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Whether you’re doing a home improvement project in your backyard, working in a hospital around biohazards, or doing repairs at the top of an oil rig, the right equipment can make your job easier and safer. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is what we at PK Safety have a great deal of experience in, and you can find what you’re looking for across an array of categories for nearly every type of industry.
PPE is the broad term for all of the safety equipment that workers wear on the job to minimize their exposure to dangerous hazards. PPE can be clothing items, tools with safer designs, and devices that can monitor a worksite’s air quality and alert workers to hazards.
One of the most crucial parts of a safe workplace is employees who are trained not only in their roles, responsibilities, and basic housekeeping but also in the proper use of PPE. Employees should know which equipment is necessary; when that equipment needs to be used; how to put on, take off, adjust, and wear the PPE; the limitations of what it can and can’t protect against; and the proper care, maintenance, lifespan, and disposal of the equipment. Employers should make sure that their employees know and can demonstrate this training before they’re allowed to work and document this training. If there are changes in the workplace, types of required PPE, or a previously trained employee doesn’t retain or use their training, retraining should be done.
Examples of common PPE include gloves, boots, safety glasses, earmuffs, hard hats, respirators, and full-body suits. There are many different kinds of safety equipment, so you’ll have to choose the best possible PPE for your job.
Your job isn’t over once you get the gear and distribute it. Working conditions can change over time, so periodically reassessing the jobsite for changes is crucial. This will include reviewing recent and past injuries and illnesses to look for trends and ways that work conditions, equipment, and operating procedures could be improved. Any PPE that’s old or worn out should be removed from service and replaced. All hazard assessments should be documented: include identification of the workplace, the name of the person assessing it, the date of the assessment, and identification of the document certifying that the assessment was completed. If your assessments determine that PPE should be used, you should also have a PPE program. This program should address the on-site hazards, the selection, maintenance, and use of PPE, how employees are trained, and a way to monitor the program for results and effectiveness.
OSHA requires that many categories of PPE meet your industry’s ANSI standards or an equivalent metric for eye, face, head, and foot protection, and while there aren’t specific hand protection requirements laid out OSHA offers general recommendations for gloves based on jobs. All PPE, clothing, and equipment should be safely designed and well-constructed: PK Safety offers equipment with the latest technology from trusted, thoroughly vetted, and popular personal safety equipment brands like BW, 3M, MCR, and more, and we partner with local suppliers around the U.S. to source as much of our equipment from home as possible. If your job requires several different types of PPE—for example, eye protection that also needs to work with a respirator, or a face mask that needs to work with an employee’s prescription eyeglasses—make sure that the gear you choose is compatible so that the protection remains effective. Fit and comfort should also be considered in your selection process because uncomfortable safety equipment doesn’t get worn, and if it doesn’t get worn, it can’t do its job. A lot of PPE clothing comes in multiple sizes, so pick the right size for each worker or have a range of sizes and fits available to make sure everyone can get what they need.
Worksites need to follow a control hierarchy for worker safety: if the hazard can be eliminated, substituted, isolated, or worked around, those are preferable options. But for worksites where the potential dangers can’t be avoided, safety gear is necessary for everyone involved.
OSHA has quite a few requirements and guidelines where PPE is concerned. Employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace for all employees, which means protecting them from workplace hazards. Before you purchase any PPE, perform a hazard assessment of your workplace, which can include a facility walkthrough to note potential hazards and basic layout, along with a history of illnesses or injuries. Some potential hazards to look out for can include impact, penetration, compression, chemical, electrical, temperature, dust, light, or biologic hazards.
Once this assessment is complete, organize and analyze the data to determine which types of PPE you require. There are different types of equipment and levels of protection offered, so you’ll need research and maybe some help from safety experts in order to know exactly what you need. We recommend erring on the side of greater protection than the minimum—it’s better to have more protection than not enough.
While no equipment offers an absolute guarantee of safety, having it with you can reduce your risk of serious injuries and time off work as well as make the job easier and more comfortable.