Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) protects workers from workplace hazards. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to provide PPE to their employees and ensure its proper use. However, despite the importance of PPE, many workers and employers have questions about its use and effectiveness. In this article, we will answer the top five questions asked when searching for PPE related to occupational safety, using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and OSHA requirements.
What is PPE, and why is it important?
Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE, is a type of equipment that protects workers from occupational hazards that can cause injuries or illnesses. PPE includes safety glasses, hard hats, gloves, respirators, and safety shoes. Employers must provide PPE to their employees to ensure their safety and reduce the risk of workplace accidents.
According to the BLS, in 2020, there were approximately 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private industry employers. Many of these injuries and illnesses could have been prevented by using proper PPE.
What types of PPE are required by OSHA?
OSHA requires employers to provide PPE to their employees and ensure its proper use. The specific types of PPE required depend on the hazards present in the workplace. For example, employers must provide appropriate gloves, goggles, or face shields if workers are exposed to chemicals. If workers are exposed to noise, employers must provide hearing protection, such as earplugs or earmuffs.
OSHA provides detailed guidance on the types of PPE required for different hazards in its Personal Protective Equipment Standard, 29 CFR 1910.132. Employers must also train employees on the proper use and maintenance of PPE.
How adequate is PPE at protecting workers?
The effectiveness of PPE depends on several factors, including the type of PPE used, the hazard present, and how well the PPE fits the user. Generally, PPE is most effective when used with other hazard control measures, such as engineering or administrative controls.
However, when used correctly, PPE can significantly reduce the risk of workplace injuries and illnesses. According to OSHA, properly selected and used PPE can reduce the risk of injury by 90 percent.
Who pays for PPE?
Under OSHA’s PPE standard, employers must provide PPE to their employees at no cost, including replacing PPE that has been lost, damaged, or worn out. However, employers are not required to provide certain types of PPE, such as ordinary clothing, items used solely for protection from the weather, or items used solely for protection from common workplace hazards.
What are some common PPE violations cited by OSHA?
OSHA frequently cites employers for PPE violations during inspections. Some common PPE violations include:
- Failing to provide PPE to employees
- Failing to ensure that PPE fits properly
- Failing to provide training to employees on the proper use of PPE
- Failing to replace damaged or worn-out PPE
- Allowing employees to use damaged or defective PPE
PPE is an essential tool for protecting workers from workplace hazards. OSHA requires employers to provide PPE to their employees and ensure its proper use. When used correctly, PPE can significantly reduce the risk of workplace injuries and illnesses. Employers should provide appropriate PPE, train employees on its proper use, and regularly inspect and replace worn-out or damaged PPE to ensure a safe workplace.