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Design an Effective PPE Program in 7 Steps

by Joe Geng on January 8, 2015

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The start of a new year always encourages new goals – if yours has to do with PPE selection and implementation, we’ve got you covered.


Personal protective equipment or PPE is an important line of defense against workplace injury. Some examples of PPE include gloves, respirators, steel toed boots, aprons, safety glasses and earplugs. In order to use PPE effectively in the workplace, a program must be established to phase in and monitor its use.

You want to create and implement a successful one? Here’s how:

1. Appoint a Program Director:

Having one point of contact that is responsible for the entire implementation of the program will help you to coordinate the effort in your workplace. This person can interface between management, employees, safety representatives and equipment providers to ensure that your program is effective. Program directors should also be responsible for conducting audits and enforcement of policy standards.

2. Obtain Buy-in at All Levels of Your Organization:

You need to have everyone on board with your PPE program. This goes from the board room all the way to the supply closets. Without all levels of your organization behind your implementation, you’re almost destined to fail. It is vital that everyone sees how important this program is to the integrity of your organization.

3. Assess the Hazards:

Before choosing the right PPE, you need to know what hazards you are protecting against. Are you preventing exposure to chemicals or protecting against punctures and lacerations? It might be useful to use both a site survey and an employee survey to assess the dangers. Workers who are on the floor every day will know what hazards they face.

4. Make Sure the PPE is User Friendly:

PPE that will hinder employees or make them uncomfortable is PPE that won’t be used. Once the type of PPE has been chosen, make sure to assess its comfort when in use. Employees won’t use it if it is more difficult to get a job done using the PPE, or the equipment is very uncomfortable to wear. If possible, involve a small selection of the main users of the equipment in choosing what equipment to buy. Always test the equipment out first before committing to a large implementation.


5. Train Employees on Uses and Rules:

Improperly used PPE has the potential to cause more injury than not using it at all, so proper training is required before implementation. Make sure to cover topics like optimum usage, how to adjust fit for individuals, care and maintenance. Workers and managers should both be trained on the PPE to ensure that everyone involved is aware of the proper usage of the equipment.

6. Use a Phased Approach to Implementation (If Appropriate):

If it’s possible in your environment, use a phased approach to your PPE Program implementation. This allows workers enough time to get used to using the PPE and get comfortable with it. Allow plenty of time between rollout of the equipment and enforcement.


7. Conduct Program Audits:

The program isn’t going to be effective if it goes unused. Conduct departmental audits to ensure that employees are complying with the PPE program and the guidelines for its use that were presented in the training.

If you’re responsible for selecting and implementing PPE at your place of business, this is an excellent way to set things up. You’ll avoid a lot of headaches and mistakes… follow the seven steps and check in with them regularly to ensure continued success.


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Reader Comments'

Good suggestions. I find many employers do not conduct hazard assessments first. I believe incorporating the value of PPE use into the training is critical for sucess. What is in it for me….how will my life be better when I wear my PPE properly?

Reply Dianne Grote Adams - July 4, 2015

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