Washington standards for personal protective equipment are designed to help protect workers from the hazards of exposures to harmful levels of chemicals, noise, dust, or radiation, as well as from injury due to hazards such as, but not limited to, flying particles, hot or sharp objects, and falling objects.

You must make sure that your employees have, use, and care for the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). PPE is an item or items used to protect the eyes, face, head, body, arms, hands, legs, and feet such as goggles, glasses, hard hats, gloves, hearing protection, safety shoes, respirators and fall protection equipment.

An important section of the Washington Labor and Industries PPE standard is a requirement that employers perform a hazard assessment of the jobs their employees perform to determine if hazards are present, or are likely to be present, which necessitate the use of PPE. If such hazards are identified, then the employer must select, provide and then require each affected employee use the types of PPE that will protect them from the hazards identified in the hazard assessment.

You must verify that a hazard assessment for PPE has been done at your workplace and complete a written certification (paper or electronic format) that includes the: (1) Name of the workplace. (2) Address of the workplace you inspected for hazards.

Finally, the employer must also train those requiring PPE to:

  • Use the equipment properly
  • Be aware of when PPE is necessary
  • Know what kind of equipment is necessary
  • Understand the limitations of PPE
  • Put on, adjust, wear and remove equipment
  • Proper care, maintenance, useful life, and disposal of PPE

Remember that while PPE is the last line of defense in worker protection, make sure that it’s not last on your list of safety and health priorities. If your school districts needs assistance in the assessment process or in the proper selection of PPE, consult your ESD 112 Loss Control Specialist.