You’ve decided that staff need personal protective equipment (PPE) and have spent time selecting suitable items. But before you hand them out, it’s worthwhile considering the next steps. Our flow chart shows what’s legally required.
Not so easy
Using personal protective equipment (PPE) as a means of controlling risks to health and safety is not as simple as it first appears. Even if you’ve managed to choose something which suits the task and fits the individual, there are still hurdles to overcome, e.g. getting staff to wear it, ensuring it’s stored properly, keeping it clean and maintained and replacing it when needed. These difficulties are summed up in the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 and the official guidance which supports them.
Tip. To lead you through the process, use our flow chart – PPE issuing and management. It summarises the actions which need to be taken when you issue PPE and afterwards. This can be downloaded free here.
How’s the document organised?
Our process begins at the point where suitable PPE has been selected. Note. Getting to this point can be tricky and may require specialist advice from suppliers and/or your health and safety advisor. From here our flow chart branches into three streams headed: (1) “Staff management”; (2) “Stores”; and (3) “Premises”. The first refers to standard PPE which applies to a job role and will be issued personally to staff, and the second to supplies of items which will be held centrally. The third column describes facilities to be provided, signage to display and visitors to manage.
Column one begins with an instruction to compile lists of non-disposable items for each job role. This is followed by the step-by-step procedure for issuing and managing these items. It covers:
- record keeping
- checking for good fit
- providing instruction to staff
- managing the expiry and replacement process
- cleaning and maintenance
- management inspections; and
- enforcing the correct wearing of PPE.
The stores column begins by asking you to write a list of items which will be issued on an “as required” basis. These may include specialist equipment, e.g. safety harnesses, ropes and lifejackets and disposable items such as gloves, ear plugs and masks.
Our flow chart guides you through the process of identifying what to stock, pre-issue inspection, return procedures, formal inspection and record keeping.
The final part of our document runs through the changes you might need to make to your premises to promote the use of PPE and to accommodate it. It covers: (1) signage for mandatory PPE, e.g. hearing protection zones; (2) visitor needs; (3) storage; and (4) drying and laundering. The flow chart finishes by suggesting a periodic review of your arrangements by the health and safety committee.
Use our document to implement a systematic process of PPE management. By following it, your staff will be properly instructed so it’s used correctly, cleaned, maintained, issued to the right employees and replaced when needed. You will need to display signs, provide storage and enforce the rules.
Note: If you issue PPE, display mandatory sign to wear the PPE for certain tasks and instruct employees to wear the PPE but then do not enforce the wearing of PPE you can be found liable in the event of an accident. Your MUST enforce you own policies and procedures!