PPE UseWhat is the role of management when it comes to personal protective equipment (PPE)? In most cases, management and office personnel rarely need to wear PPE. They may put on a pair of safety glasses and ear plugs when venturing out to the factory floor. It is the production group and others who work in the plant day after day who wear PPE. As such, it is often believed that it is the employees sole responsibility to wear PPE. Here are three (3) things managers can do to make sure the company has an effective PPE program.

1.  Make sure that an up-to-date assessment of the workplace has been conducted.  This assessment identifies hazardous tasks or work areas where other hazard control methods; such as, engineering and administrative controls don’t effectively take of the hazard or are not feasible.  This assessment should be reviewed periodically to make sure new hazards have not been introduced or that the current PPE selections still work.

2.  Provide training and communicate the requirements for PPE use.  Instruct employees on the PPE that they must wear for their jobs.  Most companies have general requirements that apply to most employees and have specific requirements based on the work being performed.  Eye protection may be a base requirement for all production workers, while a protective shield is needed for grinding and welding tasks.

3.  Enforce the requirements.  PPE is not always comfortable and there is a natural resistance to wearing gear like hard hats, safety shoes and protective gloves.  OSHA expects employers to not only identify what’s needed and to provide most PPE, the agency also expects employers will monitor use and take corrective steps when needed.  A well-communicated disciplinary policy is vital to having a successful PPE program.

Oh and one final point. Managers and supervisors need to sure to “walk the walk”.  They also must wear PPE in areas where it is required.  Employees follow the lead.  Make sure you and your management team lead well when it comes to PPE..

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