PPE: Providing Protection, Keeping Workers Safe
Many maintenance and engineering tasks present dangers to front-line technicians. To minimize the possibility of personal injury as much as possible, managers must ensure technicians have access to and use the right combination of personal protective equipment (PPE), including gloves, eyewear, and hand and foot protection.
Testing and maintenance of electrical systems often present the most obvious safety hazards, including arc-flash, but activities related to plumbing system maintenance and grounds also can endanger workers. By understanding the nature of such risks, managers can more successfully specify PPE products to protect workers.
Safety: The Big Picture
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that employers furnish "a place of employment which is free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees." This standard requires employers to identify and address workplace hazards. Institutional and commercial facilities often use PPE to reduce employee exposure to hazards.
OSHA specifically regulates the use of PPE under standard 1910.132. OSHA requires PPE for employees exposed to hazards created from processes or from hazards in the work environment. PPE used to protect workers includes head, eye and face protection, respirators, hand and foot protection, protective clothing, and protection from electrical hazards.
Managers also should be aware that OSHA regulations specify that the use of PPE must be the last option for controlling workplace hazards. OSHA mandates that employers first use engineering and administrative controls to reduce or eliminate hazards before considering. When managers determine engineering and administrative controls are not feasible or effective in reducing these hazardous exposures to acceptable levels, they are required to determine if PPE is advisable to protect their workers.