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Personal Protection Checklist For Builders And Building Trades Contractors

Issued: October 1998

1. Have you identified your workers' personal protection needs?

Have a good look at the various types of work, the plant, equipment and chemicals used and the locations where work takes place. Any source of danger to workers' health or safety needs to be eliminated altogether or, where this is not practicable, the risks must be properly controlled. The best and most fool-proof ways to control risk is to isolate the source of danger from people or to use physical or presence-sensing guarding to prevent people coming into contact with the danger. But where this can not be done, or when it does not fully control the risk, use properly understood safe work procedures and the right combination of personal protective equipment (PPE) to fully safeguard workers.

2. Have you posted the necessary personal protection signs?

To be on the safe side, you should declare the entire site a safety helmet and protective footwear area, and post the safety signs for these prominently at site entrances. Signpost any particular areas where workers will need hearing protection, safety glasses, gloves or breathing masks. Post signs and notices in amenities sheds to remind workers of what types of PPE are needed for various types of work.

3. Have you made sure the right PPE has been provided?

If you are using PPE as a way of controlling risks, it is your responsibility to supply your workers with the right equipment. Insist that your supplier provides equipment complying with the appropriate Australian Standards and all necessary information on the correct fitting, cleaning and maintenance of the equipment. So far as possible, allow your workers to select the particular model so that it gives them maximum personal comfort. Comfortable PPE gets worn, while "one size fits all" PPE which is uncomfortable is only worn under sufferance.

4. Do your workers understand why they need PPE?

Take the time and effort to make sure your workers know what the possible consequences to their health and safety may be if they do not use the right PPE. If they properly understand what can go wrong, they are more likely to use PPE without being constantly told. If workers are reluctant to use PPE, encourage them to help you develop a better way to do the work so that they won't need PPE.

5. Are workers trained in the use of PPE?

Some types of PPE have particular, fitting, testing, cleaning and inspecting requirements. Where this is the case, make sure workers have been properly instructed in these procedures and can demonstrate them correctly.

6. Is PPE use being adequately monitored?

PPE is only as good as the degree to which it is properly used. Providing a worker with PPE and then failing to make sure it is being used is simply not good enough. Conduct regular checks. Insist that the rules for PPE are always followed. Take appropriate action to make this stick.

7. Is PPE being inspected and replaced as necessary?

Faulty PPE is sometimes worse than no PPE because it can give the worker a false sense of security. For example, the use of incompatible components in safety harness systems can cause the "roll out" of snap hooks which may result in a worker falling to their death. Make sure PPE is checked regularly for serviceability and compatibility.

8. Do you review your PPE needs?

New products come on to the market which may provide you with a way of controlling risks without the need for PPE any longer. For example, recent innovations in temporary guardrailing systems now mean there is a product to suit most types of roofing work, reducing the need to rely on safety harness systems. Also, new and improved PPE products are regularly being introduced. Keep up to date through trade magazines, your safety equipment supplier and your industry association.