PPE Maintenance and Replacement Responsibilities

PPE Maintenance and Replacement Responsibilities

 

Ideally you would eliminate it, failing that - change it for something else. You could of course isolate people from it and put some controls around it, maybe even educate workers to cope and work around it. As a last resort, you could physically protect against it with PPE. What is ‘it’?   ‘It’, in this case is a ‘Hazard’.  The Hazard Hierarchy of Controls exists as a guide to PCBUs and Workers for protecting and coping with Hazards in the Workplace. 

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is deemed as the ‘last line of defence’ and vital to protecting workers against the risks that arise from Work place Hazards. As they form a physical ‘barrier’, great importance needs to be placed on the Maintenance, repair and Replacement of PPE when necessary.

PPE may include, and not be limited to:

 

 

  •        Sunscreen

  •        Gloves

  •        Googles / Safety Glasses

  •        Boots

  •        Overalls

  •        Safety Harnesses

  •        Ear Defenders / Earplugs

  •        Breathing Masks

  •        Welding Mask

  •        Hi-Viz clothing

In Australia, WHS Regulations 36, 44, 45, 46 and to some extent Regulation 47, detail the requirements surrounding PPE and the related responsibilities of the PCBU (Persons Conducting Business or Undertaking) and the Workers to maintain and, if necessary, replace PPE.

SAFE WORK Australia say the maintenance requirements are: “To ensure PPE continues to minimise any potential risk for the worker, PPE must be maintained, repaired or replaced and stored correctly. This includes making sure it is clean, hygienic and in good working order.”

 Guidelines published by The University of Wollongong in 2016 give a great insight into what may be required to maintain PPE:  Inspections of PPE should be carried out regularly before use, determining whether or not the items are still fit for use. Where something is no longer providing the protection that it was intended to – it should be repaired or replaced. Substandard equipment should be replaced where suitable protection is not provided. Storage of PPE is important too. The PCBU has responsibility to provide adequate storage of Personal Protective Equipment. Essentially, equipment should also be stored according to the Manufacturer’s instructions.  Basically, storage should be in a place that is free from being damaged, an environment that does not contribute to easy deterioration and a place of adequate hygiene. 

Also, it’s good to remember that under Regulation 46, a Worker too has a responsibility to let the PCBU know if an item(s) of PPE are defective, deteriorated or even contaminated.

Of course, as mentioned before it’s always best to consult the manufacturer when maintaining and repairing any form of PPE but here are a couple of interesting facts to remember:

💡 Did you know: Sunscreen should be replaced within three years if unopened and 6 months if opened according to Cancer Council Australia?

💡 Did you know: Only 8% of workers actually clean their Ear defenders once a week! Give them a quick wipe, that’s all it takes.

 

Our advice at Moore McPhee is “Look after it and it will look after you”.  

Ed: This article was written by Eric Mungly.