Why a Hazard Assessment?

The reason for a hazard assessment is to find and evaluate the potential hazards to workers in their workplace. This allows the determination of the need for specific PPE that will add more protection from hazards that cannot be fully controlled by engineering or other means. The hazard assessment formalizes the approach for the selection of the most appropriate personal protection for a particular workplace. The most complex part of PPE selection is, by far, the identifying of chemical protective equipment and the selection of appropriate respirators for existing hazards. This is why an industrial hygienist is often employed.

Why Establish a PPE Program?

A PPE program sets out procedures for selecting, providing, and using PPE as part of an organization's routine operation. A written PPE program, although not mandatory, is easier to establish and maintain than a company policy and easier to evaluate than an unwritten one. To develop a written program, consideration should including the following elements or information:

  • 1. Identify steps taken to assess potential hazards in every employee's work space and in workplace operating procedures.
  • 2. Identify appropriate PPE selection criteria.
  • 3. Identify how you will train employees on the use of PPE, including the following:

a. What PPE is necessary?

b. When is PPE necessary?

c. How to properly inspect PPE for wear and damage.

d. How to properly put on and adjust the fit of PPE.

e. How to properly take off PPE.

f. The limitations of the PPE.

g. How to properly care for and store PPE.

  • 4. Identify how you will assess employee understanding of PPE training.
  • 5. Identify how you will enforce proper PPE use.
  • 6. Identify how you will provide for any required medical examinations.
  • 7. Identify how and when to evaluate the PPE program.

A personal protective program formalizes the use of PPE as well as sets up standards that will better protect the workforce and criteria for enforcement that are applicable to all employees, including management.

Finally, use PPE for potentially dangerous conditions. Use gloves, aprons, and goggles to avoid acid splashing. Wear earplugs for protection from high noise levels, and wear respirators to protect against toxic chemicals. The use of PPE should be the last consideration in eliminating or reducing the hazards the employee is subjected to because PPE can be heavy, awkward, uncomfortable, and expensive to maintain. Therefore, try to engineer the identified hazards out of the job.

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