As a Tampa construction law firm, we know that keeping operational standards to the safety expectations of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires special attention. Sometimes, however, hazards cannot be completely eliminated. Instead, they must be controlled through safety protocols and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). PPE includes items such as gloves, boots, eye protection, ear plugs, hard hats, and respirators that are designed to minimize employee exposure to hazards that could lead to injury or death. But, it’s not as simple as just handing out hard hats on the job site. Ensuring the proper use of PPE should be an ongoing process for your business.
Our attorneys from the Trent Cotney, P. A. construction law firm in Tampa have provided a four-step strategy for successful PPE use and implementation in your workplace.
Step 1: Conduct a Hazard Assessment
The first step to reducing hazards is to properly identify them. This can be accomplished by conducting a hazard assessment. There are two major items to look for when conducting a hazard assessment, physical hazards and health hazards. Physical hazards relate to areas of the workplace where dangers, such as extreme light levels, electrical outlets, or the transportation of heavy objects are present. Health hazards relate to areas where chemical and toxic materials pose potential health risks. During the hazard assessment it is important to take note of all the areas visited. It is also a good idea to assess the PPE currently being used and evaluate its effectiveness.
After the walkthrough is complete, take the data that has been gathered and determine where and which PPE should be utilized to minimize your employee’s exposure to risk.
Step 2: Select Appropriate PPE
It is the owner’s responsibility to supply their employees with PPE free of charge, but there are a lot of options available to choose from. By taking the information gathered in your hazard assessment, you should be able to determine the appropriate level of protection needed for each area of the facility and find products designed specifically for the type of hazards your employees will face at the job site. The PPE should fit each employee comfortably, so it is important to purchase safety products that are available in a variety of sizes.
Step 3: Provide Training for Proper Use of PPE
Employers are not only responsible for supplying PPE to employees, but they must also provide training on how to properly use the equipment. Items that should be addressed during PPE training include what areas of the jobsite require PPE, when the equipment should be used, how to properly wear the equipment, and what risks the employee may face even with the use of PPE.
Step 4: Reassess Hazards and Replace Old, Damaged PPE
The only way to ensure your safety protocols are working is through a reassessment of the jobsite and all equipment to ensure employees are properly protected. During your reassessment, it’s important to keep in mind that a lot of the equipment on your construction site may be under severe conditions and may have the potential to wear out more quickly than others. Determine the operational life of your PPE and set up employee checks throughout the year to replace old, damaged equipment.
Trent Cotney, OSHA Defense Attorney
Violations for the improper use of PPE equipment are taken serious by OSHA, especially when injury or death could occur as a result. If you receive a citation for lack of or improper use of PPE in your workplace or any other violation, it is imperative that you contact a Tampa construction law firm that is experienced with OSHA violation defense.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.