The Council Directive 89/656/EEC of 30 November 1989 gives details on the minimum health and safety requirements for the use by workers of personal protective equipment at the workplace. The objective is to lay down minimum requirements for the assessment, selection and correct use of Personal Protective Equipment.
The person who makes the purchasing decision for PPE is the person who sets the Organisation’s parameters for protection of the persons who have to wear it. Therefore the decision-maker should have knowledge of the risks against which the PPE is supposed to protect and it is advisable that those who make the purchasing decision should receive training prior to purchasing, in order to ensure that an informed decision on purchase is reached.
Risk management involves the employer:
- Identifying the hazards;
- Assess the risk and
- Eliminate, remove or reduce the hazard
Where a hazard cannot be eliminated, removed or reduced to an acceptable level, it is necessary to introduce controls to ensure the safety of personnel. If the safety of personnel still cannot be sufficiently
ensured having done all that, only then should it be necessary to introduce PPE.
Therefore, persons working in the vicinity of or at energised parts of electrical systems need to be protected against the effects of possible electric arcing. All such work needs, first of all, to be subjected to a risk analysis, and the best possible technical and organisational safety systems should be used in order to reduce the risk as low as possible. Only in the last instance should protection be provided by PPE in the form of flame resistant protective clothing, hand, head and eye protection.
The employer has the ultimate responsibility for providing PPE that is fit for purpose and protects personnel whilst allowing them to carry out the work required in their workplace without unduly increasing the risk by the use of such PPE.