HomeBlogThe importance of personal protective equipment (PPE) management
The importance of personal protective equipment (PPE) management
Posted on March 16 2021
Reading time: 6 minutes
PPE is personal protective equipment provided to workers to protect them from threats to their health and safety.
Depending on the field of work, various types of personal protective equipment may be used.
What is PPE?
Personal protective equipment, also known as PPE, is an essential tool for ensuring the safety and health of workers in various work environments. This equipment is designed to protect the most vulnerable parts of the body, such as the eyes, ears, lungs, hands and feet, from occupational hazards such as impacts, cuts, burns, toxic inhalation, radiation and other dangers.
In a work environment, it is crucial that employees wear the appropriate personal protective equipment to prevent occupational injuries and illnesses and to ensure their safety and well-being while performing their jobs.
In the field of construction, for example, we often see boots and safety glasses as part of the equipment used.
In the healthcare field, you can often find employees wearing gloves, masks, a protective gown and a cap for their hair.
Personal protective equipment can even be found in the sports sector, as seen in rock climbing, where helmets, belays, harnesses and more are used to protect people.
Types of PPE in companies
The type of protective equipment that an organization must acquire varies depending on the type of business and the potential dangers at play.
It is important to note that this equipment does not guarantee total protection and is only intended to reduce risks.
It is considered as a complementary protection measure to the safety instructions already established.
There are 3 categories of personal protective equipment:
PPE used for minor risks
More specific PPE used for higher risks
PPE for serious risks
As a general rule, an employer must ensure optimal use of personal protective equipment.
It must be provided free of charge to employees and it must be monitored regularly to ensure that no equipment is defective in the event that a crisis arises.
Many companies decide to build a PPE management plan to prepare for any eventuality and ensure they have the right tools on hand for different hazards they may be exposed to.
How do you design an PPE management program?
A PPE management program will allow you to define the risks, the personal protective equipment needs and their characteristics. You will be able to create a plan that fits your needs and budget.
This plan must also include maintenance and renewal periods, as the implementation of a PPE program will be useless if your protective equipment is defective at the time of heightened risk.
It is strongly recommended that you assign the management of your PPE management program to a responsible person within your team to avoid ambiguity.
Key steps in designing a program:
1. Identify and assess hazards:
You need to target the threats you may face and the risks you may be exposed to in your workplace.
2. Define personal protective equipment needs:
This is the step where you will identify the needs based on the previously identified hazards, but also based on the working conditions and workers.
Protective equipment must be chosen that is appropriate for each individual on the team.
3. Determine and acquire personal protective equipment:
Once you have made your choices, you will need to acquire your personal protective equipment keeping in mind that it must meet your needs, be effective, comfortable and reliable.
4. Establish the role of PPE:
All members need to know when PPE is to be used, by whom and how.
5. Track PPE:
This step is arguably one of the most crucial steps to ensuring your PPE efforts pay off. Once you’ve acquired the PPE, you will need to implement regular monitoring of personal protective equipment.
This includes inspection, cleaning, maintenance and repair of equipment. All PPE must be properly stored in a secure location.
This will allow you to keep track of your PPE, have a reminder at the time of maintenance and inspections, avoid stock-outs and make it easier to track budgets.
6. Inform employees:
Employees should be educated about the risks and features of personal protective equipment.
The employer should provide training so that employees know exactly how to use each piece of equipment.
They should also all know about the risks and why one piece of equipment is more suitable than another to address that risk.
7. Test the program:
This is where the plan should be evaluated for its effectiveness and should be tested to ensure that all members know what to do and have all the necessary PPE management tools.
The importance of tracking Personal Protective Equipment:
To ensure everyone’s safety, audits must be done on a regular basis.
Their purpose is to:
Check the condition of PPE in stock or in use
Ensure that PPE that needs to be replaced is replaced
Ensure that PPE is being used according to instructions
With this in mind, it is essential to keep tabs on your PPE.
But how can I do this?
Can a simple Excel file help with PPE management in your company?
The answer is no.
Why is Excel not sufficient for PPE management?
At first glance, Excel may seem like an interesting tool to keep track of the maintenance dates of your personal protective equipment.
While it is possible to do this in Excel, you can quickly lose track.
Especially if you have several pieces of equipment to manage.
Given the important role protective equipment plays in the safety of those involved, it is crucial to have a record for each piece of protective equipment that displays the complete history from the moment it was acquired.
You also need to ensure that your entire team has the information from each step of your PPE management plan.
We are never safe from an incident and unfortunately, if only one person in the company has access to the Excel file and that person is not present during a crisis, you will find yourself a real headache.
Protect your business investments, increase your management performance and limit your time and material losses. Offer you a simple way of having access to important data in the system when you need it.