We discuss electrical safety a lot here, but we do receive the occasional question of “What do I need?” and “How do I get it?” when it comes to Personal Protective Equipment. I’d love to give you a huge list of awesome gear I’ve used over the years and lead you down an expensive path to that achieving that new gear smell, but luckily, there’s a simpler answer to this question.
In short, it is the responsibility of your employer to fulfill your PPE needs at your facility or job site, and this distinction comes straight from the National Fire Protection Association and OSHA. A survey of your workplace is typically performed to obtain the necessary information needed to determine the extent of protection employees will need when performing certain tasks. When the hazards cannot be reduced or eliminated through other control methods, PPE is provided to protect employees from the identified hazards they will be exposed to in their work environment.
Let’s break down the responsibilities:
Identifies hazards and establishes necessary protective measures to be followed while in the work environment. This extends to job safety planning, risk assessments, and field audits.
Selects and issues to employees PPE appropriate for the job tasks being performed.
Provides training for employees on the proper use, care, and maintenance of PPE. This includes information on the purpose of the equipment as well as the limitations of the equipment as applicable through proper use.
Ensures that PPE is worn when necessary.
Care for PPE by keeping equipment clean and organized.
Inspect PPE before each use for proper function and report damaged equipment immediately.
Wear equipment fully and correctly when performing tasks where it is necessary.
Use PPE only for its intended function as recommended by the manufacturer.
Inform employer of the need for additional PPE as hazards arise that provided equipment does not protect against.
These guidelines will help your employer ensure that only approved and appropriate PPE is worn and that it is being used in the correct manner. Improper application of PPE in certain circumstances can be just as dangerous as not wearing PPE.
Now, while your employer shoulders the bulk of responsibility here, it is still your responsibility to actually wear and use PPE appropriately. Misuse of equipment results in substandard performance and often dangerous work environments. Remember, you may be working with others while PPE is required, and your safety practices can have an impact on the safety of others involved in your job.
If you find yourself performing tasks at your facility that expose you to hazards, and you do not have appropriate PPE to protect yourself, inform management of the specific hazard. More often than not, there is protective equipment available for use, rather than it being an unknown hazard, though this is always a possibility. Ultimately, you are responsible for your actions and safety, and your employer will consider your safety with equal seriousness.
And for those particularly hard nuts to crack, you’ll know the type if you’ve worked with them, I always like to remind them that ego doesn’t play a role in PPE and walking away from a job safely. We all deserve the same respect and when working as a team, going home safe should be everyone’s goal.