The Importance of Personal Protective Safety Equipment in the Workplace

the importance of personal protective safety equipment in the workplace

The Importance of Personal Protective Safety Equipment.

The most important thing is any workplace is safety. This is especially true in places that work with dangerous equipment. 

This is why personal protective equipment is so crucial. These materials help protect workers from common injuries.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), there are over 4,000 fatal workplace injuries every year.

Many of these deaths are considered preventable. This means they might have been prevented with proper precautions and safety procedures.

Employers must take steps to make sure their workers have the proper safety materials available. This shows employees that their bosses care about their health and well-being. 

These materials might even end up saving a life. 

So let's get into it. Here's everything you need to know about making sure your workplace has the proper safety equipment. 

What is personal safety equipment?

Personal safety equipment is any equipment that workers use to limit their exposure to potential hazards.

The purpose of personal equipment is to protect employees from potential injuries and illnesses. For example, some equipment protects workers from chemical hazards. Others are designed for electrical or mechanical dangers. 

Employers must provide safety equipment to comply with workers' rights to a safe work environment. It's the employer's responsibility to make sure that employees have access to and use protective equipment.

What equipment do I need?

OSHA requires workplaces to keep personal safety equipment on hand, and to train their employees how to use the equipment.

Additionally, employers are responsible for ensuring that their employees use the equipment consistently.

The equipment you must provide depends on your particular workplace and employees. Every industry has its own standards for what employers must provide in terms of safety equipment.

Basic equipment 

That said, not all equipment is industry specific. Some materials are more or less standard to any potentially hazardous work environment. 

For example, workers should always wear protective clothing. For instance, coveralls are an important way to keep workers covered in durable, breathable material. 

All shoes should be close-toed, and made out of a sturdy material. This will protect workers in case of a spill, and can help prevent injury from dropped items. 

It's also important to protect the most vulnerable parts of the workers' bodies. Safety glasses protect the eyes from a variety of hazards, including chemical splashes, sparks, and debris.

Likewise, hard hats and helmets should always be worn to protect workers from head injuries. 

These basic materials provide a good baseline of protective equipment for any industry. 

The right equipment for your industry

Basic standards for safety equipment are a good place to start. That said, it's also important to provide workers with equipment designed to protect them in certain industries, or for certain jobs. 

For instance, certain jobs in construction, or with hazardous materials, require personal respirators. These help workers to breathe without inhaling dangerous chemicals or debris. 

Many pieces of protective equipment are meant to be preventative. However, there are also materials that should be kept on hand in case of exposure or injury.

For instance, any work place where with hazardous material should have eye wash stations and chemical showers available. These allow workers to wash away harmful chemicals. Early washing can prevent serious damage. 

Additionally, not all protective equipment protects workers from the materials they work with.

Take construction sites, for example. These require signs and safety barriers to protect workers from oncoming traffic. 

These kinds of industry specific materials can help protect your workers from unique hazards at their workplace. 

Are you still what kind of equipment you need for your workplace? If so, OSHA has a comprehensive list that covers the legal requirements.

You can even schedule an appointment with OSHA. A representative will inspect your workplace, and ensure that you're in compliance. 

The right equipment for your employees

It is important to make sure your workplace has the proper equipment for the job at hand. It's also important, however, to make sure you provide the right equipment for your specific employees.

Many employers assume that safety equipment is one size fits all.

In reality, however, women often need special equipment that is optimized for their bodies. Otherwise, they can end up with ill-fitting materials that won't provide proper protection. 

Traditionally, occupations with hazardous work environments have been dominated by men. For instance, construction, manufacturing, and mining have long been male-dominated fields. 

These industries, however, have changed. Recently, previously male dominated fields have been hiring more women

It is wonderful that these fields are becoming more diverse. That said, this shift means that many of these fields are unprepared to provide women with proper protective equipment.

In other words, a lot of standard protective equipment doesn't fit women well, because it was designed for men. As more women move into fields that require safety equipment, employers will need to ensure that these workers are properly protected.

Gloves or coveralls that are too baggy can endanger female employees. Ill fitting clothes decrease a worker's mobility. They can also get caught on equipment. 

These difficulties may prompt some women to make their own alterations to their protective equipment. This is never a good idea, as this equipment will no longer meet industry standards.

For these reasons, it is critical for employers to provide female employees with safety materials that fit them properly. 

How can I make sure the equipment is used properly?

OSHA does not just require that workers have access to proper protective equipment. The organization also requires that employers train workers how to properly use this equipment.

It's the employer's responsibility to ensure employees are familiar with safety standards and precautions. Additionally, it is the employer's job to enforce the proper use of all safety equipment. 

Training employees

To fulfill this requirement, make sure to train each new employee in the proper use of personal protective equipment. This training should cover what kind of equipment is necessary, and in what context it is necessary.

Employers should also teach their workers how to properly use all safety equipment, how to care for the equipment, and how to maintain it. This is particularly important, because workers must be able to determine when equipment is worn, and needs to be replaced. 

Finally, it's also important to teach workers the limitations of personal protective equipment. It's crucial that workers understand that protective equipment is one of several precautions that should be taken to avoid workplace hazards.

Additionally, after training employees in the use of protective equipment, make sure to check for comprehension.

OSHA requires that employers train their employees in language they can understand. For this reason, simply training employees how to use protective equipment will not fulfill your obligations to your workers' rights. 

Instead, you must make sure that you train your employees in a way that ensures their understanding.

Implementing a protective equipment program

Workplace safety is extremely important, and the standards are constantly changing and updating.

For this reason, it is insufficient to simply train employees in the use of protective equipment when they are hired. Instead, employers should implement a comprehensive safety equipment program.

A good protective equipment program should have three main goals.

(1) The program should train new employees in the use of safety equipment. Additionally, employers should conduct periodic knowledge checks to ensure their employees' understanding.

(2) The program should monitor the ongoing use safety equipment. This includes enforcing the use of equipment with all employees.

(3) The program should investigate the effectiveness of the equipment, and see opportunities for improvement. For instance, employers should ensure that all equipment is in good condition, and should replace it when necessary.

Remember, safety cannot be guaranteed with a one-time event. Instead, maintaining a safe working environment requires continuous monitoring and improvement.

Taking steps like these will help make sure that your workplace provides a safe environment for all your employees. 

Making safety a priority

Safety standards are more than a legal requirement, or standard. They are good business practice.

There's a reason that "Safety first" is such a commonly used phrase. 

Without safety, your workplace will not be able to perform any of the functions it is supposed to. 

Personal safety equipment is an essential item to keep on the safety checklist. These materials will help protect your workers from common workplace hazards, and will help them avoid unnecessary injuries. 

With the help of this guide, you can implement a comprehensive personal protection equipment program. This will keep your employees up to date on the most important safety standards.