It is clear that certain work environments pose hazards that require special protective gear
to assure the well being of workers. Construction workers are one obvious example. Hard hats are needed to protect people from debris falling from above and steel toed safety boots are required so that there is less risk of foot injury resulting from dropped heavy equipment. In professions where there is regular exposure to hazardous chemicals, special gloves, goggles, and respirators may be necessary. Obviously, firefighters need suits that will protect them from extreme temperatures and air tanks that allow them to breathe in smoky environments. Regardless of the specifics, the point is that special jobs require special safety gear.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established regulations regarding the personal protective equipment (PPE) responsibilities employers are required to meet. First of all, employers must analyze the work environment and determine if special safety equipment is necessary and, if it is, they must require workers to use it. This includes special training that teaches workers how to properly use, maintain, and adjust PPE. The must also teach employees to recognize when and what kind of equipment is necessary, and to know the limitations of safety gear. All of the protection equipment in the world will not protect workers who are not educated in the proper procedures for utilizing it.
While PPE is necessary in many workplaces, it should serve as a last line of defense. Employers should properly train their employees to act safely and avoid situations where safety gear is put to the test. Aside from training, scheduling, shift rotation, regular machinery maintenance, and a variety of other strategies can make sure that workers are not put in dangerous situations in the first place.
Even though employers have a legal responsibility to provide their employees with personal protective equipment when the workplace warrants it, workers must first and foremost watch out for their own safety. If you believe your employer may be neglecting their responsibility to protect their work force, report the issue to OSHA. If you have been injured due to this negligence, you may want to consider filing a lawsuit to attempt to receive compensation. An experienced legal professional can help you determine if this is a legitimate option to explore in your situation.
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