July 22, 2022 admin
Selection of Appropriate PPE
What is (PPE) personal protective equipment?
PPE is protective equipment worn by workers to reduce their exposure to specific hazards. PPE includes respirators, gloves, aprons, fall protection, full body suits, and head, eye, and foot protection. Using personal protective equipment (PPE) is only one component of a comprehensive hazard control programme that would employ a variety of strategies to maintain a safe and healthy environment. PPE does not eliminate the hazard, nor does it provide permanent or total protection.
What role does personal protective equipment (PPE) play?
Every workplace has hazards, so strategies to protect workers are essential. Priority should be given to following the “hierarchy of control,” which includes hazard elimination, substitution, or engineering control(s) at the source or along the path between the source and the worker. Many methods are available, and the ones that are most appropriate for the situation should be used
Controls are typically placed as follows:
• At the source (where the danger “occurs”)
• Along the path (the hazard’s “travel”)
• At the employee
Controlling a hazard at its source is the preferred method because it will either eliminate it from the workplace entirely or isolate it from the worker. This approach may necessitate the replacement of hazardous materials with non-hazardous ones, the isolation of hazards, ventilation, the addition of safety features to existing equipment, the redesign of work processes, or the purchase of new equipment. Hazards can also be controlled through administrative controls such as work practises, education/training, and housekeeping.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) may be used when the hazard cannot be adequately removed or controlled. When all other methods of protection are unavailable or impractical, personal protective equipment (PPE) is considered the last line of defence. For more information on hazard control programmes, see the OSH Answers document Hazard Control.
How do individuals begin developing a defence strategy?
Before deciding to start or expand a PPE programme, it is critical to understand the underlying principles of protection strategies. The following are the most important factors to consider:
• worker protection
• observance of applicable laws, regulations, standards, and guidelines
• adherence to internal company requirements
• Technological viability
A good comprehensive strategy considers the hazards, conducts a risk assessment, evaluates all possible control methods, integrates various approaches, and frequently re-examines the controls to ensure that the hazard is still controlled.
When should personal protective equipment (PPE) be used?
PPE is used to prevent or reduce exposure to harmful physical, chemical, ergonomic, or biological agents. Remember that using PPE does not eliminate a hazard, but it does reduce the risk of injury. Wearing hearing protection, for example, reduces the risk of hearing damage when the ear plugs or muffs are appropriate for the type of noise exposure and the PPE is used correctly. Using hearing protection, however, does not eliminate the noise.
Only the following PPE should be worn:
• as a stopgap (temporary) measure before controls are implemented;
• where other controls are insufficient or unavailable;
• during activities such as maintenance, clean-up, and repair where pre-contact controls are not feasible or effective;
• during an emergency
What does the law say about who pays for personal protective equipment?
Workers are required by law to use personal protective equipment in the workplace when it is required. Employer responsibilities include instructing workers on what PPE is required, maintaining and cleaning the equipment, and educating and training workers on proper PPE use. Every jurisdiction clearly states that the employer is responsible for ensuring that these requirements are met.
However, the law does not always make it clear who is responsible for paying for the PPE. It is determined by the jurisdiction, and in some jurisdictions, the type of PPE required. As an example:
• In the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Quebec, and Saskatchewan, the employer is required to provide the worker with all PPE recommended by the health and safety committee or required by law.
• In their legislation, British Columbia, Manitoba, and Yukon state who is responsible for each type of PPE.
• Alberta requires employers to provide and pay for personal protective equipment (PPE) for emergency response, hearing, and respiratory protection if it is required for the job. If PPE such as hard hats, safety boots, flame resistant clothing, or eye protection is required for the job, the worker is responsible for providing and using it.
• The term “provide” is used in Ontario, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and organisations that follow Canadian federal government legislation. However, the term “provide” is not always defined clearly, and its intent should be confirmed with jurisdiction.
How does one go about putting together a PPE programme?
A comprehensive PPE programme is required. It necessitates commitment and active participation from all levels, including senior management, supervisors, and workers, during the planning, development, and implementation stages.
A good PPE programme must include the following components:
• hazard identification and risk assessment -choice of appropriate controls
• choice of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)
• education and training
• management support
• the program’s auditing
The occupational health and safety policy of the organisation should be a statement of principles and general rules that serve as guidelines for action. Senior management must commit to seeing that the policy and procedures are followed. PPE programmes must be equal in importance to all other organisational policies, procedures, and programmes.
The appointment of a programme coordinator will aid in the success of the programme. The coordinator is responsible for ensuring that all programme elements are in place and operational.
A programme must be carefully planned, fully developed, and methodically implemented. The program’s positive effects should be widely publicised, and the compliance deadline should be set far in advance. If the use of PPE is new, workers should be given time to find the best fit, become accustomed to wearing PPE, and comply with the programme, with no enforcement action taken until the target date.
It is not acceptable to gradually phase in a PPE programme when entering hazardous environments is required, or when failure to use the equipment poses a significant risk of injury.
The greater the workers’ participation in all stages of the programme, the easier it will be to implement and operate. Users must be educated on why PPE is required and trained on how to use it properly. The method of implementation has an impact on the program’s acceptance and effectiveness.
Furthermore, if a PPE device is unattractive, uncomfortable, or is imposed on the worker with little choice in the selection, worker compliance with the PPE programme is likely to be low. Where possible, provide some flexibility in terms of different models or makes of the required PPE (while maintaining appropriate protection).
If workers remove their PPE for even brief periods of time, the level of protection provided is significantly reduced. The loss of protection when the PPE is not worn may easily outweigh the protection when it is worn.
Why should hazards be identified and risk assessments be performed first?
The first step in developing a PPE programme is identifying the hazards on the jobsite. Workplace practises, processes, job procedures, equipment, products, workplace layout, and individual factors should all be investigated. Particular attention should be paid to job requirements, as some hazards necessitate the use of more than one piece of PPE. Working with chlorine, for example, may necessitate respiratory, skin, and eye protection, as chlorine irritates both the respiratory system and the mucous membranes of the eyes. It is critical to review Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) on a regular basis because they identify the hazards associated with specific products and make PPE recommendations.
What steps are involved in choosing PPE?
Once the need for PPE has been determined, the next step is to choose the appropriate type. Two criteria must be established: the level of protection required, as well as the equipment’s suitability for the situation (including the practicality of the equipment being used and kept in good repair). Because both the degree of protection and the design of PPE affect its overall efficiency, wearability, and acceptance, they must be integrated.
The following are some selection criteria:
a) Align PPE with the hazard:
There are no shortcuts when it comes to PPE selection. Select the appropriate PPE for the hazard. Because the same task is performed on some jobs throughout the entire job cycle, selecting appropriate PPE is simple. In other cases, workers may be exposed to two or more hazards. Welders may need to be protected from welding gases, harmful light rays, molten metal, and flying chips. Multiple layers of protection are required in such cases, including a welding helmet, welder’s goggles, and the appropriate respirator, or an air-supplied welding hood.
b) Seek advice:
Make decisions based on a thorough risk assessment, worker acceptance, and the types of PPE available. Once the PPE requirements have been determined, conduct some research and comparison shopping. Request recommendations from trained sales representatives after discussing one’s needs. Always ask for alternatives and look into product claims and test data. Try on and test PPE before approving it to ensure that it meets all requirements.
c) Involve employees in evaluations:
It is critical to involve the individual worker in the selection of specific models. This selection assistance can be obtained by introducing approved models into the workplace for trials in which workers can evaluate various models. Much information about fit, comfort, and worker acceptability will be obtained in this manner. Workers should choose PPE from two or three models, allowing for personal preferences. PPE should be assigned on an individual basis.
d) Take into account the physical comfort of PPE (ergonomics):
It is unlikely that a PPE device will be worn if it is overly heavy or poorly fitted. Also, if a PPE device is unattractive or uncomfortable, or if workers cannot choose between models, compliance is likely to be low. When wearing multiple types of PPE, interactions must be considered (e.g., will wearing eyewear interfere with the seal provided by ear muffs?). Use every opportunity to provide flexibility in the selection of PPE as long as it complies with applicable legislation and standards.
e) Consider cost factors:
The cost of personal protective equipment (PPE) is frequently an issue. Because disposable respirators appear to be inexpensive, they are used in some programmes. However, if the use is evaluated over time, a dual cartridge respirator may be more cost effective. Engineering controls may prove to be a more cost-effective long-term solution and should be considered before PPE.
f) Examine standards:
All standard performance requirements must be reviewed to ensure that exposure to injury is minimised or eliminated by using PPE. PPE will not provide adequate protection if it is subjected to hazards that are greater than those for which it was designed.
Various standards exist in Canada, and the most recent should be used as a guide in the selection process. The CSA Standard Z94.3-15 “Eye and Face Protectors,” for example, specifies the types of eye wear protectors that are recommended for specific work hazards. More information on this topic can be found in the OSH Answers on eye and face protection.
g) Examine the fit:
After making a decision, the “fitting” component should be installed. The key is to provide PPE to each worker on an individual basis. Show each worker how to properly wear and maintain PPE during the fitting process. Individual fitting programmes should be carried out by qualified personnel in some cases. For eye protection, this qualified individual could be an optometrist, an optician, a manufacturer’s representative, or a specially trained staff member, such as a nurse.
Eyewear should cover the area between the brow and the cheekbone, as well as the area between the nose and the boney area on the outside of the face and eyes. When eyewear/glasses are worn halfway down the nose, protection from flying particles is reduced, sometimes to the point of being non-existent. In practise, the calculated degree of protection will not be realised unless the PPE is worn properly at all times when the worker is at risk.
h) Conduct routine maintenance and inspections:
The effectiveness of PPE cannot be guaranteed without proper maintenance. Inspection, care, cleaning, repair, and proper storage should all be included in maintenance.
The need for continuous inspection of PPE is probably the most important aspect of maintenance. Inspections, if done correctly, will detect damaged or malfunctioning PPE before it is used. PPE that does not meet manufacturer specifications, such as eyewear with scratched lenses that has lost its ability to withstand impact, should be discarded.
Procedures should be established to allow workers to obtain new PPE or replacement parts for damaged PPE, as well as to assist them in keeping the PPE clean. Respiratory protection devices, for example, necessitate a programme of repair, cleaning, storage, and periodic testing.
Wearing ill-maintained or malfunctioning PPE may be more dangerous than wearing no protection at all. Workers have a false sense of security and believe they are safe when, in fact, they are not.
I) Provide education and training:
No programme is complete without education and training to ensure that PPE is used properly. Why it is important, how to fit and wear PPE, how to adjust it for maximum protection, and how to care for it should all be covered in education and training. Emphasize the program’s main goals and emphasise the fact that engineering controls are the primary prevention strategy. It is not sufficient to instruct someone to wear a respirator simply because management and/or legislation require it. If the respirator is meant to prevent lung disorders, the workers must be made aware of the risks.
To achieve the necessary level of protection, workers and their supervisors will need education and training on when, where, why, and how to use the equipment. Include workers who are exposed on a regular basis as well as those who may be exposed on an irregular basis, such as during emergencies or temporary work in hazardous areas.
j) Obtain approval from all departments:
Once the programme is up and running, management, safety and medical personnel, supervisors, the health and safety committee, individual workers, and even the suppliers of the chosen PPE will all need to be involved. Education and training programmes should be maintained on an ongoing basis.
k) Examine the programme:
The effectiveness of the PPE programme, like any other programme or procedure implemented in an organisation, should be monitored through inspection of equipment and auditing of procedures.
Although annual audits are common, it may be necessary to review critical areas more frequently. It would be useful to compare the safety performance to data collected prior to the start of the programme. This comparison would aid in determining a program’s success or failure.
How can we get the word out about the PPE programme?
A careful promotional strategy supports the overall goal of a safer workplace.
This strategy is centred on:
• management and employee commitment to the programme, as well as a sense of responsibility for it
• the program’s motivations; and
• how the programme will operate.
The success of the PPE programme is dependent on everyone’s cooperation and support. Controls at the source and along the path are also more likely to be addressed comprehensively and effectively, increasing the likelihood of success.
Why are there so many precautions regarding the use of PPE?
PPE programmes are frequently plagued by the misconception that once a piece of equipment is on, the worker is completely protected. This is a delusion of security. Housekeeping and engineering controls are basic safety principles that must not be overlooked.
PPE is intended to meet criteria that are only a rough approximation of actual working conditions. When the hazards are greater than those for which the PPE is designed, it should not be used. When it comes to assessing potential hazards, uncertainties must be considered. Unfortunately, PPE design criteria cannot account for all possible scenarios.
Wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) should not increase the risk. Gloves, for example, protect the skin when working with moving equipment but can create an entanglement hazard when using a drill press or metal lathe.
Most regulatory agencies require that PPE not be used unless the employer has taken all necessary measures to control the hazard in terms of engineering controls, work practises, administrative controls, and hygiene.
PPE cannot be the first line of defence in an occupational health and safety programme because the goal is to prevent occupational injury and illness. The use of personal protective equipment (PPE) does not prevent an incident from occurring. It does not remove the risk. It only minimizes the exposure or may reduce the severity of injury or illness. For these reasons, personal protective equipment (PPE) is frequently referred to as “the last line of defence.”
What does a PPE programme checklist look like?
The following factors should be considered by the PPE programme coordinator:
1) Create a PPE Program:
• Make certain that the “hierarchy of controls” methods, such as elimination, substitution, engineering controls, and administrative controls, are prioritised. PPE serves as the last line of defence.
• Ensure that all parties participate actively.
• Ascertain that a programme coordinator has been designated.
• Ongoing programme evaluation is required
2) Strategy for Promotion:
• Make public commitment to the programme.
• Ascertain that a clear, concise company policy has been developed.
3) Identification of hazards and risk assessment:
• Examine work practises, job procedures, equipment, and the layout of the plant.
• Integrate accepted safety and health principles and practises into specific operations using job hazard analysis techniques.
• Select PPE that is appropriate for the hazard.
• Seek advice on the best option.
• When possible, conduct a workplace trial.
• Take into account the physical comfort of PPE.
• Cost considerations for PPE usage should be evaluated.
• Ensure that PPE meets standards and is certified (e.g., CSA, CGSB, NIOSH, ANSI).
5) Wearing and fitting:
• Fitting PPE to the individual is included.
• Observe or poll users to ensure that PPE is worn and worn correctly.
• Assure that workers understand how to maintain and inspect their personal protective equipment on a regular basis.
• Ensure that workers can identify potential problems or defects in their personal protective equipment (PPE) during the pre-use inspection or while wearing/using it.
7) Examine the Program:
• At least once a year, the programme should be reviewed.
• Examine and compare records of production and safety performance.