Safetip #103: Monitor the Effectiveness of Your PPE Program
Start by Identifying Hazards and Assessing Risks
Before designing a personal protective equipment (PPE) program, you need to identify occupational hazards that workers are exposed to, and that can create risks of injuries or illnesses. This first step is important because PPE is the least effective hazard control method. PPE does not eliminate or reduce a hazard, it simply provides additional protection to lessen the risk of injury or illness. Other control methods part of the hierarchy of controls are more effective, including:
- Elimination of the Hazard
- Substitution of the Hazard
- Engineering Controls
- Administrative Controls
Before considering PPE, you should evaluate the practicality and economic feasibility of implementing any of the other four hazard controls methods. Nevertheless, many workplaces will still include situations where the use of PPE is inevitable.
Evaluate the Impact of Your PPE Program on Safety Performance
The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety (CCOHS) has a very good list of the essential elements that constitute a PPE program. The elements are the following:
- Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment
- Selection of Appropriate Controls
- Selection of Appropriate PPE
- Education and Training
- Management Support
- Auditing of the Program
The development of a PPE program must be well planned, and the benefits of the program should be explained and communicated to everyone. In addition, workers should be involved in all stages of the program.
Following its implementation, you should monitor the effectiveness of your PPE program by inspecting equipment and auditing procedures. CCOHS also says that the PPE program should be reviewed at least annually, although it may be preferable to review critical areas more frequently. Finally, CCOHS advises that you review and compare safety performance and production data collected before the PPE program began, with data collected after the implementation of the program. This comparison will help you evaluate the effectiveness of the program.
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