In terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (Act 85/93) all hazards must be engineered out and only if the hazard(s) cannot be engineered out should Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) be issued (S 8)

The correct selection of PPE is very important. The selected equipment must be able to protect the employee against the hazards he / she is being exposed to. Too often do we come across people wearing dust masks to filter out organic vapours. This is not done using a dust mask!

It is management’s responsibility to select the correct PPE. This is best done using a Risk Assessment (in terms of the General Safety Regulation no. 2 of the OH&S Act). The risk assessment will highlight any risks the employees may be exposed to. Management than will have to decide what risks can be engineered out and what PPE is required for each of the positions in his / her employment.

We must be very critical in the selection of the equipment as it is an additional burden that the employees must carry around and wear. If nothing can fall from above and there is no possibility of bumping ones head against low overhead pipes, why force people to wear hard hats?

Once Management has decided on the PPE (hard hat, goggles, safety glasses, overalls, apron, gloves, shoes, boots, gumboots etc.) and agreed with the workforce on the type to be issued, the employees (including Management) are required to wear the required PPE in the designated areas.

It is Management’s responsibility to (a) issue the PPE free of charge, (b) to train the employees in the proper use, maintenance and limitations of the safety equipment and (c) shall not permit a person to work in an area without wearing the required PPE for that area.

If a person has to wear e.g. hearing protection and the employee can for whatever reason not wear the required hearing protection, he / she cannot work in that area.

It is the employee’s responsibility to wear the required PPE and to look after the equipment issued to him.

The issue of PPE must be recorded. We recommend an ‘issue sheet’ per person. The employee must sign receipt for each of the equipment issued to him. Once the issue sheet is full, it should be placed on the employee’s personal file for future reference.

In the next talks, we will be discussing the individual PPE’s.

Compiled by Frans Wilbrink of Wilbrink & Associates (tel. 031-266 9035)