One way to help ensure the safety of your workers is by training them in the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
PPE is equipment worn to minimize exposure to hazards that cause serious workplace injuries and illnesses, which can result from contact with chemical, radiological, physical, electrical, mechanical, or other workplace hazards. PPE includes things such as hard hats, safety glasses, protective hearing devices, foot and arm protection, respirators, coveralls, and more.
Training means making sure ALL employees know the role of personal protective equipment at the workplace AND within their own job.
For instance, they need to know that OSHA requires the use of PPE to reduce employee exposure to hazards when engineering and administrative controls are not effective. And, as an employer, you are required to ensure each worker required to use PPE knows:
- When PPE is necessary
- What kind of PPE is necessary
- How to properly put it on, adjust it, ensure it fits, take it off
- Limitations of the equipment
- Proper care, maintenance, useful life, and disposal of the equipment
Examples of PPE Safety Talks
PPE keeps workers safe at work. From head to toe, PPE is a critical part of any safety plan. But training and education are just as important as the equipment itself. In addition to required training, consider doing some ‘brief’ educational moments.
These are some topics that make for good toolbox talks or safety briefs.
Overprotection and underprotection can be just as dangerous as no protection. For instance, overprotection, when you wear too many layers, can lead to heat stress; whereas, underprotection may lead to chronic health problems after prolonged exposure to hazardous substances. Show workers how to balance using the best protection with the greatest comfort.
Set up a time to listen to your workers about what types of equipment work best. Did you know, when the job requires the ability to grasp small objects (i.e., test tubes), you should use gloves with a textured finish on the fingertips? For larger, heavier objects you’ll want gloves with a roughened surface. Your employees can weigh in on brands, colors, models and more since they are doing the job the PPE is required for.
Make sure workers understand that whether a task takes a few minutes or several hours, if PPE is required it MUST be worn. There are no exceptions for a ‘5-minute’ job; because in that 5 minutes, your worker is still exposed to the hazard.
Cleaning and storing. If PPE isn’t taken care of, it won’t function as it is supposed to and workers may be hurt. Talk to employees about the proper care and reporting of damaged or worn-out PPE.
Schedule some safety briefs or toolbox talks on a regular basis, such as once a month. Your workers are going to be more willing to adhere to the rules and use PPE if they understand its importance.