Part 2 - PPE - Equipment to consider

Part 2
PPE – Equipment to Consider

Making the workplace safe includes making a safe environment, maintaining machinery, providing instructions, procedures, training and supervision to encourage people to work safely and responsibly.

Remember, ONLY use PPE as a last resort.

If PPE is still needed after implementing all the other controls (and there will be circumstances when it is, eg head protection on most construction sites), employers have a duty to provide this for employees free of charge.

Equipment should be carefully chosen and be appropriate for its use (see selection details below) and employees must be trained to use it properly, and know how to detect and report any faults.

PPE against wooden background

To determine if and what PPE is required firstly carry out a risk assessment. A workplace risk ?assessment? should identify if hazardous substances are used or generated in the workplace.

To help identify if there could be a hazard, consider if any products used have danger labels or signs. For example

  • toxic
  • irritant
  • harmful
  • corrosive
  • very toxic

Also check if any of the products you use

  • have safety data sheets or other warnings
  • give off dust, mist, spray, splashes, fumes, smoke or gases
  • have safety information in your trade association or trade magazine
  • have people coming into contact with it by touch, breathing it in or ingesting it

You should ask the following questions:

  • Who is exposed and to what?
  • How long are they exposed for?
  • How much are they exposed to?

PPE equipment protects the user against health or safety risks at work and can include items such as safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses. It also includes respiratory protective equipment (RPE).

When selecting and using appropriate PPE it is sometimes useful to consult with those who are going to use it - if they help choose it, they will be more likely to use it!

  • Choose products which are CE marked in accordance with the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002
  • Choose equipment that suits the user – consider the size, fit and weight of the PPE.
  • If more than one item of PPE is worn at the same time, make sure they can be used together, eg wearing safety glasses may disturb the seal of a respirator, causing air leaks
  • Instruct and train people how to use it, eg train people to remove gloves without contaminating their skin. Explain why it is needed (and the potential consequences of not using it), when to use it, and any limitations.

Maintenance

PPE must be stored when not in use, eg in a dry, clean cupboard, and properly looked after - if it is reusable it must be cleaned and kept in good condition. Employees must make proper use of PPE and report its loss or destruction or any fault in it.

Always

  • use replacement parts which match the original, eg respirator filters
  • keep replacement PPE available
  • appoint and train a responsible person to carry out any maintenance
  • have a supply of appropriate disposable suits which are useful for dirty jobs where laundry costs are high, eg for visitors who need protective clothing

Types of PPE you can use:

 

Hazard

Options

Comments

 

 

 

 

Eyes

 

Chemical or metal splash, dust, projectiles, gas and vapour, radiation

Safety spectacles, goggles, face screens, faceshields, visors

Make sure the eye protection chosen has the right combination of impact/dust/splash/molten metal eye protection for the task and fits the user properly

Head and neck

 

Impact from falling or flying objects, risk of head bumping, hair getting tangled in machinery, chemical drips or splash, climate or temperature

Industrial safety helmets, bump caps, hairnets and firefighters' helmets

Some safety helmets incorporate or can be fitted with specially-designed eye or hearing protection

Don't forget neck protection, eg scarves for use during welding

Replace head protection if it is damaged

Ears

Noise – a combination of sound level and duration of exposure, very high-level sounds are a hazard even with short duration

Earplugs, earmuffs, semi-insert/canal caps

Provide the right hearing protectors for the type of work, and make sure workers know how to fit them

Choose protectors that reduce noise to an acceptable level, while allowing for safety and communication

Hands and arms

Abrasion, temperature extremes, cuts and punctures, impact, chemicals, electric shock, radiation, vibration, biological agents and prolonged immersion in water

Gloves, gloves with a cuff, gauntlets and sleeving that covers part or all of the arm

Avoid gloves when operating machines such as bench drills where the gloves might get caught

Some materials are quickly penetrated by chemicals – take care in selection, see HSE’s skin at work website

Barrier creams are unreliable and are no substitute for proper PPE

Wearing gloves for long periods can make the skin hot and sweaty, leading to skin problems. Using separate cotton inner gloves can help prevent this

Feet and legs

Wet, hot and cold conditions, electrostatic build-up, slipping, cuts and punctures, falling objects, heavy loads, metal and chemical splash, vehicles

Safety boots and shoes with protective toecaps and penetration-resistant, mid-sole wellington boots and specific footwear, eg foundry boots and chainsaw boots

Footwear can have a variety of sole patterns and materials to help prevent slips in different conditions, including oil - or chemical-resistant soles. It can also be anti-static, electrically conductive or thermally insulating

Appropriate footwear should be selected for the risks identified

Lungs

Oxygen-deficient atmospheres, dusts, gases and vapours

Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE)

Some respirators rely on filtering contaminants from workplace air. These include simple filtering facepieces and respirators and power-assisted respirators

Make sure it fits properly, eg for tight-fitting respirators (filtering facepieces, half and full masks)

There are also types of breathing apparatus which give an independent supply of breathable air, eg fresh-air hose, compressed airline and self-contained breathing apparatus

The right type of respirator filter must be used as each is effective for only a limited range of substances

Filters have only a limited life. Where there is a shortage of oxygen or any danger of losing consciousness due to exposure to high levels of harmful fumes, only use breathing apparatus – never use a filtering cartridge

You will need to use breathing apparatus in a confined space or if there is a chance of an oxygen deficiency in the work area

If you are using respiratory protective equipment, look at HSE’s publication Respiratory protective equipment at work: A practical guide

Whole body

Heat, chemical or metal splash, spray from pressure leaks or spray guns, contaminated dust, impact or penetration, excessive wear or entanglement of own clothing

Conventional or disposable overalls, boiler suits, aprons, chemical suits

The choice of materials includes flame-retardant, anti-static, chain mail, chemically impermeable, and high-visibility


Don't forget other protection, like safety harnesses or life jackets

Additionally:

  • Never allow exemptions from wearing PPE for those jobs that ‘only take a few minutes'
  • Check with your supplier on what PPE is appropriate – explain the job to them
  • If in doubt, seek further advice from a specialist adviser


For advice and supply of PPE contact the Lamberts Team on 03300 535598 or visit our website.

 

Resources

The following HSE webpage and publications provide more information on PPE:

The information contained herein is by no means complete and exhaustive but is meant as a guide to help in the considerations to be made.  For full information on PPE in the workplace see the Government website and information sheet.