PPE: Performance and Comfort
Effective worker protection goes well beyond gloves and goggles
OSHA lists the general procedure for PPE selection. First, managers must become familiar with the potential hazards and the type of available PPE, as well as how well it protects against splash protection, impact protection, etc. Managers then should compare the hazards associated with the environment, such as impact velocities, masses, projectile shape, and radiation intensities, with the capabilities of the available PPE.
Next, managers should select the PPE that ensures a level of protection greater than the minimum required to protect employees from the hazards. Finally, managers should fit the user with the protective device and give instructions on care and use of the PPE. It is important that end users are aware of all warning labels for and limitations of their PPE.
Managers also need to consider the PPE’s comfort and fit. Devices that fit poorly will not afford the necessary protection. The user is more likely to continue wearing the device if it fits comfortably.
Protective devices are generally available in a variety of sizes, and workers should be careful to select the right size. OSHA also requires managers to ensure that adjustments are made on an individual basis for a comfortable fit that will maintain the protective device in the proper position.
Managers should take special care in fitting devices for eye protection against dust and chemical splash to ensure the devices are sealed to the face. Proper fitting of helmets also is important to ensure it will not fall off during work operations. Under some conditions, a chin strap might be necessary to keep the helmet on the user's head. The worker should carefully follow manufacturer's instructions when they are are available.
Jeffrey Campin is president of Camplin Environmental Services.