Key Responsibilities Regarding PPE in the Workplace

OSHA requires the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) to reduce employee exposure to hazards when engineering and administrative controls are not feasible or effective. As a safety manager or supervisor, you are required to determine if PPE is necessary to protect your workers. If PPE is to be used, a PPE program should be implemented. This program should address the hazards present; the selection, maintenance and use of PPE; the training of employees; and the monitoring of the program to ensure its ongoing effectiveness. 

PPE works by creating
 a barrier between the employee and the particular hazard he or she is 
dealing with. Again, it is 
not a substitute for good engineering or administrative controls, or good work practices. However, it should be used in conjunction with these controls to ensure the safety and health of 
your employees. 

PPE must be provided, used and maintained when it has been determined that its use is required and that such use will lessen the likelihood of occupational injury and/or illness. 

Your Primary PPE Responsibilities

As an individual in charge of employee safety, you have several responsibilities related to PPE. You have the primary responsibility for implementing the company’s PPE program in your work area. This involves: 

  • Providing PPE and making it available to employees
  • Ensuring employees are trained on the proper use, care and cleaning of PPE
  • Maintaining records on PPE assignments and training
  • Supervising staff to ensure that the PPE program elements are followed and that employees properly use and care for PPE
  • Seeking assistance from management to evaluate hazards as necessary
  • Notifying management when new hazards are introduced or when processes are added or changed 
  • Ensuring that defective or damaged equipment is immediately replaced

You may be in charge of establishing a PPE program and making PPE available to your employees. However, your employees have some PPE-related responsibilities as well. Some of these include: 

  • Following the requirements of the PPE program 
  • Wearing PPE as required 
  • Attending required training sessions 
  • Caring for, cleaning and maintaining PPE as required 
  • Informing management of the need to repair or replace PPE