Magazine article Occupational Hazards

OH Flash Survey: Personal Protective Equipment

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

OH Flash Survey: Personal Protective Equipment

Article excerpt

During the past year, 38 percent of readers reported that at least one employee at their facility or company had been saved from serious injury or death by the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), according to a recent Occupational Hazards "flash survey."

In the May survey conducted via fax, a slight majority of safety and health managers, 53 percent, said that the use of personal protective equipment would increase from 1996 to 1997. Nearly 46 percent said PPE usage would remain at the same levels. Less than 1 percent reported that PPE use would decrease in 1997.

A solid majority of safety managers characterized employee compliance with requirements to wear PPE as "good" (56 percent) or "excellent" (13 percent). Approximately 26 percent rated employee compliance as "average," while slightly less than 5 percent rated it "fair."

Readers were asked what techniques they use to encourage employee use of PPE and how effective they thought the methods were. Training was the method favored most by safety managers, with involving employees in the selection of PPE coming in second. Here was their response:

                       Poor   Fair   Good   Excellent
Training               1%     29%    55%    15%

Employee Involvement
in Selection           5%     44%    37%    14%
Behavioral Feedback    7%     39%    46%     7%
Discipline             16%    42%    33%     9%
Incentive Awards       35%    24%    36%     5%

Safety managers were also asked about their facility's compliance with the general requirements (1910.132) of OSHA's Subpart I - Personal Protective Equipment standard. That standard requires employers to "assess the workplace to determine if hazards are present, or are likely to be present, which necessitate the use of personal protective equipment (PPE)." Some 49 percent of those polled rated compliance with that provision as "good." Another 20 percent said it was "excellent," while 18 percent rated it as "average," 8 percent as "fair," and 5 percent as "poor."

If such hazards are present, employers are required to: "Select, and have each affected employee use, the types of PPE that will protect the affected employee from the hazards identified in the hazard assessment." The majority of respondents rated their compliance with that provision as "good" (62 percent) or "excellent" (23 percent). Another 9 percent rated compliance as "average," while 6 percent termed it "fair."

The PPE standard also calls for employers to train workers, at a minimum, on: when PPE is necessary; what PPE is necessary; how to properly don, doff, adjust and wear PPE; the limitations of the PPE; and the proper care, maintenance, useful life and disposal of the PPE. …

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