Which PPE Kit Is Right For Your Application?
Knowing when, where, and how to properly utilize personal protective equipment (PPE) can help save lives and minimize injuries. It also helps employers maintain compliance with various laws and regulations such as OSHA 1910.132, which states:
Protective equipment, including personal protective equipment for eyes, face, head, and extremities, protective clothing, respiratory devices, and protective shields and barriers, shall be provided, used, and maintained in a sanitary and reliable condition wherever it is necessary by reason of hazards of processes or environment, chemical hazards, radiological hazards, or mechanical irritants encountered in a manner capable of causing injury or impairment in the function of any part of the body through absorption, inhalation or physical contact.
Generally, OSHA requires employers to provide PPE for employees, with few exceptions — and when employees work with their own PPE, the employer still has a responsibility to assure its adequacy. Employers should always understand the hazards that employees face and ensure that PPE is appropriate for handling the task at hand. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) refers to this initial step as the “hazard assessment.”
This assessment should include a thorough walk-through of a workplace, taking note of any specific physical or health threats. Some examples of “basic hazard categories” are:
- Compression (roll-over)
- Harmful dust
- Light (optical) Radiation
Once potential hazards have been identified, employers can then determine the correct type of PPE needed for a situation or workspace. Employers should also take appropriate actions to mitigate hazards by upgrading equipment, changing work practices, or instituting new administrative controls.
This does not eliminate the need for appropriate PPE — to run a safe, compliant operation, some amount of personal protective equipment is always necessary. The pandemic has showcased how typical PPE can address new types of hazards effectively and allow workplaces to operate efficiently, even when faced with unforeseen challenges.
Addressing Biological and Chemical Hazards with Appropriate PPE
Chemical and biological hazards are particularly critical hazards to address, and employers should take care when choosing products to make sure that they’re appropriately equipped for the specific hazard that employees might encounter. Solus Group offers a variety of PPE kits which cover a range of workplace situations and applications:
The Basic Personal Protection Kit is an ideal option to keep around for use during an emergency chemical spill. This kit comes with one pair of safety goggles, one pair of nitrile gloves, one disposable apron, and one pair of Tyvek shoe covers. This basic PPE kit fits perfectly in a glove box, and is perfect as an easy-access option in a hurry.
The PPE Standard Kit offers a few more protective options than the basic kit. This kit includes a disposable face mask, one pair of safety glasses, one pair of nitrile gloves, a disposable apron, and a set of latex overboots.
The PPE Deluxe Kit contains everything from the Standard kit, but with an additional chemical overall. Ideal for changing forklift batteries, the PPE Deluxe Kit is essential for personnel who work with chemical hazards regularly.
These kits are intended to provide adequate protection when addressing chemical and biological spills, and they’re functionally useful for establishing protocols for limiting the spread of viruses, as their components can help to stop the spread of airborne pathogens. Operations that invested in PPE prior to the pandemic found themselves prepared to function during the first months, when protective equipment was difficult to source.
Training Workers to Use PPE Safely
PPE can’t provide protection if it sits in a box — all employees who may work directly with hazardous materials should understand how the equipment functions and how to use it responsibly. This includes workers who might be tasked with cleanup or emergency response in addition to personnel who are expected to encounter hazards on a regular basis.
Some questions to ask when planning PPE training:
Can personnel work effectively while wearing the PPE? The simplest way to answer this question is to monitor employees as they wear their PPE and perform their work.
This should be a fundamental part of training; if a person works much harder or less efficiently with PPE, they’re probably using it incorrectly, and they’re much more likely to ignore equipment protocols in order to get their work done. High-quality PPE kits allow personnel to move freely and perform their work normally.
Is the PPE appropriately sized for the worker?
Regardless of whether PPE is too large or too small for the worker, a bad fit is a big problem. Employees should know how to adjust the various components of the kit to get a proper fit, and they should understand why a loose- or tight-fitting PPE doesn’t provide the same amount of protection.
Do workers understand how to dispose of PPE?
PPE must be replaced after a certain amount of hazard exposure, and some PPE should be discarded after encountering specific chemicals. Employees may also need to discard clothing that has been in contact with some hazards; a well-rounded training plan will address disposal.
Employees should also understand how to safely remove PPE. As with other aspects of training, managers should observe employees in mock scenarios to make sure that protocols are followed.
Are there protocols in place to verify the quality of training? Employees should be re-trained regularly, particularly when aspects of training change or when employees take on new or additional tasks.
Ensure that personnel engage with “refresher" training at least once per year and that they’re able to demonstrate competency with PPE.
Purchasing and utilizing personal protective equipment shouldn’t be an especially difficult process, but employers certainly need to tread carefully. With high-quality equipment and appropriate training, operations can ensure that their workers are safe — and that hazards can be mitigated efficiently, even in unexpected circumstances.