Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is an essential safety feature that protects employees when engaged in tasks that present a hazardous risk. Unfortunately, ignoring this requirement continues to put many lives at risk and cause permanent injuries. Victims, supervisors, and safety officers all bear responsibility when something goes awry as a result of failing to comply with safety standards. Here we provide a guide on how to know which PPE is required for a job.
Safety Data Sheets (SDS) And Training
Safety Data Sheets (SDS) are prepared by importers, distributors, and manufacturers of dangerous chemicals. The law requires that these documents are user-friendly and easily understood by the layperson. If you are working with chemicals in the workplace, insist on being given a copy of the relevant SDS.
Management is responsible for ensuring that safety officers are appointed for work sites and that all staff who are required to wear PPE are fully trained in the use of those items and when and how to use them. Never deviate from the training manual. It is not worth risking life and limb on the job when PPE is readily available. Note, also, that managers cannot compel employees to work in dangerous situations without first providing the requisite Equipment PPE to all staff members who may be affected by virtue of their duties. Involve your union shop steward, if you have one, if you need support in tackling a manager who has failed to outfit his employees with the required PPE.
The Hazardous Materials Identification System (HMIS)
The Hazardous Materials Identification System (HMIS) is a hazard communication standard that may be used by an employer. Risks are categorized as health, flammability, and physical hazards, with the assignment of numbers between zero and four. The final category, health effects, is rated with an alphabetical letter that denotes the PPE items that must be worn when working with a specific substance.
The Extended Responsibility Of The Employer
It is not sufficient for employers to rely on SDS and other rating systems. The OHSA Act makes it clear that the role of employers should involve several layers of risk management. For example, the employer is required to train employees how to read SDS documents and what PPE to wear, and to conduct risk assessments. Managers and supervisors need to contact the companies they obtain hazardous material from to confirm what constitutes adequate PPE and also get information from PPE suppliers. Every company must have a safety committee and conduct meetings regularly, as defined by OHSA.
Inspectors continue to see incidences of employees not being fully equipped with the full PPE items they need. Common PPE that is not being used when it should be includes media for putting out fires, eye wash stations, ventilation systems, and fume hoods. Additionally, apart from hazardous substances, other PPE that should be used as appropriate are safety harnesses, hard hats and footwear, visibility clothing, masks and respirators, and hand protection.
Before taking on a hazardous task, make sure you know the correct work procedures and which PPE to wear.