Safely Maintaining PPE

Certificate IV in Occupational Health and SafetyA number of standards organisations specify minimum requirements for PPE of different types. PPE should not be used unless it is designed to meet the minimum requirements of relevant standards. Learn more during your Certificate IV in OHS.

Damage to PPE

Equipment should be marked in an appropriate manner to ensure that the individual can readily identify his or her own gear. Care should be taken to avoid damage or otherwise go against the instructions of the manufacturer with respect to care and use of the PPE. For example, it is not appropriate to use a felt-tip marker pen, self-adhesive sticker and paint or to engrave on certain types of safety helmet, as this can cause damage to the PPE. Typically, the manufacturers of safety helmets warn of the possibility that adhesives, glues or solvents can cause structural damage to the components. Therefore, it follows that the manufacturer’s advice should be heeded regarding its products and ongoing compliance to applicable standards.

PPE should only be used for its intended purpose and not for tasks for which the manufacturer has not specified. If in doubt, consult the manufacturer or supplier to ensure that the equipment is suitable for the task intended.

Maintenance

A PCBU should ensure that personal protective equipment is maintained in a condition that ensures its continued effective operation. Damaged or defective personal protective equipment should be repaired or discarded where appropriate. Care should be taken to ensure that worn, damaged or life expired components (including filters) are not reused. Spare or replacement parts or even complete replacements may need to be held on-stock to minimise delays in having serviceable PPE in the workplace.

A system to ensure carrying out appropriate maintenance of personal protective equipment should be instituted. A responsible person should be designated to control the maintenance program and should be able to provide advice and training when appropriate. They should also organise the storage, cleaning and correct maintenance procedures, provide information on the duration of PPE effectiveness (e.g. respiratory canisters) and set the criteria for replacement.

Cleaning of PPE

Soiled protective clothing may pose a risk whilst laundering, and to minimise the risk, laundering should preferably be carried out at the workplace or by a specialist laundry service. If disposable clothing is worn, suitable procedures need to be developed to ensure the clothing is appropriately disposed of without risk to safety and health of others.

For PPE in general, guidance should be sought from the manufacturer or the supplier of the PPE as to cleaning methods and substances to be used to ensure that the item is not damaged.

A person who designs, manufactures, imports or supplies personal protective equipment for use at a workplace has a duty of care to ensure that the equipment is so designed and constructed as to be safe and without risks to safety and health when used properly.

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