Safety in the workplace should be a top priority for every team. Of course, the main reason for this is that employers have an ethical duty to provide a safe workplace. However, there are also major productivity and economic advantages of keeping people safe. Therefore, using a personal protective equipment inspection checklist is a good idea for any organization.
What Is a PPE Checklist?
A personal protective equipment checklist is more or less exactly what the name suggests: a checklist that helps ensure all the protective equipment for a team is present and ready for use. In the United States and many other countries, employers are required by law to provide a safe work environment for employees. In many cases, this includes issuing personal protective equipment.
PPE is clothing and other equipment worn by personnel to protect them while performing a task. For example, work gloves, safety glasses and helmets are all types of PPE.
It is important that this equipment is not only available to team members but also in good working order. Thus, PPE inspections are common on worksites. They involve checking that the appropriate PPE is readily available and is in good condition. This may be performed by a safety manager or by the workers who will be using the PPE, depending on the size of the team and other circumstances. Having a checklist makes this inspection process easier and more consistent.
What Are the Benefits of Having a PPE Inspection Checklist?
Workplace safety is no trivial matter. Using a PPE checklist can help you to ensure that you are providing a sufficiently safe work environment for all employees. These are some of the benefits:
- Consistent PPE Checks: By having a checklist, you can be sure that inspections are performed regularly and according to a consistent process. Thus, it is easier to ensure that defects do not slip through the cracks.
- Better Compliance With Safety Rules: Employers have to follow the rules of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and other regulatory bodies. Plus, companies may have their own rules to ensure safety. Having a checklist and a documented inspection process helps to ensure compliance.
- Faster Correction of Defects: From time to time, there will be defects with PPE. Having a documented process that centers around a checklist helps to correct such issues more efficiently. First, the inspection usually catches problems early. Second, having a clear process ensures that everyone knows how to deal with PPE issues.
- Increased Safety: Ultimately, the benefit of a PPE checklist is that it increases safety. It is a simple solution that can be implemented by any employer to make sure that PPE is always functional and ready for use. Better safety should be something that everyone can get behind.
What Should Be Included in a PPE Checklist?
The exact contents of the checklist depend on the needs of the work environment. Fortunately, you can likely find an industry-specific personal protective equipment checklist template. Alternatively, you could start from a generic template and fill in the details based on your team’s PPE needs.
In many organizations, the checklist is submitted as a report on the PPE. Thus, it can include a section for reporting defects.
Depending on the needs of the organization, the checklist may be used in a personal protective equipment audit. In such cases, the auditor may also examine the PPE while it is in use to ensure that it is being worn properly. For example, this may include checking that fall protection is properly anchored.
Productivity is not the main focus of compliance checklists, but these checklists can serve as an invitation to interrogate the purpose and outcomes of every task and process. The insights made available through checklists are of limited usefulness without a direct outlet for implementation. This is where a centralized platform for managing workflows and creating and completing checklists can be transformative.
What Are Common Types of Personal Protective Equipment?
There are a variety of types of PPE that can be used to protect employees against different hazards. Like any other equipment, PPE should be fitted to the task at hand. The following are a few categories of PPE along with examples. Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list.
- Eyes: Safety glasses are one of the most common types of PPE. Typically, eye safety is provided by glasses, goggles or face shields. Not every pair of safety glasses is well suited for all hazards. For example, some may protect better against dust than against splashes.
- Head: Helmets are commonly used for head protection. PPE may also sometimes be used to protect the neck. There is a wide range of styles of head protection.
- Ears: Earplugs or muffs are another common type of PPE. Hearing damage is likely in loud working environments if proper protection is not used. In some cases, hearing protection may also be connected to a communication system.
- Hands: Gloves are an important component of PPE. They may be work gloves on a construction site or latex gloves in a kitchen. Hand equipment protects both the hands from harm and a work product from touch. In some cases, full arm protection may be necessary.
- Feet: In many workplaces, appropriate shoes are required. However, this is not technically PPE. In some cases, special foot protection is required, such as steel-toed boots. Full-leg protection may be required in limited circumstances.
- Respiratory System: Respiratory protection can range from basic dust masks to full breathing apparatuses. This is typically important when there are fine particles or toxic fumes in the air.
- Full-Body: Certain PPE is designed for the whole body. This can include harnesses for fall protection, full-body hazardous material protection and similar items.
How Should a PPE Inspection Template Be Used?
A personal protective equipment checklist template can help you to quickly create a document for your inspection process. With the right template, you can be confident that your checklist will cover all the major bases. While you should not rely on a template to determine all of your PPE needs, it can be a good way to remind yourself of what is and isn’t needed.
Good documentation is at the center of every effective workflow. Having a high-quality PPE checklist template helps you maintain clear and effective communication throughout your safety team.
In short, using a template to help with your checklist needs is a great way to foster a safer work environment. It is in the best interests of every business to put a priority on PPE.
How Do Personal Protective Equipment Audit Procedures Work?
Audits should be a part of the safety culture in every organization. Ideally, they should be performed by someone who is not involved in the day-to-day operations of the team. This may be a safety officer, or it may be an outside safety auditor (better yet, it should be both at different times). Checking that the right PPE is being used and that it meets safety regulations helps to ensure that your team is safe.
OSHA and similar regulatory bodies also sometimes audit workplaces. However, this is relatively uncommon unless there are complaints or concerns that precipitate an audit.
Regardless of who is responsible for it, the process should involve a thorough inspection of the personal protective equipment as well as its use. After all, safety gear is not much help if it isn’t being used properly. Ideally, audits should be done without warning to ensure a realistic representation of the daily use of PPE.
How Can Automation Help With Your PPE Inspection Process?
Automation in your PPE inspection workflow can help to ensure that the process is faster, smoother and more consistent. For example, you can ensure that all the right forms are available digitally to inspectors at all times. Teams that have individual team members inspect their own equipment can use this to easily collect all the necessary records.
Similarly, automation can ensure that inspection reports are always delivered to the right people. For example, if additional personnel need to get involved with correcting a defect, reports with problems in them can be automatically sent to the appropriate team. Automation also helps to ensure that there is a lower chance of human error in the workflow.
Create a Safer Workplace With a PPE Inspection Checklist
With the right PPE checklist workflow, you can ensure that your business is running smoothly. Fluix makes creating digital, automated workflows easier. Learn more about how Fluix can support your safety management today.
Manage Personal Protective Equipment Better
- Identify tasks that require PPE
- Instruct on the use of PPE
- Prevent risks