Personal Protective Equipment

Employee PPE training

Today we want to explain the importance of training employees on personal protective equipment.

We'll give you a guideline for the proper selection, issuing, use and maintenance of personal protective equipment (PPE), in line with the requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993 and its regulations.

The importance of health and safety PPE training explained

First of all, you need to understand and have the knowledge to put a PPE programme in place in your work environment, such as:

  • The process for identifying the PPE you need in your organisation;
  • The selection of the proper PPE you'll use;
  • The training of your employees in the use, maintenance and disposal of PPE
  • The process for PPE issuing and re-issuing.
When it comes to the responsibilities related to PPE, here's what your delegated employee(s) will be doing:

  • Completing a hazard assessment of the workplace to identify all the risks your employees are exposed to
  • Controlling physical and health hazards by other means before considering PPE
  • Checking the material safety data sheets (MSDS) of chemicals you use at work, for the recommended PPE by the manufacturer
  • Completing a PPE needs analysis (this is a matrix identifying the work/work area and what PPE you must wear)
  • Identifying, selecting and providing proper PPE free of charge to all workers who need to wear PPE (General SafetyRegulation 2)
  • Training workers to use and care for the PPE
  • Making sure no worker does any work unless they have the proper PPE for the job
  • Replacing worn, damaged or lost PPE immediately
  • Making sure to correctly dispose of PPE which you can no longer use
  • Doing a PPE compliance inspection
  • Reviewing, updating and evaluating the PPE programme at least once a year.
  • Reviewing, updating and evaluating the PPE programme whenever activities, work methods, machinery, equipment etc. change at work
  • Developing and putting into place a 'PPE issue control system'.

Short guideline on selecting and buying PPE

Selecting PPE: Once you've decided what PPE you need, you must ask your supplier/manufacturer to provide test results done on the PPE.

Purchasing PPE: Don't allow your buyers and purchasing department to buy PPE based only on price. As we've said before, companies that buy only based on price will pay later with injuries and illness as consequence!

PPE storage facilities: You should provide adequate storage facilities for PPE and allocate the storage facility to an individual employee and should follow the same process for the 'issuing of PPE'.

Inspection and compliance: The manager/supervisor should do regular inspections of PPE. And compliance when employees wear their PPE. They must document and record the results of these inspections on an 'Inspection Analysis' form. They should use the results of the inspections as topics in departmental safety meetings, or in the health and safety committee meetings.

Training and information on Personal Protective Equipment

As an employer, you must give you information about your PPE and you must also provide the proper training in the following (as a minimum):

  • When it's necessary to wear PPE (the employee needs to know what risks you're exposed to while you work)
  • What PPE should they use and for which purpose
  • How to put it on
  • How to adjust it
  • How to wear it
  • How to take it off (you must give them special training if they work with hazardous chemicals)
  • What the PPE won't do regarding protection
  • How to give proper care to the PPE
  • How to clean the PPE
  • How to store it
  • What its useful life expectancy is
  • How to dispose of expired or damaged PPE
  • How to replace PPE
  • The consequences of non-compliance regarding the rules of PPE

Instances additional training or retraining is required

These could include the following, but are not exclusive to:

  • Changes in the workplace (machinery, methods of work etc.);
  • Changes in the type of PPE you need which makes previous training obsolete;
  • Incidents occurring as a result of lack of PPE or an employee not wearing the PPE provided, or not wearing the PPE correctly;
  • New activities in the workplace;
  • Accidents due to substandard PPE
Make sure your employees fill in and sign an attendance register for training. You must attach their training content to a training attendance register, or that the training attendance register refers clearly to the content of the training in the management system.

The employees should also get a copy of the training content so they can refer to it when they're not sure what they need to do regarding their PPE. As an employer, you should give your employees a training certificate for attending the PPE training.

Keep in mind that if suppliers or manufacturers are those who provide training, they must give a copy of the training content to you before they give the training. This is important because it ensures the following:

  • That there's sufficient information on the PPE itself (technical, physical, usage, maintenance etc.)
  • Specific to the list of training content above
  • It assists to record the content of the training in the company's management system.
Keep in mind that technical information of the various types of PPE isn't included because there are so many various types and brands.

By providing employees with proper PPE training, selection and use, you can prevent financial losses in your company and reduce injuries and illnesses.

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