Personal Protective Equipment

Does Your PPE Program Meet OSHA’s Requirements?

Your PPE program should be reviewed periodically to make sure it still meets your needs as well as OSHA requirements. When you review, look for the four essentials described in the Advisor today and tomorrow.

OSHA requires the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) to reduce employee exposure to hazards when engineering and administrative controls are not feasible or effective in reducing these exposures to acceptable levels.

It’s up to you to determine if and when PPE should be used to protect your workers and which type of PPE will best protect them.

OSHA says that if PPE is used in your workplace, you have to implement a PPE program. This program should address:

  • Hazards present
  • Selection, maintenance, and use of PPE
  • Training of employees
  • Monitoring of the program to ensure its ongoing effectiveness

So today and tomorrow, we thought we’d review these four essential requirements to give you the opportunity to review your PPE program and make sure you’re in compliance and your employees are safe.

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PPE Essential 1—Hazard Assessment

Section 1910.132(d)(1) of the OSHA standard says that employers must “assess the workplace to determine if hazards are present, or are likely to be present, which necessitate the use of personal protective equipment.”

Think head-to-toe protection and be sure to consider all the hazards—falling objects, chemical exposures, flying objects, sharp objects, and rolling or pinching objects, as well as all the protections—hard hats, safety glasses and goggles, respirators, gloves, safety shoes, and other clothing and equipment.

The better you identify and understand the impact of specific hazards, the better able you will be to take the next step and select the most appropriate PPE.

When you’ve completed your hazard assessment, you must certify in writing that the PPE hazard assessment has been performed. The written certification must identify the:

  • Workplace evaluated
  • Date of the assessment
  • Person certifying that the evaluation has been performed
  • Hazards found
  • PPE selected

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PPE Essential 2—Equipment Selection

Section 1910.132(d)(1) also says that if such hazards are present—or are likely to be—you must:

  • Select, and have affected employees use, the types of PPE that will protect them from the hazards you have identified.
  • Communicate selection decisions to employees.
  • Select PPE that fits each affected employee properly.

Section 1910.132(h) states that PPE, with only a few exceptions, shall be provided by the employer at no cost to the employee. The exceptions include:

  • Nonspecialty safety-toe protective footwear (including steel-toe shoes or steel-toe boots), provided that the employer permits such items to be worn off the jobsite
  • Nonspecialty prescription safety eyewear, provided that the employer permits such items to be worn off the jobsite
  • Shoes or boots with built-in metatarsal protection that the employee chooses instead of metatarsal guards provided by the employer
  • Logging boots required by 29 CFR 1910.266(d)(1)(v)

Tomorrow, we’ll conclude this look at OSHA’s requirements with PPE essentials 3 and 4.

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