PPE is the commonly used acronym for personal protective equipment and refers to any garments or equipment designed to be worn and protect employees from occupational hazards including physical, chemical, biological, electrical, mechanical, and radiological hazards. All types of workplaces can pose a number of risks for injury: fire hazards, sharp blades, forklifts and heavy machinery, hazardous chemicals, loud noises, falling objects, working at heights, and much more. Whether the workplace is a laboratory or a factory, it is important workers are protected from the present hazards. Some hazards to keep in mind as common
The Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA) has set and enforces regulations, often referring to the standards developed by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). OSHA requires employers to assess the physical and health hazards in the workplace and identify the proper PPE to protect from workers from exposure or injury. The responsibility of PPE largely falls onto the employer, who will need to provide PPE, ensure it correctly fits the worker, provide areas to store PPE, conduct trainings on the proper use of PPE, and regularly inspect the equipment ensuring they are in proper condition. ANSI has several different standards that have been developed over the years covering subjects like noise reduction rating, safety glasses regulations, and more.
When it comes to the hierarchy of hazard controls, PPE is at the bottom of this hierarchy is considered the last line of defense for workers. Even so, it is crucial to have well-fitting, properly designed, and maintained equipment as PPE is a proven way to improve safety and prevent accidents in the workplace. Employers should hang PPE requirement signs around the facility to remind workers where and when is the appropriate time to don their PPE and ensure everyone is well informed about the PPE practices of the workplace.