Research shows that one-third of all accidents where protection equipment would have prevented or reduced the severity of an injury, personal protective equipment was either not provided, provided but not used or was of incorrect type. In any of these situations, the employer is exposed to both criminal and civil actions and is likely to be found negligent.
Using the right personal protective equipment at work is not just common sense, it is the law. In Great Britain, the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 requires employer to ensure suitable personal protective equipment is provided to employees who may be exposed to a risk to their health and safety at work. In the United States, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 29 CFR 1910.132 outlines the general requirements for the provisions and use of personal protective equipment at work.
What is a PPE?
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is an equipment or apparatus work by the worker to minimize exposure to serious workplace injuries and illnesses. These injuries or illnesses maybe a result from contact with chemical, electrical, physical, mechanical and other workplace hazards. A few examples of personal protective equipment used in the workplace are gloves, safety glasses, shoes, earplugs or earmuffs, hard hats, respirators vest and full body suits.
When to use PPE?
When engineering controls, safe work practices, and administrative controls are not feasible or do not provide sufficient protection, employers must provide personal protective equipment to their workers. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is one of the least effective ways of controlling risks to health and safety and should only be used:
- When there are no other practical hazard control measures available (as a last resort).
- As an interim measure until a more effective way of controlling the risk can be used.
- To supplement higher level control measures (as a back-up).