WARNING: Stay Out of The Hospital, Wear Your PPEminute read
Personal protective equipment (PPE) related violations accounted for three of the top 10 most frequent OSHA citations in 2022. Protective clothing, head coverings, eyewear and other safety equipment are not about the latest fashion trends: they are designed to keep you safe and compliant.
Proper use of PPE can be the difference between going home or to the hospital. PPE is often the last line of defense and needs to be part of a thorough and well-established safety program.
Real Stories, Real Consequences
A 20-year-old carpenter was installing temporary supports for roof trusses on an apartment construction project when he fell. He suffered a skull fracture and brain injury. Falls are the most common cause of injury and death for construction workers – and working without head protection invites injury.
Aside from not using PPE, there are additional conditions that lead to PPE failure and OSHA violations. Some of these conditions include:
- Poor risk assessment: Thorough PPE risk assessments are important to ensure that workers know what PPE to use, when to use it, and how it works. Employees need to know the limitations of their PPE, as well as how to put it on and take it off for safety.
- Inadequate protection: One safety tool will not cover all potential hazards; additional measures are needed. Each worker should have a personal fall protection system with an anchor, full-body harness, and lifeline. Extra precautions are excellent if they are practical.
- PPE does not fit: Body types and tasks differ. PPE must fit a worker well and it should follow the rating system for the job. The wrong PPE can be useless in an accident.
- Not enough protection: You could weld a metal pipe with just a helmet, but gloves, boots, respiration, and fire-retardant clothing are also beneficial. Lack of PPE can make a significant difference. Stock, store, and organize PPE adequately so it can be restocked, tracked, and replaced as needed.
- Outdated equipment: Inspect PPE routinely to ensure it is in good working order, clean, and still meets the required rating for the intended use. Keep track of all PPE shelf life and be aware of product recalls and defects. Dispose of equipment if it becomes contaminated or damaged.
Addressing PPE Safety
The above conditions can create a safety gap that is not worth the risk. Workplace safety violations, worker injuries and other repercussions can be avoided when it comes to PPE. Workers and workplaces can evaluate hazardous conditions and create a safety plan that includes PPE. Once a protocol is in place, provide proper training so workers will know what is expected of them.