Legislation on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) // Cleaning Sector

Author: Karabo Teffo

ISSUE

Whether legislation regulates the issues around PPE.

 

PRINCIPLES

According to the Occupational Health and Safety Act[1], employees working in environments where they may be exposed to risk or potential risk are required to wear personal  protective equipment (PPE). This particularly applies when engineering, work practice and administrative controls prove unfeasible or insufficient for protection. Employers are required to perform a risk assessment of all work activities and should it be found that employees may be exposed to any risk/possibility thereof, such employees are required by law to wear PPE – provided by the employer.

The General Safety Regulations (GSR) [2]impose a duty on employers to prohibit any such employees to work without the required safety equipment or facility provided and it is the employees responsibility to obey health and safety rules and procedures. PPE requirements are subject to the type of risk involved and are mainly for respiratory protection, hearing, sight, skin, head, foot, hand, and body protection.

The safety equipment and facilities contemplated in sub-regulation (2) [3]shall include, as may be necessary –

  1. suitable goggles, spectacles, face shields, welding shields, visors, hard hats, protective helmets, caps, gloves, gauntlets, aprons, jackets, capes, sleeves, leggings, spats, gaiters, protective footwear, protective overalls, or any similar safety equipment or facility of a type that will effectively prevent bodily injury;
  2. waterproof clothing, high-visibility clothing, chemical-resistant clothing, low temperature clothing, chain mail garments, waders, fire retardant or flame-proof clothing, ice-jackets, or any similar safety equipment of a type that will effectively protect the wearer thereof against harm;
  3. belts, harnesses, nets, fall arresters, life lines, safety hooks, or any similar equipment of a type that will effectively protect persons against falls;
  4. mats, barriers, locking-out devices, safety signs, or any similar facility that will effectively prevent slipping, unsafe entry or unsafe conditions;
  5. protective ointments, ear-muffs, ear-plugs, respirators, breathing apparatus, masks; air lines, hoods, helmets, or any similar safety equipment or facility of a type that will effectively protect against harm;
  6. suitable insulating material underfoot where persons work on a floor made of metal stone, concrete or other similar material; and
  7. generally, such safety equipment or facilities as may be necessary to render the persons concerned safe.

The above-mentioned items should be of standard quality, anything beyond that and costly should be discussed with the employer as to how the difference thereof will be covered.

[1] Act 85 of 1993.

[2] GSR 2 (6)

[3] Ibid

 

CONCLUSION

It is imperative for employers to perform a risk assessment of all work activities and identify any existence of risk/possibility thereof in order to determine the necessity of their employees to wear PPE. PPE is mandatory in instances where the work environment or scope of work poses risk and non-compliance with the regulation will lead to severe penalties on part of the employer – including a monetary fine or an instruction to shut-down business.

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