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Many factors need to be considered when selecting PPE to protect employees from workplace hazards. With all of the types of operations that can present hazards and all of the types of PPE available to protect the different parts of a worker's body from specific types of hazards, this selection process can be confusing and at times overwhelming. Because of this, OSHA requires that employers implement a PPE program to help employers systematically assess the hazards in the workplace and select the appropriate PPE that will protect workers from those hazards. As to why PPE should be a part of the occupational safety and health (OSH) program, the following are some reasons:

  • • To assess the workplace to identify equipment, operations, chemicals, and other workplace components that could harm employees
  • • To guide the implementation of engineering controls and work practices to control or eliminate these hazards to the extent feasible
  • • To facilitate the selection the appropriate types of PPE to protect your employees from hazards that cannot be eliminated or controlled through engineering controls and work practices
  • • To inform employees why the PPE is necessary and when it must be worn
  • • To train employees on how to use and care for the selected PPE and how to recognize PPE deterioration and failure
  • • To require employees to wear the selected PPE in the workplace

The basic information presented here attempts to establish and illustrate a logical, structured approach to hazard assessment and PPE selection and use. These steps must be followed in order to prevent occupational injuries and illnesses.

Further Readings

Reese, C.D. Accident/Incident Prevention Techniques (Second Edition). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2012. Reese, C.D. Occupational Health and Safety Management: A Practical Approach (Third Edition). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2015.

Reese, C.D. and J.V. Eidson. Handbook of OSHA Construction Safety & Health (Second Edition). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2006.

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