What you need to know about PPE
According to SafeWork Australia, Personal Protective Equipment, also commonly referred to as PPE, is the term used to describe any item or article of clothing that is used to reduce the risks to a worker’s health and help maintain their safety.
Today I want to break this down by explaining:
- General requirements relating to PPE
- Mandatory and task specific PPE requirements.
General requirements relating to PPE are simple and straight forward, or are they?
How many workers on site are constantly reminded:
“Put your helmet on!”
“Wear your safety glasses!”
“You need your full-face shield when grinding.”
You wonder how effective the site induction process is at times when workers are observed working not long after the induction.
General PPE requirements apply across construction sites. PCBU’s (person conducting a business or undertaking) must provide PPE to workers:
- Suitable, having regard to the nature of the work and any hazard associated with the work
- Suitable, regarding size and fit and reasonably comfortable for the worker who is to use or wear it
- Maintained, repaired, or replaced, including clean and hygienic and in good working order.
- PCBU must provide the worker with information, training, and instruction – proper use and wearing, storage and maintenance
- Workers must use or wear the PPE in accordance with any information, training, or instruction
- Workers must not intentionally misuse or damage the PPE
- Workers must inform the PCBU of any damage, defect to PPE.
For a more specific reference the information may be found in the WHS Regulation 2017, Division 5 Personal Protective Equipment.
Most construction sites will meet this legal requirement as a minimum through implementation of Mandatory and Task specific PPE requirements.
Mandatory PPE generally include:
- Safety helmets
- Steel capped boots
- Hi visibility vest or clothing.
Task specific PPE generally include:
- Hearing protection (Ear plugs, Earmuffs or similar)
- Hand protection (gloves)
- Eye protection (safety glasses)
- Face protection (full face shield)
- Breathing protection (face mask, respirator)
- Body protection (long sleeve, long pants or similar).
Task specific PPE requirements may be found also from user manuals, product information and the like. For example, when using a circular saw the user manual has a safety section explaining the hazards and the PPE requirements.
According to Safe Work Australia, the role of “PCBUs is to ensure PPE is used and worn by the worker, so far as is reasonably practicable and is maintained, repaired or replaced to minimise risk to the worker who uses it.
Need help with a PPE assessment? I am one call away
My name is Sean Brown and I am the founder of SMB Safety. In the industry for over 25 years, I help construction based businesses identify safety risks and mitigate them through better worksafe systems.
The starting point is you and I having a no-obligation telephone call about your concerns and objectives. I can very quickly help you identify gaps and clear next steps forward.