Keep em safe
Jan 1, 2006 12:00 PM
PROVIDING appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to shield employees from hazards is a key element in employee safety in the workplace, said Michael Callan of Callan and Co.
“It's all about preparedness,” Callan said. “PPE gets right down to the bottom line in safety.”
He discussed PPE assessment at the National Association of Chemical Distributors Operations Seminar and Trade Show September 14-16 in San Jose, California.
However, providing PPE does not replace efforts to reduce or remove hazards so that the equipment is not necessary. “PPE should not be used as a substitute for engineering controls and work practices,” he said.
When the use of protective equipment is required, it should provide a barrier against workplace hazards, as well as prevent over exposure to a hazard, take-home contamination, and exposure to others.
In addition to supplying the protective equipment, employers must establish a PPE program that sets out procedures for selecting, providing, and using it. Planning should include input from the employees who will be using the equipment, especially incident responders.
“The use of PPE should be a part of an employer's routine operation,” Callan said. “Assess the workplace to determine if hazards are present, or are likely to be present, which necessitates the use of PPE. Once the proper PPE has been selected, employers must provide training for each employee required to use it. Inform employees why the equipment is necessary and when it must be worn.”
As part of the training, employees should gain an understanding of the limitations of the equipment to avoid misuse that might put them in greater danger. Devices must be tailored for likely hazards on the job, and employees must learn how to recognize PPE deterioration and failure.
“There will be times when the protective equipment will fail, so you can't push it too far,” he said.
Additional training is required for each hazard level of the equipment that is used. Training should include PPE use and care, as well as how to properly inspect the equipment for wear or damage.
Although training is paramount, employees must develop a personal awareness of PPE importance. “They need to believe in safety,” he added.
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