While some workplaces will have PPE that is required on a daily basis or worn at all times, other personal protective equipment should be safely stored. The storage of personal protective equipment is almost as important has having it on hand, and an obligation set forth by OSHA, specifically requiring that PPE must be “maintained in a sanitary and reliable condition.” A facility should have a specific area, away from harsh conditions, designated solely for storing PPE. While PPE needs to be stored in a specific drawer or cabinet, it must also be easily accessible in case of emergencies. Facilities should consider having extra PPE on hand. In the case of lost, damaged, or compromised equipment, injuries can be avoided by having extra equipment stored on site.
If there is PPE that cannot be stored because it is designed for one-time use, employers need to provide proper receptacles for safe disposal. Employees should be trained on the importance of keeping PPE clean as they hold partial responsibility for maintaining the integrity of the equipment. If PPE is stored in a drawer or storage closet, these must be well-organized and periodically reviewed by the safety or facility manager to ensure the equipment is in good condition.
Some personal protective clothing might be items workers are allowed to take home as it is required to be worn at all times. This equipment should also be periodically inspected, and employees should understand their responsibility in taking care of take-home PPE.
Alongside training employees on where PPE is stored, a facility should also consider adding visual communication to their PPE program. Letting employees not only know when and where PPE is required, but where the clothing can be found is important to safety. Often times in emergency situations people forget procedures or where things are located, and a simple sign can help change that.