industrial Safety and Health, PPE may only be used after all alternatives have been examined. Only when the use of other higher-ranking protective measures can be ruled out, should the following PPE categories be reviewed for their necessity within the company.
Why Wear PPE Equipment? – 3 Good Reasons
Despite its obvious importance for occupational safety, devastating accidents at work occur time and again due to unused, incorrect, insufficient, or damaged PPE stock and improper handling. The correct training of employees, as well as the organization of the equipment, is half the battle. So here are the top 3 reasons for the use and obligation to wear safety clothing.
- Security of Employees
The safety of employees depends on a variety of factors because even comprehensive security controls and risk assessments cannot reduce certain dangers in their entirety. Careless handling of these risks can lead to devastating lifelong health damage.
- Legal Protection
As PPE is an integral part of occupational health and safety, the use of safety equipment, according to the industries and their activities, is mandatory and regulated by law. If the use of PPE is omitted or not documented, this can lead to legal consequences, which can have fatal consequences for the reputation of your company.
- Avoidance of Fines
One thing is certain: you should never cut back on occupational safety because, if accidents do occur, this will lead to much higher expenses. From a financial point of view, it’s more economical to take care of your employees by using the right safety and protective equipment.
Which PPE’s Must the Employer Provide?
As an employer, you have the responsibility for the well-being of your employees. This includes a number of responsibilities that should never be neglected and always fully documented. You have the following four duties to your employees:
- Provision of PPE
PPE is used when organizational or technical methods to contain the risk are not effective. PPE must always comply with Regulation (US) 1910.132 of the United States Department of Labor. The protective equipment must be used in the event of health hazards and fatalities and should always be provided free of charge by the employer.
Employers must enforce that employees report and replace defective equipment and protective clothing immediately; in addition, independent checks must be carried out regularly by responsible persons.
Information on the correct use of the equipment must be provided to the worker when the items are handed over. In addition, regular training courses should be held to ensure that workers are aware of occupational health and safety and the handling and maintenance of PPE.
After all, it is not only important to educate employees on the responsible use of PPE, but also to ensure occupational safety through safety analyses and risk assessments. This works best with the use of digital technologies.
5 Steps to Ensure the Integrity of PPE With a Mobile Checklist
Step 1: Create a free Lumiform account to get started.
Step 2: Download and adapt a template for the PPE checklist.
Step 3: Install the Lumiform app on your smartphone or tablet and perform an inspection.
Step 4: Take photos, perform actions and create reports automatically via the mobile device.
Step 5: Invite teammates, save time, make work places safer and save lives.
A Digital App for the PPE Checklist
Loss of working hours due to sick or injured employees is very expensive. However, with Lumiform’s mobile app, every safety officer can easily perform the PPE inspection using a digital form. The desktop software is used to create checklists and evaluate the collected data. This significantly reduces the risk of PPE defects, documentation errors and damage to reputation.
Easy communication with all team members and stakeholders allows significantly more efficient internal processes and faster resolution of incidents. With Lumiform’s digital solution, companies can protect their employees and avoid productivity and revenue losses by maintaining full visibility in real-time.
The se of a digital checklist for PPE enables:
- Obtain real-time data on the PPE inspection. This makes safety and quality measurable.
- Get an overview of everything that happens during a PPE inspections.
- Automatic PPE report, which saves on manual post-processing time.
- The efficiency of internal processes: Through more efficient communication within the team, third parties, and management, as well as faster incident reporting, problems are resolved up to 4x faster.
- Save time by simplifying the analysis of all data and identifying areas requiring special attention more quickly.
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