Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should be used in the workplace whenever there are health and safety risks that cannot be adequately controlled in other ways. PPE is considered the last line of defense against hazards, and it’s used when other measures (like elimination, substitution, engineering controls, and administrative controls) are not feasible or do not provide sufficient protection.
Here are some situations when PPE should be used in the workplace:
- Exposure to Harmful Substances: This includes exposure to chemicals, biohazards, radioactive materials, or dust. Examples of PPE used for these risks could include respirators, safety goggles, and protective suits.
- Risk of Physical Injury: This includes risks from falling objects, sharp items, machinery, electrical equipment, hot surfaces, or noise. In these cases, hard hats, safety shoes, gloves, earplugs or earmuffs, and other types of PPE might be used.
- Working in Extreme Conditions: This includes working at heights, in confined spaces, or in extreme temperatures. Fall protection equipment, thermal clothing, or special breathing apparatus might be needed.
- Risk of Illness or Infection: In healthcare settings, PPE like gloves, gowns, masks, and face shields are used to protect against the spread of infectious diseases.
It’s important to note that the use of PPE should be based on a risk assessment that considers the specific hazards of the job and the workplace. Employers are generally responsible for providing appropriate PPE, and for training workers on how to use and care for their PPE properly.
In addition, PPE should be properly fitted to the individual user and should be regularly inspected, cleaned, maintained, and replaced as necessary. It’s also crucial to remember that PPE does not eliminate the hazard; it simply provides a barrier between the worker and the hazard. Therefore, the use of PPE must be combined with other safety measures to ensure a safe working environment.