What are the "Dos" and "Don'ts" of PPE?

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is worn to minimize exposure to potential dangers, keeping employees protected from any hazards which may be present in the workplace. Ensuring that the correct PPE is provided is a necessity to ensure its effectiveness. In this article, we discuss some of the key PPE dos and don'ts alongside some examples to help put the importance into perspective.

Do: Make sure PPE fits correctly

Poor fitting PPE can reduce its effectiveness so it is paramount that it is the correct fit for each employee to prevent risks. Always follow manufacturer guidelines when purchasing PPE to ensure it is a suitable and secure fit, communicating with employees to get an accurate understanding of the sizes needed. For example, if an employee needs to wear a respirator to protect them from harmful substances, it must form a proper seal against their face or they may still be breathing in chemicals.

Don’t: Share PPE

Each employee should have their own set of PPE to ensure that it is properly fitted and well maintained. Although it may seem cost-effective to share items such as gloves or helmets, this means a good fit is not achieved for all employees and it can also increase the risk of transmitting contaminants.

Do: Assess the necessary PPE

Each job role may require different types of PPE so it is important to carry out a thorough assessment to ensure all members of staff are provided with the equipment they need to work safely. For example, someone working in a laboratory will need goggles and gloves to protect against hazardous chemicals whereas someone working at height will need to be provided with a harness and helmet.

Don’t: Fail to keep up with regulation

Regulations continue to evolve as health and safety measures improve and PPE standards advance. It is the responsibility of a business to stay on top of PPE requirements to not only comply with the law, but to protect their employees in the best way possible. It is a good practice to work alongside a third party specializing in industry regulation, attending training courses and learning of any advancements.

Do: Clean and sanitize PPE

Failing to clean equipment may reduce its effectiveness or even cause further hazards. Upon being given their own set of PPE, each employee should be responsible for taking good care of it in line with manufacturer recommendations. For example, an employee working around chemicals must ensure their goggles are regularly cleaned to remove any residue which could cause irritation to their eyes or even damage their eyesight.

Don’t: Take shortcuts

When an employee is in a rush or is confidently carrying out a duty they regularly do, it can be tempting to not bother using their PPE. Even if the PPE is only needed for certain duties, it should be strictly enforced to ensure accidents are minimized and safety standards are adhered to. For example, if an employee is welding and fails to use their protective goggles, a spark or piece of debris may hit their eye and cause serious injury.

Do: Carry out inspections

An employer is responsible for ensuring regular inspections are carried out on all PPE, checking it over for any wear or tear and damage. For example, high visibility clothing would be checked to ensure it is still reflective and safety harnesses would be checked for any weakening ropes or worn carabiners.


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