Personal protective equipment (PPE) helps protect workers against all kinds of hazards, from bumps on the head to burns from caustic chemicals. When human error happens or a machine fails, PPE is often a worker’s best chance for walking away unscathed.
PPE can prevent amputations, serious illnesses, burns and even death. If your company doesn’t supply PPE mandated by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), it is putting employees at risk, exposing itself to legal liability and running the risk of racking up fines.
Therefore, it’s critical for you to know what PPE your company must supply so you can do your job safely.
What OSHA says about PPE and employers
OSHA guidelines say PPE “shall be provided, used, and maintained in a sanitary and reliable condition wherever it is necessary.”
The federal agency also dictates that an employer must assess all of its work areas to see if hazards are present, or are likely to be present. This examination should not ignore the chance of multiple, parallel hazards.
When hazards are discovered, the employer must then select the PPE that will protect workers and demand that each affected worker properly uses the equipment. An employer also needs to communicate PPE decisions to each affected employee, as well as provide PPE that correctly fits each individual worker.
Furthermore, OSHA dictates that employers need to supply training on how to properly use the PPE for its intended purpose. This training should inform employees what PPE is necessary for a task, how to use it, the limitations of it and the proper maintenance of the equipment.
OSHA also says employers should provide safety measures beyond basic PPE, including safeguards, engineering controls and good manufacturing practices. Safeguards may include things like insulated tools for work around exposed electrical wiring. Engineering controls are non-wearable safety measures for a workplace, such as safety showers and eyewashes. Good manufacturing practices are policies designed to maintain the general cleanliness of a work space and ensure all procedures for a job are performed safely.
Employers must supply or pay for PPE, with a few exceptions. Companies are not responsible for providing non-specialty protective footwear, non-specialty prescription safety eyewear, logging boots, standard clothing that can offer protection (such as long-sleeve shirts) or clothing used to protect from weather.
What OSHA says about PPE and employees
Employees are responsible for demonstrating a working knowledge of the PPE required for their job prior to being permitted to carry out work necessitating the PPE. Any staff members who do not understand PPE requirements must be retrained. If there are relevant changes in the work environment or a new kind of PPE is essential, all staff members who are affected must be retrained. Employees can pay for their own PPE, so long as the PPE they purchase meets or surpasses protection standards.
OSHA encourages employees to know guidelines surrounding PPE, look into any questionable practices, take additional safety measures and report any violations in safety compliance.
At Career Concepts, we regularly coordinate with both our clients and contract workers to ensure the highest safety standards are upheld. Ready for a new job? Check out what we have available today!