EHSO Guide to Assessing the Need
for Personal Protective Equipment:
A Guide for Small Business Employers

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Establishing a PPE Program

What is a PPE program?

This program sets out procedures for selecting, providing, and using PPE as part of your routine operation. A written PPE program is easier to establish and maintain as company policy and easier to evaluate than an unwritten one.

How do I develop a PPE program for my company?

You have already begun to establish a PPE program by thinking about how best to protect your employees from potential hazards. Use Checklist A for information on establishing a PPE program. Working through the PPE selection process in this guide will produce the foundation for your program. Then you will need to decide how to enforce PPE use at your facility, provide for any required medical examinations, and evaluate your PPE program.

[Checklist A - Establishing a PPE Program]

The Need For PPE

Who must provide PPE?

You must provide PPE for your employees if
bulletTheir work environment presents a hazard or is likely to present a hazard to any part of their bodies;



bulletTheir work processes present a hazard or are likely to present a hazard to any part of their bodies;



bulletDuring their work, they might come into contact with hazardous chemicals, radiation, or mechanical irritants;



bulletYou are unable to eliminate their exposure or potential exposure to the hazard by engineering, work practice, or administrative controls.How do I identify potential hazards in my workplace?

Begin with a survey of your workplace. Observe the environment in which your employees work. Ask employees how they perform their tasks. Look for sources of potential injury such as the following: bulletObjects that might fall from above.


bulletExposed pipes or beams at work level.


bulletExposed liquid chemicals.


bulletSources of heat, intense light, noise, or dust.


bulletEquipment or materials that could produce flying particles.

Checklist B at the end of this section will help you conduct this survey.

I have identified potential hazards.
Now what?

Determine if there are feasible engineering and work practice controls that could be used to avoid hazards.

[Text - What are work practice and engineering controls?]

All feasible engineering and work practice controls are in place, but my employees are still exposed to potential hazards. Is now the time to provide PPE?

Yes. You must examine each likely hazard very carefully and determine the nature of the threat the hazard poses to your employees. Then choose the appropriate PPE for protection against that hazard, and make sure that any PPE you choose will fit the employee(s) who must wear it. Next, train your employees in the proper use and care of the PPE you provide.

How do I get started assessing my workplace operations for PPE needs?

Use Checklist B to assess the work environment and procedures. Keep in mind, though, that this is not an exhaustive list of operations that could cause injury. Many workplace operations create hazards; all of them could not be listed here. If you don't find a specific task on the checklist bulletLook for similarities between your workplace operations and those listed here.


bulletTry to anticipate whether such operations also might create similar hazards, and


bulletRemember, an operation need only have the potential to cause injury to require PPE.

Once you have identified the tasks that require PPE, read the specific sections in the checklist to help you choose the appropriate PPE for your employees.

[Text - Machine Shop]

[Checklist B - Need for PPE] [Checklist B - Part 2] [Checklist B - Part 3]


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This page was updated on 30-Mar-2016