Remember personal protective equipment protocols and training

July 6, 2020 By    
A job hazard analysis helps determine what type of PPE to use. Photo: robeo/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

A job hazard analysis helps determine what type of PPE to use. Photo: robeo/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

There sure has been a lot of talk about personal protective equipment (PPE) these days. So it seems like an appropriate time to remind folks about PPE, what kind is necessary and what type of training is required.

What is PPE?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration defines PPE as: “Personal protective equipment, commonly referred to as ‘PPE,’ is equipment worn to minimize exposure to hazards that cause serious workplace injuries and illnesses. These injuries and illnesses may result from contact with chemical, radiological, physical, electrical, mechanical or other workplace hazards. Personal protective equipment may include items such as gloves, safety glasses and shoes, earplugs or muffs, hard hats, respirators, or coveralls, vests and full body suits.”

What kind of PPE is necessary?

PPE is the last line of defense for safeguarding workers. It is needed when engineering or administrative controls such as ventilation or shift changes to reduce exposures, respectively, are unavailable or impractical.

In addition to safety data sheets, conducting a thorough job hazard analysis (JHA) is critical to identify tasks that could result in hazardous conditions that may require PPE.

When conducting a JHA, it is important to take a specific job and break it down into its various tasks to determine potential hazards per task. In the case of delivering propane to a residential customer:

  • Driver arrives at the customer’s home.
  • Driver exits the vehicle.
  • The driver first walks the property.
  • Driver unreels the hose.
  • Driver attaches the hose nozzle to the fuel tank and starts pumping.
  • Driver removes the hose nozzle from the tank.
  • Driver reels in the hose.
  • Driver returns to the truck.

Steps 5 and 6 identify potential exposures to liquid propane that could result in a frostbite injury to the hands and fingers, as well as the eyes, in the event the liquid propane splashes.

In this case, proper hand and eye PPE would be required as there are no suitable engineering or administrative controls. But what does “proper” mean?

Gloves must be rated by the manufacturer to protect against the type of exposure from which you are seeking protection.

Eye protection in the form of safety glasses or face shields must meet ANSI Z87.1 code requirements. Other ANSI standards govern requirements for head and foot protection.

JHAs can also reveal specific hazards requiring PPE that we might not have previously identified. During cylinder filling operations, the discharge of static electricity in the form of a spark could result in an ignition that can be avoided using a combination of engineering controls, such as static-resistant painting and footwear.

What about dispensing autogas? It used to be that hand protection was required. However, the current K15 autogas dispensing nozzles are engineered in a way that negates that requirement.

What type of training is required?

In addition to ensuring that workers are provided with proper PPE, those workers need training on why they are required to wear PPE; how to use, care for and maintain it; and its limitations.

  • Managers need to make sure this training is taken seriously and PPE is used.
  • Workers must not succumb to peer pressure not to use PPE.
  • PPE covered in dust is a sure indicator it is not being used.

Personal protective equipment can indeed be a real pain: It’s uncomfortable, uncool looking and time-consuming. But it’s not as painful as a severe injury.

Stuart Flatow spent 18 years as the Propane Education & Research Council’s vice president for safety and training before stepping down in February 2019. 

NOTE: The opinions and viewpoints expressed herein are solely the author’s and should in no way be interpreted as those of LP Gas magazine or any of its staff members.

Comments are currently closed.