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The Importance of PPE Inspections

February 25, 2021

While workplace health and safety programs are a continuous priority for companies and organizations around the world, there are many opportunities for improvement.

Here in Canada, statistics tell us there were 1,207 workplace fatalities recorded in 2018; along with 264,438 claims accepted for lost time due to a work-related injury or disease.

These numbers only include what was reported and accepted by Canadian compensation boards, which suggests the total number of impacted workers across the country is even higher.

Even though protecting your employees is of the utmost importance, it’s not always possible to sufficiently remove or control hazards that can cause serious injuries or illnesses.

That’s why personal protective equipment, commonly known as PPE, is a vital part of an effective health and safety program.

PPE is worn to minimize contact or exposure to harmful physical, chemical, electrical, biological or other workplace hazards.

Examples of PPE include approved footwear, hard hats, glasses, gloves, goggles, face shields, hearing protection, and harnesses.

Over the past year, many companies have also mandated employees to wear fitted masks or gloves to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

PPE should fit properly and comfortably, be readily available, and utilized whenever and wherever necessary.

Employees should also be trained on how to properly put on and remove PPE, and be informed of any equipment limitations.

Proactive approach

There are several causes for PPE losing their effectiveness – including routine usage and wear, a build-up of dirt or grime, exposure to chemicals, or improper storage.

Using worn out or malfunctioning PPE could have serious consequences, providing employees with a false sense of security while putting them at unnecessary risk.

That’s why careful and regular PPE inspections are so important.

Inspections provide a proactive approach to identify issues or problems with PPE before accidents happen.

A piece of equipment might need cleaning or repairs, while another might need periodic testing to ensure effectiveness.

An item not performing up to specifications needs to be replaced. In doing so, the obsolete item needs be discarded following proper procedures so that it won’t be inadvertently reused.

Completing detailed inspection checklists can help confirm PPE receive proper care and scheduled maintenance (and provide a written record for compliance reporting).

PPE inspections play an important role in workplace health and safety, helping minimize workers’ exposure to workplace hazards and reducing the severity of injuries or illnesses.

Check with your local regulatory body for specific PPE requirements and guidelines.

Sources:

CCOHS:

https://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/prevention/ppe/designin.html

https://www.ccohs.ca/newsletters/hsreport/issues/2021/01/ezine.html

https://www.ccohs.ca/events/mourning/

IHSA:

https://www.ihsa.ca/topics_hazards/ppe.aspx

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COVID-19Health & SafetyWorkplace Safety