October 01, 2014

6 Things You Might Not Know About PPE

What is Personal Protective Equipment?

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is specialized clothing or quipment worn by an employee for protection against infectious materials. From Hazard Assessment to selecting proper equipment, The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), has specific requirements for employers to adhere to in order to remain compliant.

While images of gloves, masks, gowns, and goggles may come to mind before PPE finds its way into the medical, dental, and healthcare facilities, there are critical factors that affect how PPE is selected

Here are 6 things you might not know about PPE:

1. PPE is the last line of defense, not the first, when it comes to protecting staff members.

When it comes to establishing controls in the workplace to decrease hazards, first comes elimination, then substitution, then engineering controls, administrative controls, work practice controls, and last is personal protective equipment. PPE falls to the bottom because it does not eliminate a hazard at its source.

2. The use of PPE goes back hundreds of years.

As far back as the first century, there have been cases of personal protective equipment used for dust and respiratory protection1. As OSHA standards have evolved over the years, personal protective equipment regulations have also evolved and continue to evolve today.

3. OSHA’s General PPE Standard is 29 CFR 1910.132.

Federal OSHA’s 29 CFR 1910.132 requires that employers systematically assess the workplace to identify hazards and subsequently to select PPE to effectively protect workers from those identified hazards.  This thorough evaluation looks at work processes, tasks, and equipment to identify safety and health hazards throughout an entire facility. 

4. Employers must provide PPE to employees.

OSHA states that employers must supply required PPE items to employees when a hazard is present2.

5. Training on PPE is imperative and required.

OSHA requires that employers provide training to each employee who has been required (by way of the hazard assessment) to use PPE.  

6. PPE is a point-of-contact control.

Safety controls fall into two broad categories. Pre-contact controls remove any given hazard before a worker comes into contact with it and include the processes of elimination, substitution, engineering controls, and administrative controls. The other category is point-of-contact control, and it includes work practice controls and PPE because the hazard is not able to be removed and the point-of-contact control reduces the likelihood of exposure to hazards. 

OSHA requires that employers first conduct a hazard assessment, select PPE based upon the findings of the hazard assessment, and then provide training to each employee who has been required (by way of the hazard assessment) to use PPE.

The Steri-Safe OSHA Compliance Program is designed to help you navigate the requirements for personal protective equipment. It will provide essential information on PPE for your facility. 

Current and future Steri-Safe OSHA Compliance Select and Preferred customers should take advantage of the Steri-Safe Safety Meeting Library. It includes topics such as Personal Protective Equipment, among other topics for Risk Reduction.  

MyStericycle is making it easier for Stericycle customers to manage Regulated Medical Waste and Compliance Services.  Go to MyStericycle.com to learn more. 

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