If you use or manufacture chemical substances at your workplace, or carry out processes which may cause harm to health to those who are exposed to them, then you are obliged by law to adequately control the risks to employees.
Dusts, gases or fumes that you breathe in, or liquids, gels or powders that come into contact with your eyes or skin when working, might jeopardize your health. These hazardous materials can be found everywhere; from paints and cleaners to flour dust, solder fume or waste. Another harmful factor is micro-organisms, which can cause infection, allergic reaction or even death, if they are toxic.
In order to prevent ill health caused by these substances, employers must assess their workplace to identify if hazards are present, or could be present, decide how workers might be exposed to them and take the proper measures. One of these protective measures is the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). It, also, refers to any addition or accessory equipment that serves this purpose. Before choosing the right PPE, you should take into account the following factors:
- their suitability for the risks involved and workplace conditions,
- their harmonization with existing legislation,
- adequate protection against the risk,
- avoid creating new risks,
- personal protective equipment should properly fit to user’s needs,
- health status of persons using this PPE
- the working needs and the demands made to the user,
- compatibility between personal protective equipment’s, if they are more than one.
The employers are obliged to:
- Provide their workers with the suitable personal protective equipment for eyes, face, head, and extremities, protective clothing, respiratory devices, and protective shields and barriers.
- Inform, instruct and train their workers on PPE.
- Ensure that these PPE are maintained in a sanitary and reliable condition.
Employees shall not pay for the PPE they use, but they have to assure their adequacy, including proper maintenance, and sanitation of such equipment. They must follow the instructions and report any defective or damaged personal protective equipment to the responsible person. Each affected employee shall be trained to know at least:
- When PPE is necessary;
- What PPE is necessary;
- How to properly don, doff, adjust, and wear PPE;
- The limitations of the PPE;
- The proper care, maintenance, useful life and disposal of the PPE.
Protecting the health of your employees will save you time, money and extra trouble.