As we know that PPE is used to reduce or minimize the exposure to risk which could be from physical, chemical, ergonomic, or biological agents; so if we are asked “When Should PPE Be Used in the Workplace“?
The simple and direct answer is that we need PPE when there is a tendency of exposure to risk of any form.
We are very selective of the words we use – “Tendency“, this word represents likelihood, any chance, etc. What this simply means is this, you do not wait for the exposure to happen before you start looking for PPE; the need for PPE should be determine during your risk assessment.
So let us state our answer in very clear term;
When Should PPE Be Used in the Workplace?
We need PPE when there is a tendency of exposure from physical, chemical, ergonomic, or biological agents, which will help reduce the exposure and further mitigate the associated risk.
Some situations where we need PPE are:
- As a temporary control, until a permanent control is put in place.
- When other controls are not either available, adequate or not feasible as at the time.
- During emergency situation where there is no time for a more permanent control.
Examples of PPEs
Gloves – Gloves protects your hands from germs and physical injury.
Masks – Cover your mouth and nose. Examples includes, surgical mask, respirators, canister, etc.
Eye protection – Includes face shields, eye goggles, etc.
Protective Clothing – Includes coveralls, gowns, aprons, head coverings and shoe covers.
Personal Protective Equipment List
- Hearing protection
- Hard hat
- Eye protection
- Face shield
- Steel-toe boot
- Dust mask
- Safety harness
- Fire extinguisher
- Welding helmet
- Full Face Mask
- Welding goggles or a shield
- Face and eye protection
- Safety Glasses and Goggles
- Safety Masks
Why is PPE Important in the Workplace
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the work place are important for several reasons, we will highlight some of the reasons here:
- It Offers Protection From Hazards: PPE is designed to protect workers from various workplace hazards, such as physical, chemical, biological, and ergonomic risks. This includes protection from injuries, exposure to harmful substances, and other occupational risks.
2. For Legal and Regulatory Compliance: Many countries have laws and regulations that require employers to provide and ensure the use of PPE when necessary. Failing to comply with these regulations can result in legal consequences and fines.
3. To Prevent Injuries and Illnesses: PPE helps prevent workplace injuries and illnesses by providing a barrier between workers and potential hazards. This can reduce the likelihood of accidents and illnesses, improving workplace safety and reducing worker compensation claims.
4. Reducing Health Care Costs As It Prevent Injuries: By preventing workplace injuries and illnesses, PPE can help reduce healthcare costs for both employees and employers. This includes medical expenses, insurance premiums, and other related costs.
5. Maintains Steady Productivity: When employees are protected by PPE, they are less likely to suffer injuries or illnesses that could lead to time off work. This helps maintain productivity by ensuring that the workforce is healthy and available for work.
6. Enhances Employee Morale: Knowing that their safety is a priority, employees are more likely to feel valued and motivated in their work. This can improve morale, job satisfaction, and employee retention.
7. Protects Against Contagious Diseases: In certain industries, such as healthcare or food service, PPE like gloves, masks, and gowns is crucial for preventing the spread of infectious diseases among employees and customers.
8. Offer Specialized Protection: PPE can be tailored to specific workplace hazards. For example, construction workers may need hard hats and steel-toed boots for protection against falling objects and crushing hazards, while laboratory workers may require lab coats and safety goggles to prevent chemical exposure.
9. Aid In Emergency Preparedness: PPE is essential during emergency situations, such as fires, chemical spills, or natural disasters. It can provide immediate protection to workers until they can safely evacuate or address the emergency.
10. Promote Good Safety Culture: Encouraging the use of PPE in the workplace fosters a culture of safety. When employees see that their employers prioritize safety, they are more likely to take safety precautions seriously.
READ: What Is Risk Appetite?
PPE is important in the workplace as it helps protect workers from a wide range of hazards, ensures compliance with legal requirements, reduces injuries and illnesses, and contributes to a safer and more productive work environment.