Personal protective equipment

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1 Personal protective equipment Personal protective equipment (PPE) is generally regarded as a last resort control option, but its importance should not be misunderstood, as it plays a crucial role in preventing and reducing many occupational fatalities, injuries and diseases. The term 'PPE' includes all equipment (including clothing offering protection against the weather) intended to protect against one or more risks to health and safety. Typically it includes gloves, goggles, masks, ear protectors, boots and shoes. Each of these will have been chosen to protect against an identified hazard during risk assessment. However PPE does not include: ordinary working clothes and uniforms not designed to provide for health or safety of workers equipment used for protection while travelling on a road (ie, motorcycle helmets) equipment used during competitive sport an offensive weapon used as self-defence or as deterrent equipment. For example, body armour or CS gas canisters as used by the police portable devices for detecting and signalling risks and nuisances. This means equipment such as film badges for detecting radiation, or personal gas, etc detectors. Personal protective equipment as a control option The 'Management of health and safety at work regulations 1999' require employers and the selfemployed to identify and assess workplace risks to health and safety, so identifying the most suitable way of reducing risks to an acceptable level. There are a number of reasons for this approach: PPE protects only the person using it, whereas measures controlling the risk at source can protect everyone at the workplace theoretical maximum levels of protection are seldom achieved using PPE, and the real level of protection is difficult to assess. Effective protection can only be achieved by PPE which is correctly fitted, maintained and properly used at all times PPE may restrict the wearer by limiting mobility, visibility or by requiring additional weight to be carried use of PPE may reduce employees' perception of the hazards they are dealing with Employers should therefore provide PPE to their employees only where there is a health and safety risk that cannot be adequately controlled by other means. PPE provision for individuals Where risks cannot be controlled by other means then PPE must: be appropriate for the risks and for the working environment take account of the user's health, ergonomic and other factors. For example: consult the wearers - they are usually best placed to know what is demanded by their jobs. There are considerable differences in physical dimensions of different workers, females, ethnic/racial groups; different sizes and contours should be available to fit wearers and be adjustable; where problems occur, advice should be sought to take account of any medical conditions

2 adequately control the risk without increasing overall risk. For example, wearing of gloves might present difficulty in some types of handling; some ear-defender designs might make it difficult to hear audible alarms; and physically-disabled people may have difficulty wearing PPE be supplied free of charge if supplied for work-related health-and-safety reasons comply with relevant legislation implementing the European Directives concerning the design and manufacture Each type of PPE is being made to harmonised European standards (CEN standards). Where PPE is supplied for the first time, it must conform with the appropriate European or British Standard. It is unlawful for suppliers to provide PPE which does not carry the CE marking. Care and maintenance of PPE Ensure that PPE is maintained in efficient working order and in good repair. An effective system of monitoring and maintenance or replacement should be set-up. This will include appropriate records of tests and examinations. Other points: a stock of proper ('CE' marked) spare parts should be available to wearers manufacturers' maintenance schedules and instructions should be followed maintenance should be carried out by competent people. There may be situations where disposable PPE is an appropriate solution; eg, wearing singleuse coveralls. PPE storage PPE should be carefully and safely stored: ensure that safe uncontaminated accommodation is provided for PPE when not in use if contaminated during use, PPE accommodation should be separate from that provided for ordinary clothing if contamination contains hazardous materials such as asbestos, PPE will need special storage ready-for-use equipment should be separate from any awaiting repair. Information, instruction and training/consultation on PPE Employees should be consulted on all matters concerning their health and safety; this includes PPE. Adequate and appropriate information, instruction and training should be made available, including: the risks the PPE will avoid or limit the purpose and manner in which the PPE is to be used action to be taken by the employee to ensure good working order, as well as hygienic condition. Any training provided should be comprehensible, and should satisfy theory, practice, duration and frequency required. A recent amendment requires that employers should organise demonstrations of the use of PPE, with regular refresher training. Use of PPE Any PPE should be properly used in accordance with employer's instructions and training, and should be returned to its storage place after use unless agreed otherwise.

3 Reporting loss or defect Employers should make arrangements to ensure loss or defects can be reported. Employees must take care of PPE and report defects or loss of equipment. Specific types of PPE HSE guidance provides general information about types of PPE used in industry, but it doesn't cover specialised and less-used items. Detailed information should be obtained from suppliers. Potential users should help select equipment and more than one model should be made available to them. All newly-supplied PPE must comply with the 'Personal protective equipment (EC Directive) regulations' (as amended), and the relevant BS/EN standard, and must be 'CE' marked. Head and scalp protection All forms of head and scalp protection must be suitable, correctly fitted and have an easily adjustable headband, nape and chin strap where appropriate. The relevant standards are BS EN 397 and BS EN There are four primary purposes of head protection, to protect: the head in falls against falling objects, impact with fixed objects, or wielded weapons the head by offering thermal insulation against entanglement and laceration to the head. Hair-nets and caps are used for hygiene reasons, and to protect against scalping/entanglement particularly on machinery where injuries are still numerous. Eye protection Protects the eyes against impact, cuts, splashes, mists and sprays The relevant standards are: BS 7028 Guide to selection of eye protection for industrial and other uses BS EN 166 Specification for eye protectors. Eye protection must be regularly cleaned as dirty lenses lead to poor vision and may contribute to accidents. Scratched, pitted or cracked lens should be replaced. Where the user would normally wear corrective lenses, and is expected to wear eye protection on a regular and frequent basis then any goggles, glasses etc should meet the user s prescription requirements. Hearing protection Assessments under the 'Noise at work regulations 1989' determine whether personal ear protectors are required in the workplace. The relevant standard for the ear protectors is BS EN 352. Hand and arm protection Hands play a leading role in most occupations and are exposed to a wide range of hazards. Risks include cuts, abrasions, heat, cold, chemical contamination, vibration, burns, infection, skin irritation and dermatitis. Before selecting hand and arm protection, the hierarchy of control measures must be followed. Gloves and gauntlets provide the main form of hand protection against a range of industrial hazards:

4 Manual handling Risk of piercing by abrasive, sharp or pointed objects when handling goods: gloves should not normally be worn where there is a risk of them being caught in machinery usually made from leather, chain-mail, rubber, knitted Kevlar or stout canvas. Chemical Gauntlets should be worn where hands and arms may come into contact with toxic or corrosive substances, for example when cleaning-up chemical spills, or mixing and dispensing pesticide formulations. Foot protection A wide range of safety footwear is available providing protection against many hazards to the feet including crushing, slipping, piercing, temperatures, electricity, chemicals, cutting, and chopping. The relevant standard for safety footwear is BS EN 345. Body protection The regulations definition of PPE excludes ordinary working clothes and uniforms which have no specific protection for the wearer. However, body protection may be required for extended periods of work outdoors to protect against the weather, and to ensure high visibility during work where there is mixed vehicle and pedestrian traffic (see BS EN 471 Specification for high-visibility warning clothing ). When choosing body protection the following factors should be considered: comfort, for example, due to sweating cost and practicality of cleaning emergency procedures, such as buoyancy or the need to be identified or spotted in hazardous situations level of hygiene control required level of personal contamination personal preference restriction of movement storage temperature and humidity fluctuation whether the process is wet or dry. Other types of protection Height and access protection This range of protective equipment is very wide and includes body harnesses, fall-arrest systems, rescue lifting and lowering harnesses, energy absorbers and lanyards. Such PPE is specialised and requires thorough training by competent persons, as it is often only used in emergency.

5 Do not forget to consider how window cleaners will make safe access to the external surfaces of the windows for which you are responsible - this is likely to require both a harness and a series of secure fixing points. Skin care: 'barrier' creams Some occupations are prone to skin disease caused by contact with substances such as cutting oils, chemicals, degreasants, glass-fibre and some horticultural agents (eg, slug pellets). The main condition is dermatitis, in a variety of forms. The use of 'barrier' creams, although traditional in many occupations, should not be considered as personal protective equipment. It provides negligible protection and is unlikely to be effective in preventing contact dermatitis. A properly-implemented skin-care hygiene programme, including emollient and skin-conditioning creams can help replace the natural skin oil removed by degreasants and solvents. Before undertaking this, advice should be sought from independent skin-care specialists or a dermatologist. v2.1

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