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PPE Hazard Assessment


Every workplace has their own unique hazards that employees will face. Controlling a hazard at its source is by far the best way to protect employees. If you are able to eliminate hazards by using engineering or administrative controls, you will be able to prevent any incidents from occurring. Unfortunately, engineering and administrative controls are not always feasible, and the employer must still protect their employees by providing personal protective equipment (PPE). Using PPE is often essential in helping safeguard employees against hazards but should generally be thought of as the last line of defense.

The first critical step in protecting your employees is to use a hazard assessment for each task/job to help identify the unique hazards in your workplace. It starts with a walkthrough of the facility while developing a list of potential hazards. Observe the layout of the workplace, location of the employees, work operations, hazards and current PPE use. Pay special attention to the following basic hazard categories:

  • Impact (falling/flying objects)
  • Penetration (sharp objects piercing foot/hand)
  • Compression (roll-over or pinching objects)
  • Chemical exposure (inhalation, ingestion, skin contact, eye contact or injection)
  • Temperature extremes (heat/cold)
  • Dust/flying debris (grinding, chipping, sanding, etc.)
  • Fall (slip/trip, scaffolds, elevated work)
  • Radiation (non-ionizing: UV/IR/light, welding, brazing, cutting, furnaces, etc.)
  • Noise (mechanical rooms, machines, cage washing, jackhammers, etc.)
  • Electrical (shock, short circuit, arcing, static)

In addition to noting the basic layout of the facility, other things to include in your walkthrough are:

  • Sources of electricity
  • Sources of motion such as machines or processes where movement may exist that could result in an impact between personnel and equipment
  • Sources of high temperatures that could result in burns, eye injuries or fire
  • Types of chemicals used in the workplace
  • Sources of harmful dusts
  • Sources of light radiation, such as welding, brazing, cutting, furnaces, heat treating, high-intensity lights, etc.
  • The potential for falling or dropping objects
  • Biologic hazards such as blood or other potentially infectious material
  • Unprotected edges where fall hazards may exist

When the walkthrough is complete, the data needs to be organized and analyzed. If the hazards cannot be eliminated or controlled without the use of PPE, then indicate which type of PPE will be required to protect the employee from the hazard. It is definitely a good idea to select PPE that will provide a level of protection greater than the minimum required to protect employees from hazards.

It is also very important to periodically reassess the workplace for any changes in conditions, equipment or operating procedures that could create hazards. This periodic reassessment should also include a review of injury and illness records to spot any trends or areas of concern and taking appropriate corrective action. The suitability of existing PPE, including an evaluation of its condition and age, should be included in the reassessment. Documentation of the hazard assessment is required through a written certification that includes the following information:

  • Identification of the workplace evaluated;
  • Name of the person conducting the assessment;
  • Date of the assessment; and
  • Identification of the document certifying completion of the hazard assessment.

Attached to this Safety Alert is a sample "PPE Hazard Assessment Certification Form" that can be used to make sure your employees are adequately protected. Do not rely on PPE alone to provide protection against hazards but should be used in conjuction with guards, engineering controls and good operating practices.

Hazard Assessment for PPE -


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