Assessment and Selection of Personal Protective Equipment in the Workplace.

Assessment & Selection of Personal Protective Equipment


Before choosing any Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) he is required to provide, the employer (or self-employed person) must ensure that an Assessment is made to determine whether it is suitable.

The Assessment

The assessment to be made before selecting an item of PPE must include:

  • an assessment of any health or safety risks which have not been avoided by other means;
  • the definition of characteristics which the PPE must have to be effective against these risks, taking into account any risks which the PPE itself may create;
  • comparison of the required characteristics with the characteristics of PPE available.

The assessment need not be recorded in simple, straightforward cases where it can easily be repeated and explained. However, it should be recorded in more complex cases and the record kept readily accessible to those who need to know the results.

The assessment must be reviewed whenever there is a reason to doubt its validity or there has been a significant change in the matters to which it relates.

Suitability

In assessing the suitability of personal protective equipment (PPE), the employer (or self-employed person) must at least ensure that it is appropriate for the risk(s) involved and the conditions where the risk(s) can arise. This assessment should also take account of any ergonomic requirements and the state of health of the user(s).

The equipment must be capable of fitting the user correctly without exceeding the range of adjustments for which it is designed, and so far as is practicable, it must be effective to prevent or adequately control the risk(s) involved without increasing overall risk.

Finally, the employer should ensure that the equipment carries the CE mark (which indicates that a model sample meets EU product directives) and that the item in question in fact conforms to the EU product directives, and (where applicable), that it is compatible with other items of PPE worn.

Ensuring Suppliers' Compliance with the PPE (Safety) Regulations 1992

Manufacturers and suppliers of personal protective equipment (PPE) must comply with the requirements of EU product directives in order to apply the CE mark. The PPE (Safety) Regulations 1992 implement the EU directive on personal protective equipment. Other EU directives may also apply to certain items of PPE.

To satisfy himself that the equipment meets EU product directives, the employer should do one or more of the following:

  • obtain a copy of the producer's Declaration of Conformity which supports the CE mark; and/or
  • inspect the producer's Technical Files which support the Declaration of Conformity; and/or
  • arrange for the testing of one or more samples in the batch from which he will be supplied.

Ensuring Suppliers' Compliance with Health and Safety Duties

Designers, manufacturers, importers and suppliers of personal protective equipment for use at work have duties under section 6 of the Health and Safety at Work Act to ensure PPE is safe. These include matters such as research, testing and provision of information and revised information.

To satisfy himself on questions of the safety of any item of PPE under consideration, the employer should check the supplier's compliance with section 6 of the Health and Safety at Work Act by inspecting health and safety information required to be provided by the supplier, and secondly by inspecting the supplier's system for updating customers with revisions to health and safety information.

Selection

The selection of suitable personal protective equipment (PPE) following the assessment is the first stage in a continuing programme. The programme is also concerned with proper use, maintenance, training and supervision (see G 4, Maintenance/Replacement and Storage of Personal Protective Equipment; and see G 5, Personal Protective Equipment - Training, Use and Reporting).

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