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The PPE Bible: A Complete Guide to Personal Protective Equipment

by Matt on February 23, 2017

Comments (3)


Whenever you step onto a worksite, your most essential goal may not cross your mind: Safely returning home.

There are many ways to stay safe, but one of the most important is using personal protective equipment (PPE). The goal of this guide is to outline everything you and your workers need to know. This includes:

  1. Regulations
  2. Creating a PPE Program
  3. How to Select PPE
  4. Hi-Visibility PPE
  5. Maintaining, Washing and Inspecting PPE
  6. 15 Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQs) about PPE from Workers

You will also find links for a downloadable checklist throughout the guide, which you can use to help choose and use the right pieces of PPE.

 

Choose the right PPE for your worksite by downloading your free checklist:
download button

personal protective equipment standards & regulations

 

Personal Protective Equipment Regulations:

Before creating a PPE program, you must be aware of – and understand – the regulations that apply to you.

Country-Specific Regulations:

If your business is based in the United States or operating in the country, you must adhere to regulations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
The government body addresses how to use PPE in its standards for:

If your business is based in Canada or operating in the country, you must follow the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations.

There are industry- and province-specific standards that are based on these Canadian federal regulations. For example, Ontario has distinct PPE regulations for farming, partly based on its provincial health and safety act.

Because of these differences, it is best for Canadian employers to:

  • Study relevant sections of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations
  • Look for province- and industry-specific regulations, if applicable
  • Consult a legal professional for advice, concerns and questions

Canadian and US standards also stress the employer’s responsibility to give relevant training to each worker who will use PPE. This training should cover when to wear specific types of PPE, how to properly use it, and what the limitations are.

Equipment-Specific Standards:

In sections that discuss equipment, both American and Canadian documentation frequently refers to guidelines developed by CSA Group and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

These organizations have regulations that encompass PPE such as:

  • Gloves – Different kinds of gloves call for different requirements. However, ANSI standards are used across North America. ANSI rates cut resistance on a nine-level scale. Level 1 gloves take a minimum of 200 grams-force to be cut, whereas Level 9 gloves take at least 6,000 grams-force. ANSI uses a five-level scale for puncture resistance. Puncturing a glove with the highest ANSI rating would take at least 150 Newtons of force. ANSI measures abrasion resistance on a six-level scale. A Level 1 glove, tested at 500 grams of force, takes 100 revolutions from two vertically-oriented wheels to abrade. A Level 6 glove, tested at 1,000 grams of force, takes up to 20,000 revolutions.
  • Eyewear CSA Standard Z94.3-07 details the use and care of protective eyewear, defining six classes. They are: spectacles, goggles, welding helmets, welding shields, non-rigid hoods and face shields. Each class protects against different risks. For example, welding helmets and shields are the only ones that resist injurious optical radiation from many forms of cutting and welding. Spectacles and goggles, on the other hand, typically only protect against small flying objects.
  • Footwear CSA Standard Z195-14 covers the use and selection of protective footwear. Instead of classifying footwear on a scale, CSA Group categorizes them based on hazards against which they protect. The hazards are: chainsaws, electric shock, electrical conductivity, metatarsal impact, sole puncture, static discharge and toe impact.
  • Headgear CSA Standard Z94.1-15 explains regulations for headwear use and performance, dividing equipment into two types and three classes. The first type protects against impact and penetration on the top of the head. The second type offers the same protection, also defending the back and sides of the head. Each type comes in either Class E (20,000 volt electrical rating), G (2,200 volt electrical rating) or C (no electrical rating).

Armed with an understanding of the regulations you must follow, you can begin the formal creation of your PPE program.

 

Choose the right PPE for your worksite by downloading your free checklist:
download button

creating a personal protective equipment program

 

Creating a PPE Program:

There are steps and processes you must conduct to successfully follow applicable regulations, establishing a PPE program that is cost-effective and reduces risk of injury.

To develop your PPE program, managers, supervisors and employees should work together to conduct the following processes:

 

1. Surveying the Workplace:

Conducting a workplace safety survey is an exercise in finding risks and hazards, allowing you to set controls and choose appropriate PPE.

Your team of managers, supervisors and workers must:

  • Inspect the site Look for physical dangers across your worksite, such as exposed wires and obstructed paths or areas. If the site is indoors, ensure you have fire extinguishers around the facility and clearly-marked emergency exits. If the site is outdoors, ensure there is signage to alert pedestrians of danger.
  • Examine materials List materials that employees interact with or are exposed to, helping you pinpoint threats and how to mitigate them. For example, chemicals may call for the use of respirators.
  • Observe employees Take time to see how employees work, ensuring they aren’t doing anything that could lead to injury. For example, using improper technique when handling tools.
  • Talk to employees Ask them questions to see how safe they feel on a daily basis. Note specific concerns and pose follow-up questions to determine exactly why they feel at risk.

Based on the survey’s results and insights, you’ll be able to complete the next steps in creating a PPE program.

 

2. Selecting Appropriate Controls:

Introduce a pre-contact or point-of-contact control for each hazard you identify.

The goal of a pre-contact control is to stop workers from reaching the hazard, and vice-versa.

This can involve eliminating the hazard in question. You can do this by, for example, replacing old machinery or finding an alternative way to complete a task. You can also contain the hazard with machine guards or through isolation methods. Alerting employees of danger by introducing new signage is another obligation.

The goal of a point-of-contact control is to prevent or mitigate damage from the hazard when a worker makes contact with it.

Because point-of-contact controls don’t eliminate the hazard, you should only introduce them when pre-contact controls aren’t adequate. Or, you simply desire an additional safety measure.

PPE is the standard point-of-contact control. 

 

3. Selecting Appropriate PPE:

The PPE that you select must protect against the workplace risks and hazards you identified, acting as either a last resort, back-up measure or temporary policy to prevent injuries.

Let’s say you identified the possibility of debris falling onto workers.

Wearing hardhats can act as a last resort of protection if you can’t prevent debris from falling. If you’ve implemented an effective control measure or are doing so, wearing hardhats can act as a back-up or temporary measure.

This guide covers, in-depth, how to select PPE for such purposes in the next section.

 

4. Fitting:

You can also learn more about fitting in the next section of this guide.

Keep in mind, the effectiveness of most equipment partially depends on how it fits the worker. For example, if leg protectors are too long, they can hinder wearer mobility. And if protective boots are too small, workers may forgo wearing them.

This is why you must take each worker’s measurements, cross-referencing numbers with the sizing charts you can receive from PPE manufacturers.

 

5. Training:

Training is a crucial part in formalizing any PPE program. After all, workers and their supervisors must learn how to protect themselves and use their new equipment.

Tailored to the specific risks and equipment, training must cover:

  • What PPE is for Employees shouldn’t just see PPE as manager-mandated accessories. Or else, they may not understand the point of using them. Explain the specific function that each piece serves, indicating the workplace hazards it protects against.
  • How and when to wear PPE It’s usually not enough to talk about using PPE. Instead, demonstrate how to use each piece in different scenarios. Then, get workers to put pieces on, allowing them to see how they should fit.
  • How to spot problems To prevent workers from using ineffective PPE, tell them how to spot deficiencies. For example, helmets with cracks have to be fixed or replaced.

Whether you run training sessions for groups or individuals, make sure new and veteran employees are up-to-date on your worksite’s policies and equipment.

 

6. Program Audits:

Many worksites run annual audits of their PPE and general safety programs, but you may wish to review especially dangerous or important aspects more frequently.

Typically, audits involve inspecting PPE and monitoring workers to make sure they’re following procedures. You should also review procedures themselves, spotting opportunities to introduce hazard controls or provide additional equipment.

 
To analyze your program’s effectiveness, measure safety-related figures. You can do this by tracking near-accidents, injuries and the severity of these injuries.

See if these numbers are shrinking each year. If not, you may have to introduce program changes.

 

Provide the best PPE through your safety program by downloading this checklist:
download button

 
select ppe

 

How to Select PPE:

Finding and distributing PPE puts your program into action.

Brands and makes of PPE vary in terms of use, purpose and effectiveness in different scenarios. Despite these nuances, you should consider a general set of questions and item-specific qualities during the selection process.

 

Three Questions to Consider:

 

1. How long should each piece of PPE last?

Unfortunately, due to variation among equipment types and how heavily they’re used across worksites, there isn’t a consistent answer to this question.

First, look into the manufacturer’s warranty and other information sources. Many manufacturers will offer a warranty period of at least one year, covering any sort of product failure. Their products may also include information tags, detailing life expectancy. For example, most hard hats come with these tags, stating the product lasts between three and five years.

Second, talk to colleagues who have used the kind of PPE you need. Word-of-mouth can lead you towards trusted brands, helping you find equipment designed to be effective for long periods.

Remember that the longevity of PPE plays a key role in your purchasing decision, ensuring you don’t have to buy equipment at a faster-than-expected rate.

 

2. When do you know it should be replaced?

Take these factors and scenarios into account when deciding if it’s time to replace a piece of PPE:

  • Manufacturer’s Information Generally, manufacturers provide information about how to identify a piece of PPE’s “end of life.” This is typically based on a specific date or maximum service time.
  • Damage When certain pieces of PPE are involved in accidents, they need to be replaced. For example, if a safety helmet’s shell receives an irreparable scratch, you should replace it.
  • Inspection If a piece of PPE does not pass inspection, which will be discussed later in this guide, you must replace it.

 

3. How do you know if a specific piece properly fits?

To ensure employees can comfortably wear equipment, run fitting sessions and use information from PPE manufacturers.

Schedule timeslots for each worker who will wear PPE, taking their measurements and keeping a file with this information. Note any factors that may influence sizing. For example, if an employee wears prescription glasses, protective eyewear should fit over them.

Cross-reference your data with sizing charts, which your manufacturer of choice should provide.

Doing so will allow you to buy or distribute PPE that properly fits workers, effectively mitigating relevant risks.

 

Selection Specifics:

As well as the three above questions, each kind of PPE has qualities you should factor into your purchasing decision.

  • Gloves The results of your job-hazard analysis should heavily inform the types of gloves you purchase. Put simply, there isn’t a single solution to protect workers’ hands from all sorts of injuries. This is because gloves protect against a range of risks, such as abrasion and extreme heat. Furthermore, the level of protection you need may vary. For example, if workers only face light cut hazards, they don’t need ANSI cut Level 9 gloves. To learn more about how to choose appropriate gloves, read our Definitive Guide to Hand Protection.
  •  Eyewear Similar to gloves, different lenses suit different work duties and environments. Polycarbonate is best for scratch and impact resistance, sometimes offering UV radiation protection. CR39 plastic resists solvents and pitting. Trivex offers more impact resistance than CR39 plastic, but less than polycarbonate. The durability of glass eyewear varies and can lose impact resistance when scratched. Finally, you must choose the appropriate class of eyewear. As previously mentioned, these range between six classes – from spectacles to face shields.
  • Footwear Specific hazards will largely determine the protective footwear you choose. Across Canada and the United States, CSA Group tests and certifies footwear with each hazard in mind. As previously mentioned, you can find CSA marks that indicate protection against:
    • Chainsaws
    • Electric shock
    • Electrical conductivity
    • Metatarsal impact
    • Sole puncture
    • Static discharge
    • Toe impact
  • Hardhats CSA standards also cover head protection. As previously mentioned, it divides equipment into two types and three classes based on the part of the head it protects and the level of electrical resistance it provides. These classifications will allow you to find headgear that suits your workplace just look for the CSA mark on the models that interest you.

When selecting PPE, you should have an understanding of this specific information.

To supplement it, it’s never a bad idea to consult manufacturers and your region or country’s occupational health and safety resources.

 

Select the right PPE by downloading this checklist:
download button

 
hi-visibility ppe

 

Hi-Visibility PPE:

Hi-viz safety apparel (HVSA) may also play a role in your PPE program, increasing worker visibility in dark areas.

Other advantages include:

  • Increasing worker visibility in well-lit indoor and outdoor environments, as the colors of HVSA stand out in most settings
  • Mitigating damage in the event of an accident, as some HVSA – such as hardhats – provides physical protection
  • Instilling a greater sense of safety in employees

To reap these advantages, there are specific standards and qualities you should be aware of before purchasing these types of clothing.

 

Standard for Hi-Viz Clothing: ANSI/ISEA 107-2015:

The American National Standards Institute established the American National Standard for Hi-Viz Safety Apparel and Accessories (ANSI/ISEA 107-2015) to protect workers from hazards associated with low-visibility environments.

These hazards are generally the result of people operating vehicles and heavy machinery in low-light conditions. But risks also arise due to poor weather conditions and other factors that obstruct vision.

The standard – in its fourth edition – sets guidelines to help you choose and use HVSA such as:

  • Vests
  • Shirts
  • Coveralls
  • Rainwear
  • Headwear

Note that companies outside the United States may have to comply with another standard. For example, Canadian workers may follow CSA Standard Z96-15.

But, to help ensure compliance in the US, you can purchase a copy of the American standard here.

 

How the Standard is Divided:

New to ANSI/ISEA 107-2015 are three designations for HVSA, making it easier to choose the appropriate gear depending on the work environment.

They are:

  • Type O This is off-road apparel. Type O apparel aims to make wearers easy to spot for those driving vehicles and using machinery.
  •  Type R This is roadway and temporary traffic control apparel. It is also designed to make workers visible for those operating vehicles and mobile machinery. However, this apparel covers more of the worker than Type O apparel.
  • Type P This is public safety apparel. Used by fire, police and emergency medicine personnel, its purpose is to increase the wearer’s visibility in a range of environments. It is made from fluorescent material to accomplish this goal.

Following these categorizations will help you choose the best hi-viz apparel for your employees’ needs.

 

When You Should Use Hi-Viz Clothing:

Hi-viz clothing suits a range of worksites where laborer visibility is an issue.

Specifically, HVSA lends itself to jobs and locations that have:

  • Low light
  • Traffic or other vehicle hazards
  • Heavy, mobile machinery in use
  • Exposure to poor weather conditions
  • Obstructions, such as trees or construction materials
  • Any other conditions that prevents workers from being easily seen by each other or pedestrians

These conditions indicate a need to use HVSA that complies with ANSI/ISEA 107-2015 or another applicable government standard.

 

Differences Between Background and Retroreflective Material:

Hi-viz safety material, as approved by the ANSI/ISEA 105-2017 standard, is made from either background or retroreflective material.

ANSI ISEA 107 Hi Viz

Background material is fluorescent. It can be red, orange-red or yellow-green. The goal of this material is to make workers stand out from their environments. So, if your employees work with red equipment, they shouldn’t wear HVSA made from red background material.

Retroreflective material is not defined by its color. Rather, it reflects and returns light to the direction from which it came. As a result, workers wearing this material have a mirror-like quality to their safety apparel.

It is also possible to find combined-performance material. This is retroreflective material on a fluorescent background.

 

Other Qualities That Make a Product Hi-Viz:

In addition to being made from background or retroreflective material, a product must meet certain criteria to be considered HVSA.

If a piece of apparel uses retroreflective material, it must:

  • Have band widths appropriate for the garment class; for example, a Class 1 garment – such as a T-shirt – must have one-inch bands
  • Ensure 360-degree visibility of the wearer, with horizontal gaps between the bands that aren’t larger than two inches
  • Use at least 23.25 square-inches of retroreflective material in the shoulder area, if the garment does not use retroreflective material to encircle the sleeves

Apparel that uses background or combined-performance material must:

  • Remain the same size after washing and dry-cleaning
  • Meet standardized approval criteria for chromaticity, luminance and brightness without preconditioning
  • Pass tests for colorfastness after being cleaned or exposed to Xenon – a chemical element – through ultraviolet light

These qualities will ensure employees are as visible as possible on the worksite.

 

See which HVSA you need by downloading your free PPE checklist:

download button

 
maintaining, washing, & inspecting personal protective equipment

 

Maintaining, Washing and Inspecting PPE:

After selecting PPE, the longevity and effectiveness of each piece depends on how you inspect and maintain it.

Above all, you must follow a manufacturer’s maintenance schedule and instructions, which typically explain:

  • Testing You must test each piece of PPE to verify its ability to protect employees. For example, hard hats may require both a visual and stress test. If this is the case, you must inspect the equipment for cracks and other signs of damage, as well as strike it with light force to ensure it doesn’t easily damage.
  • Replacement Manufacturers should state the lifespans of their equipment pieces, indicating when you must replace them. However, there are signs that suggest you should replace PPE earlier. Wear and tear are the clearest indications, but you should also keep an ear open for comments from employees. For example, if there are complaints about boots being uncomfortable, it could be a sign of undetected damage.
  • Repair – Although the manufacturer’s guide may include instructions, you should only attempt to repair a given piece of equipment if authorized by the manufacturer to do so.

Washing or laundering each piece of PPE must also play a role in your maintenance program, ensuring longevity and wearer comfort.

Manufacturers should provide distinct cleaning instructions for each kind of PPE. Generally, you’ll follow a simple approach for:

  • Gloves – Different gloves require different cleaning processes, which you can learn more about here. For example, you can toss Kevlar® gloves into a washing machine, using slightly more than two kilograms of commercial laundry soap per 45 kilograms of Kevlar®. Wash them for 20 minutes in hot water, rinsing with cold water and tumble drying for 35 minutes at 70-degrees Celsius.
  • Footwear You can clean soiled footwear using cloth dipped in warm water, gently scrubbing dirty areas. Then, use the remainder of the water to rinse the footwear. Avoid soap or detergents, as they can reduce the water resistance of many materials, such as leather.
  • Eyewear Similar to footwear, you can clean eyewear using cloth and warm water. But you should also use soap to remove dust and dirt that hampers vision. Frequently-worn eyewear, such as safety goggles, may require daily cleaning. Eyewear that doubles as face protection can need complex cleaning regiments. If this is the case, the manufacturer will provide you with the necessary information.
  • Headgear You should clean most types of headgear, such as hardhats, at least once a month. The washing process typically involves soaking the equipment in a solution made from hot water and a small amount of mild soap for 10 minutes. After, rinse the equipment with clean water and let it air dry.
  • Leg protection The process of cleaning leg wear greatly varies depending on equipment type and material. You may need to hand-wash chaps with cloth and warm water, whereas certain kinds of padding can require an hour-long bath in soap and water. Because of this variance, it is best to closely follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

To supplement the maintenance schedule and ensure worker safety, you must inspect each equipment piece as thoroughly and frequently as possible.

This usually takes just a few minutes, varying for each kind of PPE:

  • Gloves – Look for wear and tear, as this sort of damage can compromise a glove’s gripping and protection abilities. For cases in which the damage does not impact protection – such coating wear on cut-resistant gloves – focus on testing the grip. Pick up and try using tools, ensuring they are easy to hold and operate.
  • Footwear Keep an eye out for separation of footwear components, such as the toe cover detaching itself from the rest of the shoe or boot. Similarly, evidence of physical damage or exposure of once-covered areas typically indicates an immediate need for repair or replacement.
  • Eyewear Examine the eyewear for scratches, which can limit vision and lessen protection. Put the eyewear on, ensuring grime also does not impede eyesight. As per the manufacturer’s instructions, a quick stress test may also be in order.
  • Headgear As mentioned above, look for cracks and other signs of damage before performing a light stress test.
  • Leg protection Wearing the equipment yourself, ensure it does not restrict your ability to walk. If it shrinks after cleaning to the point of limiting mobility, you must replace it. And, as always, there shouldn’t be signs of wear and tear.

 
Although you may decide to create a worksite-wide schedule for inspections done by management and supervisors, it is in your best interest to train employees to inspect PPE before each use. This helps ensure damage to equipment does not go undetected.

Keep in mind: A piece is not fit for use if it fails inspection.

You must replace it, either by purchasing new equipment or providing spare equipment on hand.

 

Select the right PPE by downloading this checklist:

download button

 
construction workers wearing PPE

 

15 Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQs) about PPE from Workers:

Below are answers to questions that your employees may ask about PPE, which you may wish to address as part of workplace training.

 

1. What is PPE?

PPE includes anything someone can use or wear to mitigate the threats that workplace hazards pose to health and safety.

Depending on the tasks and environment, workers use PPE such as:

  • Boots
  • Gloves
  • Ear plugs
  • Respirators
  • Safety harnesses
  • Hi-viz clothing
  • Helmets, hardhats and facial protection

The nature and purpose of these equipment pieces vary between jobs and worksites. For example, workers in the oil and gas industry need gloves that protect against crushing and pinching. On the other hand, glass-handling gloves help the wearer properly grip glass to prevent cuts and strains.

Employers typically use PPE as a final measure to protect employees against apparent dangers, whereas hazard-control techniques – such as substituting faulty equipment – are a first-line of defense.

 

2. Do Employers or Employees Pay for PPE?

The answer to this question depends on where you work. Country to country and region to region, it can greatly vary.

In Canada, for example, the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations state that employers must provide PPE to each employee who needs it. But this does not explicitly mean the employer must purchase equipment for each worker.

Furthermore, the regulations do not clarify which pieces of equipment employers must provide. Many construction and factory workers buy their own hardhats and steel toe boots. Equipment that’s not as widely sold is typically given to them.

So, who pays for PPE can depend on equipment-by-equipment and workplace-by-workplace bases.

 

3. What Should I do if I Can’t Afford to Buy PPE?

Generally, this is not an issue you should face.

In the aforementioned Canadian Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, many employers interpret the rule to provide PPE as a requirement to purchase it for workers.

If this is not the case and you cannot afford to buy a certain piece of PPE, discuss the issue with your boss.

In the United States, OSHA mandates that employers must pay for all PPE. This rule has been in effect since 2008, also requiring that employers make sure that any employee-purchased PPE provides adequate protection.

 

4. When Should I Use PPE?

Employees must use PPE as outlined in their workplaces’ guidelines, which should largely follow government protocol.

In this respect, employers should mandate the use of the PPE as a:

  • Last Resort – There are no other control measures to mitigate risks
  • Back-up Measure PPE supplements other, more-effective control measures
  • Temporary Policy An effective control measure is currently being implemented

Most work environments mandate the use of PPE as a back-up measure, protecting employees from danger if other defense mechanisms fail.

However, speak to your employer if you feel the PPE you are required to use is not effective in this sense.

 

5. What Standard of PPE Am I Required to Follow?

The standard of PPE which you must follow depends on where you’re located, as well as company-specific procedures.

Governmental acts and standards in English-speaking countries include:

  • Occupational Safety and Health Act (United States)
  • Occupational Health and Safety Regulations (Canada)
  • Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations (United Kingdom)
  • Model Work Health and Safety Act (Australia)
  • The Health and Safety in Employment Act (New Zealand)

Without violating the relevant act or standard, companies may have unique PPE rules which workers must follow. For example, certain worksites may call for use of a specific piece of safety equipment.

As an employee, you are obligated to follow these rules to minimize risks you may face.

 

6. Who Decides What PPE I Should Wear for a Job?

Your employer, in accordance with the above-mentioned act or standard, should decide the kinds of PPE you should wear for a specific job.

If you feel you need another – or different – piece of PPE, talk to your manager.

 

7. How Do I Choose the Right PPE for the Job?

Choosing the right PPE for the job is another task that’s largely the responsibility of your employer, and is based on a variety of factors.

For example, OSHA mandates that PPE selection must follow workplace assessment results.

Specifically, employers must identify and analyze workplace hazards that would call for the use of PPE. But before selecting PPE to match a given hazard – such as using Kevlar® Steel or Dyneema® Steel gloves to protect against cuts – they must determine if they can effectively address the hazard another way. For example, can the hazard be mitigated by guards?

If employers cannot do so, they must choose the right PPE for affected employees.

 

8. Is PPE Important?

Yes. Each kind of PPE plays a role in workplace safety, but all help contribute to worker safety.

Consider that 8.1% of fatal work injuries in the US are caused by being struck by an object, according to a 2014 United States Department of Labor study. What’s more, 8.2% of fatalities were electrocutions.

In many cases, the damage could have been lessened with appropriate PPE such as hardhats and electrical gloves.

 

9. What’s the Most Necessary Piece of PPE?

There is no single answer to this question, as the correct response depends on:

  • The nature of your job
  • The types of hazards in your workplace
  • If PPE is used as a last resort for certain hazards and not others

For example, if handling sharp material is a crucial part of your role, using cut-resistant gloves may be the only way to prevent injuries. In this case, the gloves may be the most necessary piece of PPE.

If different pieces of PPE are used as last safety resorts, one may not be more important than another.

 

10. Legally, Do I Have to Wear PPE?

The answer to this question varies depending on where you work. Generally, the legal onus falls on your employer to ensure you’re properly using PPE.

For example, the United States Department of Labor mandates that employers must train each worker who is required to use PPE. They must know how to use each piece of necessary equipment, as well as the limitations of said equipment.

Canada’s Occupational Health and Safety Regulations also state that employers must:

  • Provide PPE and other protective devices
  • Make sure these resources are used as prescribed
  • Maintain these resources in usable conditions

The second point in the above list indicates that, legally, employers must ensure employees properly use PPE.

But if you flagrantly disregard workplace guidelines, your employer will likely determine the consequences.

 

11. Should PPE Be My First Course of Action for Safety?

 Not normally. Using or wearing PPE is typically a final, not first, course of action for safety.

Although PPE plays an important role, your employer should prioritize hazard-control measures to protect your livelihood. Because of such measures, most workplaces mandate PPE as a back-up or temporary safety method.

However, in the case that there are no other ways to stop or mitigate apparent risks, using PPE can act as a first action for safety.

 

12. Can I Be Fined for Not Wearing PPE?

Many governmental health and safety bodies fine employers for disregarding PPE.

For example, OSHA can issue citations to an organization for each worker ignoring or improperly following PPE standards.

To receive a per-employee fine, the employer must meet one of these requirements:

  • Many violations caused high rates of injuries or illnesses
  • A violation led to damage such as a worksite catastrophe, worker fatality or injuries and illnesses
  • The employer has violated regulations in the past or has purposely disregarded OSHA-mandated responsibilities, undermining the effectiveness of an OSHA program
  • The employer’s overall conduct – as partially demonstrated through employees – demonstrates a lack of faith in OSHA

Your actions can lead to these violations, incurring fines for your employer.

 

13. I Find PPE to be too Uncomfortable. Can I Refuse to Wear It?

If you find a given piece of PPE to be uncomfortable, you should ask your employer for an alternative or suggest a different model.

Outright refusal to wear PPE on the grounds of comfort is unlikely a valid reason in the eyes of your employer. On the other hand, your employer may see refusal due to health or religious issues as legitimate.

For example, if a particular pair of work boots triggers a skin condition such as psoriasis, your employer should work with you to find another method of foot protection – even if it simply involves providing a different kind of footwear.

Regardless, you should discuss issues regarding inability to use PPE with your supervisor.

 

14. What Should I Do if I got Hurt While Wearing PPE?

First and foremast, you or your colleagues must alert management and seek the appropriate level of medical attention.

Beyond this, the specific answer to the question depends on factors such as:

  • The injury’s severity You may be entitled to worker’s compensation. For example, some legal acts ensure compensation for wage loss as the result of a work-related injury or disability.
  • The injury’s cause If it was the result of a complete accident, bringing the cause to your employer’s attention is the first step in it being addressed. But if you felt you were injured because of employer negligence, such as inability to identify hazards, you have the right to seek legal consultation.
  • Legal protection Depending on legislation, you may be able to hold your employer accountable for damages if you feel their negligence was at least partly responsible for your injury.

After receiving medical attention, keep these factors in mind as you consider your next step – be it asking for a brief, paid absence or pursuing legal action.

 

15. What Should I Do if I get Hurt While NOT Wearing PPE?

Just as if you were wearing PPE, your first steps are to alert management and seek medical attention.

However, you likely do not have the same range of options afterwards.

Although you may receive worker’s compensation, you may not be able to hold your employer accountable for your disregard for PPE. Especially if your managers taught you how and when to use PPE, as per legislation.

Because of this, company policy will generally determine a course of action.

 

Keep your workers safe by downloading this checklist, helping you choose the right PPE for your worksite
download button

 

Final Thoughts About This PPE Guide

Reading and referencing this guide will help you create, run and refine a cost-effective PPE program that protects your workers and colleagues.

And by downloading the checklist, you’ll be able to choose PPE best suited to keep your workers safe from worksite hazards.

With safe employees, you’ll enjoy a happier and more productive workplace.

 

Download your free PPE checklist



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tarasafe14@gmail.com'

Wow !! what a comprehensive and informative blog. With new innovations PPE is comfortable and cool without sacrificing safety. ” Heavy on safety, light on you”

Reply TaraSafe - March 2, 2017



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