It is crucial for employees to understand when and where PPE should be worn. An employer or safety manager will first need to conduct a hazard risk assessment. This assessment consists of a thorough walk through the facility to identify all present hazards and areas that have a risk of becoming a hazard. Once this is done, there should have a list of areas, tasks, or equipment that pose a serious risk to the worker. These hazards will be a guiding point to the purchasing of PPE and implementing rules of where and when PPE will need to be worn. In some job sites, PPE could be required at all times. For instance, construction workers are often obligated to wear a hard hat any time they are in the job site.
Common areas or hazards that will require a worker to wear PPE can include:
- Extreme temperatures
- Sources of electricity from equipment or machines
- Harmful dust
- Hazardous chemicals
- Loud noises
- Sharp objects that could cut, stab, or puncture
- Areas with the potential of falling or dropping objects
And much more! A hazard assessment should not be a one-time event. Instead, a safety manager or supervisor should conduct these assessments periodically after any changes in equipment, conditions or procedures. Employees have the right under OSHA law to understand what situations and what areas will require them to don PPE and is a crucial part to any PPE training or PPE program.
Facility managers should use safety signs, labels, and other forms of communication to remind workers of areas or equipment that require PPE to be worn. Visual reminders are a great way for employees to remember when the equipment should be worn (like when a machine is turned on) and which type of PPE will be needed. Reminding employees of using the proper equipment can reduce injuries and save lives.