Tuesday, April 16, 2013

How to Prepare a PPE Assessment

 It is the employer's responsibility to assess workplace hazards. These assessments should be used to determine if any personal protective equipment is required, 'on the job.' Here's a good way of going about a risk assessment.

Go 'walk-about' in all the workplace settings under your responsibility. You should be looking for anything that might constitute a hazard. Situations that could result in;

• Impact from objects falling or dropped
• Compression from rolling stock
• Penetration from anything underfoot or at height
• Chemical spill or leakage
• Heat exposure, fiery and long term
• Dust inhaled or airborne that could ignite

Look for the source of any risks you might encounter. Here are some;
• Rolling stock such as forklifts or dock levelers
• Objects that could fall or which are allowed to fall or drop
• Machinery and tools that might unexpectedly interfere with workers or move other objects.
• Excessive heat sources that could injure from touch or cause adverse effects on persons.
• Stores of chemical that could result in exposure
• Dust
• Work resulting in excessive friction or exposure to light and
• Sharp objects and off-cuts underfoot or close at hand
• Electrical installations or components
After your walk-about commit your findings to a database. Organise your data according to the areas or work procedures that you observed. Remember, others will benefit from reading this so keep it simple and accurate. All this will help in the selection and justification for the PPE you select and it will help keep your initial analysis up to date.
Your database should now be your best tool for evaluating the overall risk including how likely this could result in personal injury. Of course every risk should be considered but keep in mind the possibility that more than one hazard could exist in any given work setting.
Once you've compiled your data and reviewed the results you still need to recommend the appropriate PPE. This should be a common-sense and technical approach. You'll have to know what PPE is available to you. There will be differing levels of protection depending on brands and some might be eliminated completely at this stage. You'll have to match the workplace risk with the right piece of PPE.
Ignore cost until you have identified the item of PPE that affords the best safety features but keep in mind there are always cost-effective alternatives to expensive PPE. Be especially careful about the useful life of any article of PPE. All too often, PPE is rendered useless by excessive wear on cheaper materials. Explore also where the products are made and how dedicated is the manufacturer to safety, as opposed to selling and marketing.