Safetip #19: Personal Protective Equipment Program Checklist
A PPE Program Must Be Comprehensive
Workers wear PPE to limit exposure to specific occupational hazards. The hazards addressed by PPE include physical, electrical, heat, chemicals, biohazards, and airborne particulate matter. Examples of PPE include respirators, gloves, aprons, fall protection, full body suits, helmets, goggles, safety shoes, etc. PPE does not eliminate a workplace hazard. In fact, it is considered the least effective control in the hierarchy of controls. However, PPE is used if the implementation of other, more effective controls is not feasible for a specific process.
A PPE program assesses the need for PPE. It starts with an assessment of the workplace to determine if hazards are present, or are likely to be present, which would make PPE necessary. A PPE program also includes steps regarding the selection of the proper type of PPE based on hazards and specific standards from regulatory bodies (e.g. OSHA) or industry associations.
A PPE program must be comprehensive, and requires commitment and active participation from all levels of the organization.
Use a Checklist to Make a PPE Program More Effective
The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety (CCOHS) provides a very good checklist that you can use when designing a PPE program:
Designing a PPE Program:
- Ensure the “hierachy of controls” methods such as elimination, substitution, engineering controls, and administrative controls, are considered first. PPE is the last line of defence.
- Secure the active participation of all parties.
- Ensure that a program coordinator has been appointed.
- Observe the gradual phasing in of the PPE program on a pre-arranged time schedule.
- Re-evaluate the program on an ongoing basis.
- Publicize commitment to the program.
- Ensure a clear, concise company policy has been formulated.
- Examine the educational program.
- Review work practices, job procedures, equipment and plant layout.
- Use job hazard analysis techniques to integrate accepted safety and health principles and practice into specific operations. (Also, share the job hazard analysis with those involved in operations to get feedback on the most practical use of PPE, and to embed awareness of the greatest hazards and subsequent importance of PPE)
- Choose PPE to match the hazard.
- Obtain advice on proper selection.
- Institute workplace trials.
- Consider the physical comfort of PPE.
- Evaluate cost considerations of PPE usage.
- Ensure PPE meets standards / certification (e.g., CSA, CGSB, NIOSH, ANSI).
Fitting and wearing
- Ensure program includes the individual fitting of PPE.
- Survey users to ensure PPE is worn properly.
- Ensure that workers know how to perform regular maintenance and inspection of their PPE.
- Ensure that workers can identify potential problems or defects with their PPE during the pre-use inspection or while wearing/using.
- Verify that all users, supervisors, selectors, buyers, and storekeepers are trained.
- Ensure that education programs are ongoing.
Auditing the Program
- Review the program at least annually.
- Review and compare production and safety performance records.