By Scott Conboy 0 comments

Workplace Safety: “Ask the Expert”

Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) is a multidisciplinary field that concerns the safety, health, and welfare of the people at work. The occupational health and safety programs include fostering a safe and healthy work environment. It aims to protect the co-workers, family members, employers, customers, and other people who might be affected by the workplace environment.

There are legal duties and obligations that entails the employers to take full reasonable care of the safety of their employees. Occupational health promotes and maintains the highest degree of the physical, mental, and social well-being of workers in all occupations. It protects the workers in their employment from risks resulting from factors that are adverse to health.

Physical hazards affect many people in the workplace. In the hierarchy of hazard controls, elimination is the topmost priority, followed by substitution, engineering controls, administrative controls, the last resort of the hierarchy of hazard controls is the personal protective equipment (PPE).

Personal protective equipment can help protect against many of this hazard. These frequently asked questions (FAQs) will provide a background information on the purpose of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and the requirements of the program of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).


Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) refers to the protective clothing, helmets, goggles, and other garments or equipment designed to protect the body of the person from injury or infection. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is worn for job-related occupational health and safety purposes.

There is a purpose why Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) it is to reduce exposures of employees to hazards when the engineering controls that protect the workers from hazardous situations and administrative controls that lessens the threat of a hazard to an individual are not feasible or effective to reduce the said risks to an acceptable level.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that is used in a workplace should be selected to minimize the risk to work health and safety; it should be suitable for the nature of the work and any hazard that is associated with the work; and it should be a suitable size and fit and reasonably comfortable for the person who wears it.

When Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is properly selected and used, it can be effective in the elimination or minimization of individual exposures to hazardous materials and physical hazards being encountered in a different work environment.

Hazardous materials are not limited to chemical and biological materials or agents that pose a health or physical hazard and unsealed radioactive materials. Physical hazards are not limited to substances, equipment, or activities that can expose the person to a potential threat to their physical safety. Examples of a physical hazard include: extreme pressures, extreme temperatures, ionizing and non-ionizing radiation, noise, and flying hazards of machining equipment.

Managers and supervisors should be aware of the reasons for providing a personal protective equipment (PPE); they should be knowledgeable of the proper usage, and the level of protection of the personal protective equipment (PPE) provides.

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Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is categorized by the area of which the body is protected; by the types of hazard the person is exposed; and by the type of garment or accessory.


- Respirators serve to protect the user from inhaling poison or contaminants in the air, thus the respirator protects the respiratory tract of the wearer. There are two main types of a respirator: the first type of respirator has a function that filters out chemicals and gases, or airborne particles from the air breathed by the user. The filtration of the respirator might be passive or active. An example of this type of respirator is gas masks and particulate respirators. The second type of respirator can protect the wearer through providing clean, respirable air from another source.

- Respirators are being used in environments that do not have enough ventilation and the engineering control system is not feasible.

Eye protection

- Eye injuries can happen through a variety of situations. Most of the injuries that occur in the workplace environment when solid particles get into the eye. Chemical burns, biological agents, and thermal agents can contribute to an occupational eye injury. Safety glasses provide protection from external debris and should provide side protection through a wrap-around design or side shields. What are these equipment that can provide an adequate and needed protection for the eyes?

- Goggles, this equipment provides a better protection more than a safety glasses, it is effective in the prevention of eye injury from chemical splashes, impact, dusty environments and welding.

- Face shields, this equipment provides an additional protection and worn over the standard eyewear; face shields can provide protection from the impact, chemical, and bloodborne hazards.

- Full-facepiece respirators, this equipment is considered to be the best form of eye protection when respiratory protection is needed as well.

Skin protection

- Occupational skin diseases are the second most concern for occupational health and safety. Chemical agents, physical agents, biological agents and mechanical trauma are the contributors of occupational skin hazards. Any form of personal protective equipment (PPE) that can act as a barrier between the skin and the agent can be considered as skin protection. Gloves are an essential item for skin protection.

- Gloves protect and provides comfort to the hands against cold or heat, damage by friction, abrasion or chemicals, and diseases.

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Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 is a set of regulations that were imposed under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The regulations place a duty on every employer to ensure that a suitable personal protective equipment (PPE) is being provided to the employees who may be exposed to a risk to their health or safety while at work.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is defined in the regulations as ‘all equipment which is intended to be worn or held by a person at work which protects them against one or more risks to their health and safety'. Thus, the legal duties and obligations define the general duties of the employer, employee, contractors, suppliers of goods and substances for use at work, and the people in general.

The legal duties and obligations as set out the objectives that it should secure the health, safety, and welfare of the persons at work; it should protect the persons at work against risks to health or safety that arises out of or in connection with the activities at work; and it should be the duty of every employer to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of all of his or her employees.

The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 duly states that the employers are not allowed to charge for any personal protective equipment (PPE) that is used for work. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should be provided by a PCBU. PCBU are persons conducting a business or undertaking, they must consult with their workers in selecting the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE); they must ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, that the personal protective equipment (PPE) is used or worn by the worker; and they must provide the worker with information, training, and instructions in the proper use and wearing of the personal protective equipment (PPE) and how it is stored and duly maintained.

The legal requirements for businesses in relation to personal protective equipment (PPE) are set out in the regulations 36, 44, and 45 of the model Work Health and Safety Regulations. Workers have legal duties and obligations in relation to personal protective equipment under the regulation 46 of the model Work Health and Safety Regulations. Moreover, those who are not workers still have an obligation under the regulation 47 of the model Work Health and Safety Regulations.

The personal protective equipment must be worn in accordance with any information, training, or reasonable instruction provided. For further information, you can read through the guidelines at Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) and International Labour Organization (ILO).


There is a fundamental principle that personal protective equipment (PPE) should only be used as a last resort. This is because of the hierarchy of hazard controls, elimination is the topmost priority, followed by substitution, engineering controls, administrative controls, and the last resort of the hierarchy of hazard controls is the personal protective equipment (PPE).

The safety and health of the employees must be first safeguarded by the elimination measures of the workplace with the source of the risks. It is eliminated through technical or organizational means or by providing protection on a collective basis. If these measures or methods are not sufficient, only then personal protective equipment (PPE) is used to protect the employers from unavoidable hazards.

Under the hierarchy, personal protective equipment is designated as the level 3 control measures. Level 3 control measures do not control the hazard at the source, it relies on the human behavior and supervision on their own to be at least effective in minimizing risks.

There are reasons why personal protective equipment (PPE) is used as a last resort because, personal protective equipment (PPE) only protects the person who wears it; personal protective equipment (PPE) are ineffective if not working or fitted properly; there are theoretical levels of protection that are seldom reached in practice; and there are uses of personal protective equipment (PPE) that restricts the wearer to some degree.

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If you have noticed that there is something that needs attention or have ideas for the site, please let us know and contact Scott Conboy at