Personal Protective Equipment at Work
So, what does it cover? PPE is defined in the Regulations as 'all equipment (including clothing affording protection against the weather) which is intended to be worn or held by a person at work and which protects him against one or more risks to his health or safety', e.g. safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses.
Ear protectors and breathing protective equipment are not covered by these PPE Regulations but do have their own regulations so don't ignore them just because they are not on the PPE list. Hearing and respiratory equipment must be compatible with the PPE that you do use e.g. hard hats must be able to accommodate the ear protectors that you use without compromising the protection that either item offers.
The main requirement of the PPE at Work Regulations 1992 is that personal protective equipment is to be supplied and used at work wherever there are risks to health and safety that cannot be adequately controlled in other ways. The PPE at Work Regulations also require that PPE goes through a thorough assessment process to ensure it is fit for purpose, maintenance and storage process is in place, safe usage information is provided where necessary and correct usage is monitored.
When choosing the PPE that is right for your workplace, consider the hazards that your business processes could potentially present. This will enable you to assess which types of PPE are suitable to protect against the hazard and for the job to be done. Don't be afraid to seek advice from your supplier. They know from experience which products work best in which scenarios. In some obscure circumstances it may be necessary to seek advice further afield. The British Safety Industry Federation could be a useful ally in this instance..
The following is a list of considerations when selecting Personal Protective Equipment:
Can the equipment be adjusted to fit the wearer correctly?
Has the employees state of health been taken into account?
If the task requires more than one piece of PPE make sure they are compatible? For example, respirators and eye protection both need to fit snugly without interfering with each other.
Is the item of equipment suitable for the task? Eye goggles which protect against airborne hazards such as chemicals in agricultural spraying may be totally unsuitable as protection against flying pieces of metal in an engineering environment. Does the personal protective equipment do it's job without increasing the risk?
Have the physical demands of the job been taken into consideration? If the job requires a respirator will the physical effort of wearing one take it's toll on the employee?
Should time limitations be in place?
There is a lot to consider but first and foremost you have to look after your employees from a health and safety point of view. Cutting corners can have catastrophic consequences.
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