The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to provide and maintain a safe work environment. This includes providing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for their employees when they are working in hazardous environments. PPE can include special workwear, eye protection, gloves, face shields, masks, and ventilation systems that prevent injury and illness on the job. This equipment should be cleaned and regularly inspected for damage. Organizations are required to pay a fine per violation if they fail to comply with OSHA standards.
OHSA PPE compliance can be challenging for some managers. They may have trouble choosing between similar looking PPE, especially if cost is a factor; but using poorly produced products, or those made with unsafe materials will put workers at risk in the field. If the employer tries to save money by using the wrong equipment or PPE, they may end up paying more later in citation fees.
Tips for Increasing OSHA PPE Compliance
Employers should begin by conducting a workplace hazard assessment. OSHA requires companies to first reduce their workers’ potential exposure to these hazards. This may include changing the location of the job site, using the most efficient equipment, or setting up barriers between workers and the hazard to limit exposure.
Once the assessment is complete and the hazards have been contained as much as possible, the company can start investing in PPE for all crew members occupying the space, based on the hazards in question.
Managers should stick to reputable websites and established brands when buying this equipment. Employers may be tempted to choose items at the lowest cost, but they need to make sure these comply with the latest guidelines. The equipment should be inspected and approved by the leading industry safety authority, such as Underwriters Laboratories. UL Classification in safety products means that the product has only been evaluated for specific properties, regarding a limited range of hazards, or for use under certain conditions.
OSHA PPE Workwear Requirements:
According to OSHA’s latest general industry standards, all PPE used in the workplace must meet the following guidelines:
Managers need to buy PPE that keeps their workers comfortable on the job. They should purchase a range of sizes to meet the needs of their crew, unless the item is adjustable. The item needs to fit over the person’s entire face or body without limiting their range of motion. If the person has facial hair, they may need to wear a full-face respirator or face shield instead of a mask, to limit their exposure to workplace hazards.
All these items will need to be cleaned on a regular basis, preferably at the end or beginning of each shift. The company will need to provide cleaning products, such as antibacterial wipes and disinfectants. The equipment should also be stored in a secure, dry location, away from sunlight and at room temperature to prevent deterioration.
Though some PPE, like disposable respirators, can be one-time-use, your gear should be made with durable materials that will last through the shift and many times after that. Where appropriate, companies can save money by laundering their PPE instead of replacing this equipment when it gets dirty. However, workers and managers need to make sure they are washing PPE according to the manufacturer’s guidelines to avoid compromising efficacy.
Workers need to inspect and test this equipment before entering the field. They may need to conduct tests to make sure the equipment is working properly. They should inspect the item for tears, scratches, cracks, and weak spots that could increase the risk of injury and illness. The item should be removed from circulation and replaced if it cannot be repaired.
Preventing workplace accidents and OSHA PPE fines is an ongoing process. Managers and their employees should work together when assessing and choosing this equipment, so everyone feels confident working in the field.
If you’re looking for quality PPE for your organization, visit PK Safety to learn more about our top safety brands and quality materials. Our team of safety experts are always standing by to help you select the correct PPE for your worksite and needs.