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OSHA - Personal protective equipment

image Joann Natarajan, Compliance Assistance Specialist, OSHA, Austin, TX

AUSTIN - Personal protective equipment, or PPE, is designed to protect workers from serious workplace injuries or illnesses resulting from contact with chemical, radiological, physical, electrical, mechanical, or other workplace hazards. Besides face shields, safety glasses, hard hats, and safety shoes, protective equipment includes a variety of devices and garments such as goggles, coveralls, gloves, vests, earplugs, and respirators.

 

 

    As an employer, you must assess your workplace to determine if hazards are present that require the use of personal protective equipment. If such hazards are present, you must select protective equipment and require workers to use it, communicate your protective equipment selection decisions to your workers, and select personal protective equipment that properly fits your workers.

    You must also train workers who are required to wear personal protective equipment on how to do the following:

• Use protective equipment properly,
• Be aware of when personal protective equipment is necessary
• Know what kind of protective equipment is necessary
• Understand the limitations of personal protective equipment in protecting workers from injury
• Put on, adjust, wear, and take off personal protective equipment and
• Maintain protective equipment properly.

    Hard hats can protect your workers from head impact, penetration injuries, and electrical injuries such as those caused by falling or flying objects, fixed objects, or contact with electrical conductors. Also, OSHA regulations require employers to ensure that workers cover and protect long hair to prevent it from getting caught in machine parts such as belts and chains.

    In addition to foot guards and safety shoes, leggings (e.g., leather, aluminized rayon, or other appropriate material) can help prevent injuries by protecting workers from hazards such as falling or rolling objects, sharp objects, wet and slippery surfaces, molten metals, hot surfaces, and electrical hazards.

    Besides spectacles and goggles, personal protective equipment such as special helmets or shields, spectacles with side shields, and faceshields can protect workers from the hazards of flying fragments, large chips, hot sparks, optical radiation, splashes from molten metals, as well as objects, particles, sand, dirt, mists, dusts, and glare.

    Wearing earplugs or earmuffs can help prevent damage to hearing. Exposure to high noise levels can cause irreversible hearing loss or impairment as well as physical and psychological stress. Earplugs made from foam, waxed cotton, or fiberglass wool are self-forming and usually fit well. A professional should fit your workers individually for molded or preformed earplugs. Clean earplugs regularly, and replace those you cannot clean.

    Workers exposed to harmful substances through skin absorption, severe cuts or lacerations, severe abrasions, chemical burns, thermal burns, and harmful temperature extremes will benefit from hand protection.

natarajan.joann@dol.gov
512-374-0271 x232


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