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February 26, 2019

PPE: Why it’s important. What you can do.

Shane Collins

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is commonly used throughout all industries. The objective of PPE is to protect employees from injury through its use. It can include items such as safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses.

Personal Protection is just one control that employers can use to help protect their employees from hazards. Consider using hazard elimination, substitution, engineering and administrative controls before introducing PPE. If the hazard cannot be eliminated or controlled, the employer will have to indicate what type of PPE will be required to protect the employees.

Getting started

Conduct an assessment
A PPE hazard assessment is a process that can be used to help identify the need for PPE for various job tasks.  Ideally every single job task should have a PPE hazard assessment conducted, documented and issued to the employees.  Keep in mind that for higher risk level job tasks, more than one type of PPE may be required.

Use the Hazard Assessment Survey and Analysis Tool to walk you through the process. Be sure to complete the assessment tool in its entirety.  The assessment  is broken down into various parts of the body from the hands, eyes and face, respiratory system, feet, head, and the body overall. Every single part of the body should be assessed no matter how simple the job task is.  Once the hazards have been identified for each part of the body, note the required PPE that is going to best protect the employee for that particular hazard.

Select the appropriate PPE
In many states, employers are not required to have a PPE program, but having one is a good idea.

Selecting the appropriate PPE can be tricky. Begin with the following criteria:

  • PPE must protect against the specific hazard encountered in the workplace.

  • PPE must be reasonably comfortable.

  • PPE must not restrict the senses, movement or ability to work safely.

  • PPE must be durable and easy to clean and disinfect.

  • PPE must not interfere with the function of other required PPE.

Train employees
Having the appropriate PPE is not enough. You must train your employees on its use, adjust and maintain it in order to make sure the person protective equipment is indeed protecting your employees.

Finally, ensure that your employees know the importance of wearing the PPE issued to them. Reinforce with your employees that you value them and that their safety and well-being is your first priority. Ask your employees to encourage each other to wear appropriate PPE and continue to foster a positive safety cultural.

For assistance with a workplace or PPE assessment, contact your local Marsh & McLennan Safety consultant.