How to Do a PPE Hazard Assessment

Date First Published on SafetySmart Compliance: March 13th, 2012
Topics: PPE |

Complying with OSHA PPE requirements begins with hazard assessment. Here’s an overview of the requirements and how to comply with them.

When Are Assessments Required?

A competent person at your company who has the training and experience necessary to understand the work and the hazards it poses should perform a PPE Hazard Assessment:

 

 

  • Before a project begins or a site opens;
  • Daily at sites where conditions and hazards change all the time;
  • At “reasonably practicable,” intervals to prevent development of unsafe and unhealthy conditions;
  • When new work processes are introduced;
  • when work processes or operations change;
  • when significant incidents suggest that hazards have changed or hazards not identified in previous assessments are present; and
  • Before construction or significant alterations at a site.

Verification of Hazard Assessment

Under the OSHA rules, you must provide written verification that a Hazard Assessment has been completed. The document should:

  • Identify the workplace evaluated;
  • Identify the person certifying that the evaluation has been performed;
  • Include the date(s) of the hazard assessment; and
  • Include a statement that identifies the document as a “certification of hazard assessment.”

What Must Hazard Assessments Cover?

In its simplest form, a Hazard Assessment used for PPE consists of 3 pieces of information:

  1. What work tasks the employee performs that cause them to be exposed to a hazard;
  2. When or where they’re performed; and
  3. The hazards posed by the specific work tasks.

Consider all the potential workplace conditions that may impact your employees. These would include:

  • Temperature extremes;
  • Particles that could fly into the eyes;
  • Chemicals that could blister, burn or otherwise harm skin or clothing;
  • Toxic chemicals or harsh odors they may have to breathe or accidentally ingest;
  • Surfaces that could trip employees or make them slip; and
  • Heavy objects that could drop on their feet

When assessing hazards, make sure you don’t limit your assessment to just the obvious ones. For example:

  • Look at warnings on the machinery you use and read the owner’s manual;
  • Ask your property insurer;
  • Check with competitors who have similar processes or equipment; and
  • Ask experienced employees and newcomers for their insights.

Conclusion

Remember that as an employer, you have the primary obligation under OSHA to protect employees even when they are careless or don’t follow work rules designed to keep them safe.