What Key Factors Should Be Considered When Selecting PPE?
Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) can make a huge difference in preventing accidents and injuries in certain workplaces, and in preventing the spread of infection in healthcare settings.
Employers are responsible for providing PPE to their employees. You can find a guide to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) regulations concerning PPE.
What to Consider When Selecting PPE
There are a number of factors to consider when selecting the PPE you need for different settings. This includes:
- Harmful substance exposure
- Risk Assessment hazards
- PPE regulations
- Who it’s for
- How much you need
We’ll explore each of these in more detail to help you identify the key factors you need to be considering when selecting and purchasing PPE.
Essential Questions Regarding Substances
Thinking about your workplace – whether it’s a construction site or a hospital – consider the following:
- What sort of harmful substances are there, and who might be exposed to them?
- How long might these people be exposed to these substances?
- How much of these substances are they likely to be exposed to?
Start With a Risk Assessment
Conduct a thorough audit of all of your operations to identify any potential hazards that might require the use of PPE.
Potential hazards might include:
- Exposure to dust, fumes, aerosols, and other potentially harmful substances.
- Excessive noise levels.
- Infection from viruses and bacteria – this is always a risk in healthcare settings. But the COVID-19 pandemic forced many to consider the infection risks in other settings too.
Consider the PPE Regulations in Your Industry
The PPE you provide should be fit for purpose. But you need to match the level of protection you provide to the risks.
Personal Protective Equipment (Enforcement) Regulations 2018 is the statutory guidance for PPE. Among other things, it outlines that all PPE products must be either CE or UKCA marked, indicating that it meets certain regulations.
Talk to your suppliers about the PPE regulations in your industry, and they’ll be able to advise you on remaining compliant. And the better you can explain the task or job that demands PPE, the better they’ll be able to advise on appropriate equipment.
Who Needs to Use PPE?
Size, fit and weight are key things to think about here. All PPE should be comfortable, but the longer a person will have to use it, the more comfortable it’ll have to be. Also think about instances where people might use more than one item of PPE at the same time. All the PPE you provide should be fully compatible. It’s vital that no item of PPE impacts on the effectiveness of any other.
And PPE is essentially useless if it doesn’t fit, or if it’s not used correctly. You should instruct and train people on how to use any PPE you provide.
This is particularly critical in hospital and healthcare settings. Standard Infection Control Precautions in hospitals will often specify not just the type of PPE staff should use, but also how they apply it.
How Much PPE You’ll Need
Some items of PPE can be used again and again. Others are disposable – they’re designed to be used once, and then discarded. Supply and demand is often a critical factor when choosing PPE. One reason it’s so important to identify the potential hazards in your workplace is because it will inform you not just of what sort of PPE you need, but also of how much you need.
In a healthcare setting, workers might get through dozens of gloves and facemasks each day. To prevent the spread of infection, it’s important that they can always depend on a reliable supply of the PPE they need. So when choosing PPE, along with comfort and wearability, hospitals might account for availability, shipping times and costs, and storage requirements.
Need a Hand Choosing PPE for Your Workplace?
We offer many services that’ll help you equip your staff with the PPE they need – particularly in healthcare environments.
Our workplace exposure monitoring services can feed into your initial risk assessment. We can help you identify possible sources of infection and contamination, and our comprehensive reports include discussions and recommendations for keeping your staff safe.
We can also help you ensure both your staff and your PPE is up to scratch, with our specialist spill kit training for hospitals, and our face fit testing services for medical settings.
Finally, we also stock a huge range of specialist PPE equipment, including an extensive selection of absorbent mats for hospitals.
Want to talk about how we can help you choose the right PPE for your workplace? Get in touch to talk to one of our air purification experts today.