Personal protective equipment (PPE) includes all types of equipment used to increase individual safety while performing potentially hazardous tasks. This may include safety glasses, hard hats, gloves, lab coats, respirators or any equipment used to protect against injury or illness.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires PPE to be provided, used and maintained in a sanitary and reliable condition wherever hazards of processes or environment, chemical hazards, radiological hazards or mechanical irritants are encountered in a manner capable of causing injury or illness through absorption, inhalation or physical contact. Departments are responsible for ensuring the adequacy of the equipment and ensuring that it is properly maintained, even in those cases where employees provide their own PPE.
Engineering controls that eliminate the hazard at the source and do not rely on the worker’s behavior for their effectiveness offer the best and most reliable means of protection. Therefore, engineering controls are the first choice for eliminating workplace hazards. Whenever engineering controls are not available or are not fully capable of providing protection, the worker must wear personal protective equipment.