What you need to know
PIs, laboratory managers and shop supervisors are responsible for assessing all worksites for hazards and identifying the PPE needs for all employees, students and visitors who may be potentially exposed to the hazards.
Eliminate, substitute or design out exposure to hazards or hazardous operations, if possible. If not possible or feasible, the degree of hazard and engineering or administrative controls in place will determine what PPE is needed. If departments use PPE for hazard protection, the following items must be completed:
- Assess the workplace for hazards.
- Identify how to control the hazards; engineering and administrative controls should be used first and then PPE.
- Select appropriate PPE that fits properly and provide it to employees.
- Ensure PPE is used.
- Establish inspection, maintenance and replacement procedures to ensure damaged PPE is not used.
- Train employees in proper use, limitations, care and maintenance of PPE.
- Document hazard assessment, PPE selection and training.
- If changes occur in the workplace, including procedures or chemical use, reevaluate hazard assessment, PPE needs and training.
- Assess PPE use at least annually; determine improvements as needed
Due to the complexity of activities and work environments at UW, EH&S offers the Guidelines for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that addresses a number of hazards associated with commonly performed indoor and outdoor tasks and the PPE that can be worn for protection.
A laboratory-specific guidance document, Laboratory PPE Hazard Assessment Guide, is available to assist PIs and laboratory managers to identify laboratory hazards and the appropriate PPE.
For shop supervisors, see the Shop PPE Hazard Assessment Guide to identify shop hazards and appropriate PPE.
When a hazard assessment determines that no PPE is needed, simply document the assessment. However, remember that if a hazard exists that does not require PPE, other regulations or programs requiring the use of PPE may still apply.
The PPE user is responsible for following the requirements of the PPE program. This involves:
- Selecting PPE that fits and is comfortable when working
- Inspecting PPE prior to use, replacing gear as appropriate if defective
- Wearing PPE as required
- Attending site-specific PPE training sessions
- Cleaning and maintaining PPE as trained
- Informing the supervisor of the need to repair or replace PPE
To determine the appropriate PPE to wear, based on chemical and physical hazards encountered, consult with the PI or lab supervisor and review standard operating procedures (SOPs), safety fact sheets and other hazard information.
- Maintaining the PPE program, including worksite hazard assessment guidance documents and the relevant online content
- Advising PIs, lab managers and supervisors about material and physical hazards in work areas, specific PPE, and engineering and administrative controls
- Answer questions from employees on PPE issues
Contractors working at UW-owned or leased properties, not under the direct supervision of UW personnel, are responsible for following their company’s PPE policies and procedures. UW personnel shall not provide or train contractors on PPE.