Personal Protective Equipment Risk Assessment
Personal Protective Equipment protects workers from injury or sickness caused by their work activities where other controls have not been available. Employers have basic duties concerning the provision and use of PPE at work.
PPE is generally defined as ‘all equipment (including clothing affording protection against the weather) which is intended to be worn or held by a person at work and which protects him against one or more risks to his health or safety’, eg safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, highvisibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses.
PPE should be considered as a ‘last resort’ when other control measures have been considered and either implemented or proven to be ineffective. There is a recognized hierarchy of controls within Health and Safety which shows that other controls must be considered before the control of personal protective equipment.
The hierarchy has six categories as follows:
1. Eliminate hazard at source, e.g.
Øuse a non-hazardous substance instead of a hazardous one
Østop using a noisy machine
2. Reduce hazard at source, e.g.
Øuse a substance less hazardous than the one used at present
Øreplace a noisy machine with a quieter one
3. Remove person from hazard, e.g.
Øreplace person with machine
Ødo not allow people to work near noisy machines
4. Contain hazard by enclosure, e.g.
Øisolate the hazard
Øput soundproofing round noisy machine
5. Reduce employee exposure, e.g.
Øo four people exposed for two hours each, not one person for eight hours applies to exposure to substances or noise
6. Personal protective equipment (PPE), e.g.
Øgloves, eye protection for substances and ear defenders for noise
PPE should be included in a risk assessment of the activity or task being undertaken. Both employer and employee must understand the equipment’s purpose and its limitations.
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