6 Simple Steps to Create a PPE Program That Works
Creating a PPE Program is an excerpt from Superior Glove’s PPE Bible “The Complete Guide to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) [+ Checklist Download].” Read the full guide for more information, including answers to industry workers’ 15 most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about PPE.
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.
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.
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 work site’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.
Final Thoughts About This PPE Guide:
Reading and referencing the full 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 work site hazards.
With safe employees, you’ll enjoy a happier and more productive workplace.