Personal protective equipment (PPE)
Employers are responsible for providing, replacing and paying for personal protective equipment for use by their staff.
PPE should be used when all other measures are inadequate to control exposure. It protects only the wearer, while being worn.
If it fails, PPE offers no protection at all.
Types of PPE
- Protective gloves
- Protective clothing
- Protective footwear
- Eye protection
When deciding about PPE ask your supplier or the manufacturer:
- Is it suitable for the conditions of the job?
- Does it offer the right level of protection?
- What sort of training or maintenance is required?
- How do I know when it needs replacing?
It is important that staff know why they need PPE and are trained to use it correctly. Otherwise it is unlikely to protect them as required, so you need to ask yourself:
- Does it fit correctly?
- How does the wearer feel? Is it comfortable?
- Are all items of PPE compatible?
- Does PPE interfere with the job being done?
- Does PPE introduce another health risk, eg overheating, entanglement with machinery?
- If PPE needs maintenance or cleaning, how is it done?
When employees find PPE comfortable they are far more likely to wear it.
COSHH health surveillance
What is health surveillance?
Health surveillance is any activity which involves obtaining information about employees’ health and which helps protect employees from health risks at work.
The objectives for health surveillance are:
- Protecting the health of employees by early detection of adverse changes or disease;
- Collecting data for detecting or evaluating health hazards;
- Evaluating control measures.
‘Health Surveillance’ should not be confused with general health screening or health promotion.
Health surveillance is necessary when:
- there is a disease associated with the substance in use (e.g. Asthma, Dermatitis, Cancers)
- it is possible to detect the disease or adverse change and reduce the risk of further harm
- the conditions in the workplace make it likely that the disease will appear
Health surveillance is a process; it may be a regular planned assessment of one or more aspects of your staff’s health, for example: any skin condition such as a rash developing after using a particular substance.
However, it is not enough to simply carry out suitable tests, questionnaires or examinations. Employers must then have the results interpreted and take action to eliminate or further control exposure, for instance by your or your staff’s doctor. It may be necessary to redeploy affected staff if necessary.
HSE produces a priced publication called “Health surveillance at work” which provides guidance on how employers can fulfil their legal duty to provide health surveillance.