Selecting the right PPE is critical to compliance, with regards to two main elements:
This is the element that is most understood and which is widely used today as the means by which to select PPE. It refers to whether the product has the ability to protect the user from the hazard they are facing. For example, the ear plug attenuates the noise to a level, which reduces harm to a reasonable level.
This is often an area that is not given as much consideration during the purchasing process. The fundamental question is: will the product not only protect the wearer, but will it be suitable for the worker, the task and the environment in which it must be worn? This goes beyond understanding the technical specification of the product and ventures into the world of appreciating the product’s effectiveness in use. If this area is overlooked, it can lead to a reduction in products being worn and hence workers that are not protected as they are intended.
When considering compatibility, it is important to think not just about the compatibility of PPE with other types of PPE, but also with other equipment and environmental influences. Incompatibility typically results in three main outputs: loss of protection, a reduction in comfort, or a reduction in the ease of doing the task / productivity.
We can think about compatibility with the following simplified model:
Having selected the right product to protect against the workplace hazard(s), it is vitally important that the PPE is correctly fitted, worn and maintained at all times when exposed to the hazard, to ensure the protection.
These are a selection of things that should be considered to form part of your management system and training when thinking about use and maintenance.