What is personal protective equipment
Personal protective equipment is any device worn by a worker to protect against hazards. Some examples are respirators, gloves, ear plugs, hard hats, safety goggles, and safety shoes or boots.
What the law says
Section 25(1) under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) requires employers to
- provide equipment, materials and protective devices
- make sure they are used as prescribed
- maintain them in good condition
The OHSA also requires workers to use or wear the equipment, protective devices or clothing that has been prescribed.
How personal protective equipment affects your business
The best way to manage hazards in the workplace is to find ways to eliminate them. Sometimes, however, the use of personal protective equipment becomes the only option to prevent injury or illness and to protect workers from those hazards. Those injuries and illness can affect your employee morale, your production and quality, and also your company's bottom line.
- An average WSIB claim is $11,771
- Factor in other costs like lost productivity and staff replacement, and the cost can be as much as four times more - approximately $59,000 per injury
- With a profit margin of 5%, sales/services required to cover the total cost of one injury equals about $1.2 million
(Source: WSIB "Preventing Slips, Trips and Falls in the Workplace")
What you can do
PPE is considered the last line of defense against a workplace hazard, and is to be used only if the hazard cannot be eliminated or controlled in other ways. Establish a PPE program that will consider the hazards that require PPE, procedures for selection and fitting, maintenance and storage, monitoring use and training.