PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is essential for many workplaces. The type you need depends on the environment and situation in which you might find yourself. Its goal is to keep workers safer while they are on construction sites and in other areas.
Thousands of workers are significantly injured or killed each year, and many of these incidents could be prevented with appropriate PPE. OSHA governs when and what types of PPE must be used. Therefore, you just have to follow the guidelines and rules set out for your industry.
Still, personal protective equipment doesn’t last forever. It could be just as or more dangerous to wear malfunctioning or poorly preserved PPE. This means that you should be aware of the signs that it is time to replace it.
In some cases, the PPE you have on-site is going to have an expiration date. The supplier includes this information to ensure that you don’t continue using outdated or worn equipment. Expiration dates are not included on all types of personal protective equipment. If it is there, it is going to be shown on the packaging and, in some cases, on the item itself.
Sometimes, the signs are noticeable and ‘in your face.’ Before putting on any personal protective equipment, check it for tears, rips, and holes.
The company should have policies in place for employees to care for and maintain PPE. It should be checked after it is worn and before it is put on again. You may also want to have a specific team on-site that checks PPE periodically for signs of wear and tear. Generally, this should happen once a year. However, some companies use quarterly checks every four months to ensure that the PPE is still in good condition.
In some cases, personal protective equipment has to be inspected periodically by OSHA personnel. It is important that you keep scheduled appointments and allow the representative to have access to all PPE on-site. Keep any certifications you get in a safe place.
How to Ensure Longevity
Remember that your PPE isn’t designed to last forever. That said, some personal protective equipment is better than others. If you are looking for a new supplier or wonder about your current one, here are a few tips to ensure that you’re getting high-quality PPE:
There are many authentic suppliers of PPE out there. It can be tempting to save money or get things shipped faster by using a different company. However, these cost-savings could be risky and harmful to your employees.
It’s also important that your employees know where the PPE is and how to use it correctly. Often, it seems easy to put on a mask or a pair of overalls. Still, they need to know when it is appropriate to use it and how to ensure the right fit.
You should make sure that the personal protective equipment is stored correctly, as well. If they aren’t single-use items, they need to be hung up, folded, or put away. This includes keeping them away from heat sources and preventing direct sunlight exposure. Your PPE is sure to have warnings on it. Make sure to follow all of the rules for storage. That way, it is going to last longer and stay durable for more extended periods.
Ways to Make Sure Employees Use PPE Properly
Every year, serious injuries could have been prevented if employees wore PPE correctly. Make sure that you and all of the managers are leading by example. If you have to be in an area where PPE is required, make sure that you wear it correctly, too, even if you’re only there for a short period.
When choosing PPE for your employees, try to consider comfortable options. Yes, sometimes, it is impossible to do this, but try as best you can. Workers often say they don’t wear PPE because it’s uncomfortable. For example, you can choose work gloves with the appropriate protective layer, while the inside is lined with soft nylon. Consider high-visibility vests with airflow in mind or moisture-wicking properties.
You should also work hard to create accountability, so employees feel comfortable reminding others to wear personal protective equipment. Of course, you may need to have discussions as to the right way to communicate concerns. For example, if someone yells at another to put on PPE or claims they didn’t wear it on purpose, this is inappropriate.
Signage is also important. Make sure that each station or department has signs that clearly specify which PPE is needed. Furthermore, enforce those policies so that everyone knows the company is serious.
It can be challenging to know when to replace your PPE. Still, it is up to you to keep your employees safe. Make sure that they feel comfortable coming to you and other managers about their concerns. You can save lives by setting up policies, using authentic equipment, and focusing on comfort.
If you haven’t checked the personal protective equipment in a while, it’s time to do so. Then, set up a schedule of when to inspect PPE. You can add it to your calendar or put it in your smartphone as a reminder. Regardless of how you remind yourself, you can be sure that the items are safe to continue using, and you know which ones need to be replaced.