Choosing the Right PPE for the Job

If you are the manager or owner of a factory, plant or construction company, the chances are that your employees handle heavy machinery or hazardous substances such as asbestos on a daily basis. This means that they will need to wear personal protective equipment in order to protect themselves from harm. Personal protective equipment refers to any equipment that is worn by a worker in order to minimise their risk of hazards, including goggles, foot protection, gloves, aprons, respirators and even full body suits.

Personal Protective Equipment – The Last Level of Protection

Of course, personal protective equipment doesn’t reduce the hazard itself and it doesn’t guarantee total protection. This is why it should be considered the last level of protection after all other methods are not available or possible. The first approach should be to remove the hazard or control it adequately – but if this is not possible then personal protective equipment should be used (and should be provided to employees free of charge). However, just having any type of PPE in your workplace won’t do the job – you need to have the right PPE for the type of work you are doing so that you can ensure that it will be effective. Using the wrong personal protective equipment can be just as dangerous as having no protective equipment at all. This can be difficult to choose, as there are so many options out there on the market.

Tips for Choosing the Right Personal Protective Equipment

How do you know which type of personal protective equipment you should choose for your employees? Here are some tips to keep in mind when you are choosing the PPE for your employees:
  • Get to know what the hazards are in your workplace. Conduct a risk assessment so that you know exactly what kind of issues you are up against and what health and safety risks your workers face.
  • Based on your risk assessment, think about what type of injuries and accidents could potentially occur in your workplace. It’s a grim thing to imagine, but it is important when it comes to preventing the worst case scenario.
  • Once you have determined the potential risks, you can figure out what personal protective equipment your employees need to wear so that these injuries and accidents don’t happen.
  • The next step is to choose the equipment appropriate for the risk you have identified. Not all personal protective equipment is the same – for example a pair of goggles might protect against chemicals but wouldn’t protect the eyes from an impact.
  • Choose comfortable protective wear. If your PPE is incredibly uncomfortable to wear, your employees will be tempted to take it off and go without, missing out on the safety benefits.
  • Make sure that the personal protective equipment allows for dexterity and doesn’t restrict movement or vision – or it might even make it more likely for the employee to have an accident.
  • Ensure that your PPE will fit every employee. Good PPE is adjustable, so that it can be securely fitted to everyone who wears it.
  • Check to make sure that each piece of equipment works together with the rest. For example, does the respirator mask make it impossible to also wear the goggles?
  • Choose personal protective equipment that is good quality and is made well. This is the health and safety of your employees, so don’t go for the cheapest low quality goods!
Last but not least, ask your employees for feedback on the equipment. Does it work well? Is it comfortable? Take into consideration their comments, so that you can make sure everyone is protected and safe in the workplace.

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