PPE Guidance in Your Practice
OSHA requires that Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should be worn to minimize exposure to hazards that cause serious workplace injuries and illnesses.
Experts say that close to 90% of workplace injuries could be prevented or minimized by wearing the proper PPE. Employee injuries can trigger higher insurance costs and OSHA inspections and penalties, as well as employee downtime, replacing injured workers, and so on.
What is required by OSHA?
- When there is an occupational exposure, the employer shall provide at no cost to the employee, appropriate PPE such as the following:
- Gloves, gowns, lab coats, face masks, eye protection, pocket masks, etc.
- PPE is considered as appropriate if it does not allow blood or OPIM to pass through or reach employee’s work clothes, skin, eyes, or mouth under normal conditions of use and for the duration of time the PPE will be used
- The employer must make sure the appropriate PPE is in place at the worksite and in the appropriate sizes
- This includes hypoallergenic gloves or other similar alternatives for employees who are allergic to gloves normally provided
- The employer shall clean, launder, dispose, repair, and replace PPE at no cost to the employee
- The employer must ensure the employee uses the appropriate PPE
- Training, training, training!
Types of PPE
- Gloves: Gloves must be worn when it can be reasonably anticipated the employee may have hand contact with blood or OPIM, mucous membranes, and non-intact skin
- Face protection: Face protection includes masks, face shields, and eye protection devices. These must be worn whenever splashes, sprays, spatters, or droplets of blood or OPIM can be reasonably anticipated
- Protective body clothing: Protective body clothing includes gowns and lab coats. These must be worn in occupational exposure situations, which will depend on the tasks and degree of exposure anticipated
- Head and shoe coverings: Head and shoe coverings must be worn when gross contamination can be reasonably anticipated
How to ensure proper PPE usage
Having a comprehensive PPE program in place in your practice can help keep you in compliance and prevent employee injuries. This program should include the following:
- Worksite Hazard Assessment
- Personal Protective Equipment Hazard Assessment
- PPE Training
Completing thorough Worksite and PPE Hazard Assessments are especially important; if you miss hazards in your practice, you won’t select the proper PPE and workers will be exposed without protection.
When completing your Hazard Assessments and evaluating your practice, keep in mind that even if your employees aren’t getting injured doesn’t mean that hazards don’t exist. It’s only a matter of time before someone is injured when exposed to unsafe conditions!
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