Safetip #130: Plan and Conduct Inspections of PPE
Regulatory Requirement to Provide and Maintain PPE
In many jurisdictions around the world, there is a regulatory requirement to provide workers with the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), and to ensure that they are properly maintained. For example, there are over a dozen OSHA standards for General Industry related to PPE.
Providing the appropriate PPE is only the beginning. PPE must also be well maintained because they can be damaged from wear and tear through frequent usage, which may reduce the level of protection offered by PPE.
A Database of PPE Facilitates Inspections
To ensure the proper maintenance of PPE and make sure they still provide adequate protection, plan and conduct periodic inspections of PPE items. To facilitate inspections, create and maintain a database of all PPE throughout all facilities. This database can be part of your EHS management software system.
For each PPE item, the database should include the type of PPE (e.g. helmet, respirator, gloves, boots, clothing, etc.), manufacturer, model number, expiry date (if applicable), facilities where it is used, the date of the last inspection, etc. You can then set manual or automatic (e.g. monthly, quarterly, annual) alerts in the EHS software system to make sure that you’re reminded when it’s time to conduct inspections.
To simplify things further, rather than conducting an individual inspection for each PPE item, you can conduct inspections for PPE types (e.g. one inspection for all gloves, one inspection for all respirators, etc.), or individual inspections of all PPE items by facility. Be aware that some PPE items may require more frequent inspections than others, due to higher usage, which may impact your inspection plans.
Inspections can also provide an opportunity to schedule required calibrations or adjustments of PPE (check out the section “PPE register” of this SHP Online article and the example of a gas detector).
Finally, the entire inspection process can be further facilitated and improved with a mobile app for inspections allowing inspections to be completed from anywhere and at any time. Also, through the mobile app, action plans can be created and assigned on the fly, based on the findings of the inspection (e.g. replace a PPE item, contact manufacturer for further information or instructions, etc.)
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