Personal Protective Equipment FAQs

Below is a list of frequently asked questions relating to personal protective equipment (PPE).

Please scroll down the list to locate the FAQ you need.

Personal Protective Equipment - Eye Protection

The purpose of these FAQs is to provide information on personal protective equipment (PPE) which may be required to minimise an eye risk at work.
Specific requirements may be outlined in the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulations 2012 (SA) and Approved Codes of Practice.  The references to the standards and resources have been included in these FAQs.
This information should be read in conjunction with the Hazard Management Handbook chapter.
Personal Protective Equipment is the least effective control measure.  This is because users have to remember to wear it, and it does nothing to minimise the underlying hazard.  For these reasons, higher level controls must first be considered.

(Printable version)

    Expand
  • When should eye protection be considered as a control measure?

    Where a risk of injury or illness still remains after all other control measures have been applied, a School/Branch may be able to further minimise the remaining risk, by the provision and use of suitable PPE to prevent damage to the eyes. Refer WHS Regulations 2012 (SA) [36].

    Generally this would be applied as a result of:

    • the School/Branch mandating the use of eye protection upon entry to the area as a general precaution such as in a workshop or laboratory, based on a reasonable assessment of the hazards in the area. 
    • a risk assessment for a task or process.

    Where eye protection is mandatory prior to entering an area, appropriate signage complying with AS 1319 (1994) “Safety signs for the occupational environment” must be displayed.

    Where eye protection has been mandated, there is a responsibility to ensure it is being worn. This responsibility applies to the person who has made the mandate and their delegates e.g. Head of School/Branch and Supervisors.

  • Can I use my prescription glasses as eye protection?

    Standard prescription glasses e.g. reading glasses are not considered suitable for eye protection as they do not provide any side protection. Standard prescription glasses may be worn when also wearing safety glasses which have been designed to fit over the top of prescription glasses.

  • What are some examples of hazards that require eye protection?

    Please refer to Table 1 and Table 2 for a list of hazardous activities and options to control the hazards arising from them.

    Table 1

    Hazardous activities and recommended eye protectors
    (extract from AS/NZS 1336 Eye and face protection - Guidelines)

    Typical processes giving rise to eye hazards Hazard (of the process) Typical methods of controlling hazards Suitable type of eye protectors (See Table 2)
    Workshop and Trade Work
    Manual chipping, riveting, spalling, hammering, handling wire and brick cutting Flying fragments and objects with low velocity or low mass Fixed or mobile screens Low impact
    Note: Medium impact (marked I) and high impact (marked V) will give greater protection
    Machine disc cutting of materials, scaling, grinding and machining metals, certain wood working operations, stone dressing Small flying particles with medium velocity or medium mass Fixed or mobile screens, exhaust systems, dust extractors, water Medium impact (marked I)
    Note: High impact (marked V) will give greater protection
    Use of explosive powered tools High velocity particles Fixed or mobile screens High impact (marked V)
    Timber sanding, textile trades, some chemical works, leather buffing Airborne dusts For indoor work - exhaust systems, dust extractors, suction conveyors
    For outdoor work - damping down of work area, sealing of dusty surfaces, use of large fixed or mobile screens
    Dust resistant (marked D) gas resistant (marked G)
    Pickling baths, metal cleaning, plating, handling corrosives Liquid splash of harmful liquids and corrosives Screens, catchments, splashguards, overflows, tilting apparatus and splash trays

     

     

    Splash resistant (marked C)
    Chemical processes, spray painting, aerosols Hazardous gases or vapours Enclosures and exhaust systems, screens, catchments Gas resistant (marked G)
    Chemical processes, spray painting, aerosols Hazardous liquid splashes Splashguards, overflows, tilting apparatus and splash trays Splash resistant (marked C)
    Welding, cutting, brazing, furnace work Visible, Ultra Violet and Infra Red radiation Fixed or mobile screens Marked in accordance with AS/NZS 1338 Parts 1, 2 or 3 as appropriate.
    Welding goggles or welding helmets with rearward facing indirect ventilation
    Manual chipping, riveting, spalling, hammering, handling wire and brick cutting Flying fragments and objects with low velocity or low mass Fixed or mobile screens Low impact
    Note: Medium impact (marked I) and high impact (marked V) will give greater protection
    Machine disc cutting of materials, scaling, grinding and machining metals, certain wood working operations, stone dressing Small flying particles with medium velocity or medium mass Fixed or mobile screens, exhaust systems, dust extractors, water Medium impact (marked I)
    Note: High impact (marked V) will give greater protection
    Use of explosive powered tools High velocity particles Fixed or mobile screens High impact (marked V)

    Table 2

    Recommended eye protectors to control residual risk

    Identification of eye protector and eye protector marking See AS/NZS 1337) Type of eye protector Purpose and application of eye protection
    Low Impact
    Low impact Safety spectacles, including side shields to provide additional protection Frontal protection to the eyes from low energy flying fragments and objects. Tinted lenses will provide a degree of protection from glare. Metal frames not suitable for electrical hazards.
    Wide vision goggles, with direct ventilation Frontal protection to the eyes from low energy flying fragments and objects. Tinted lenses will provide a degree of protection from glare. Metal frames not suitable for electrical hazards. Some types may be worn over prescription spectacles.
    Face shield, including neck guard to provide additional protection Protection provided to eyes, face, forehead and front of neck from low energy flying fragments and small particles. Tinted lenses will provide a degree of protection from glare.
    Low impact [marked C - splash resistant - optional] [marked D - dust resistant - optional] Wide vision goggles, with indirect ventilation Frontal protection to the eyes from low energy flying fragments and objects. Tinted lenses will provide a degree of protection from glare. Metal frames not suitable for electrical hazards. Splash or dust protection where marked.
    Hood and helmet incorporating an eye shield or face shield 'All round' protection to the eyes, head and neck from flying fragments and small particles. Respiratory protection may be provided (see AS/NZS 1715 and AS/NZS 1716). Splash or dust protection where marked.
    Medium Impact
    Medium impact [marked I - medium impact resistant] Wide vision safety spectacles incorporating side protection Frontal and side protection to the eyes from medium energy flying particles. Tinted lenses will provide a degree of protection from glare.
    Wide vision goggles, with direct and indirect ventilation All round' protection to the eyes from medium energy flying particles. Tinted lenses will provide a degree of protection from glare.
    Face shield, including neck guard to provide additional protection Provide protection to the eyes, face, forehead and front of neck from medium energy flying particles. Tinted lenses will provide a degree of protection from glare.
    Hood and helmet incorporating an eye shield or face shield 'All round' protection to the eyes, head and neck from medium energy flying particles. Tinted lenses will provide a degree of protection from glare.
    High Impact
    High impact [marked V - high impact resistant] Face shield, including neck guard to provide additional protection Provide protection to the eyes, face, forehead and front of neck from medium energy flying particles. Tinted lenses will provide a degree of protection from glare. Also from high energy flying fragments and small particles.
    Specific Substances
    Molten metal [marked M - molten metal resistant] Face shield and wire mesh screens with plastic lenses, including neck guard to provide additional
    protection
    Provide protection to the eyes, face, forehead and front of neck from medium energy flying particles. Tinted lenses will provide a degree of protection from glare. Also providing protection from molten metal and hot solids.
    Splashes [marked C - splash resistant] Wide vision goggles, with indirect ventilation Frontal protection to the eyes from low energy flying fragments and objects. Tinted lenses will provide a degree of protection from glare. Metal frames not suitable for electrical hazards. Splash or dust protection where marked and also providing protection from harmful liquids.
    Face shield or hood Protection provided to eyes, face, forehead and front of neck from low energy flying fragments and small particles. Tinted lenses will provide a degree of protection from glare.
    OR
    'All round' protection to the eyes, head and neck from flying fragments and small particles. Respiratory protection may be provided (see AS/NZS 1715 and AS/NZS 1716). Splash or dust protection where marked, and also providing protection from harmful liquids and splashing materials.
    Dust [marked D -dust resistant] Goggles, all types, with indirect ventilation Frontal protection to the eyes from low energy flying fragments and objects. Tinted lenses will provide a degree of protection from glare. Metal frames not suitable for electrical hazards. Splash or dust protection where marked and also providing protection against dust particles and aerosols.
    Gas [marked G - gas resistant] Goggles, all types, without ventilation Frontal protection to the eyes from low energy flying fragments and objects. Tinted lenses will provide a degree of protection from glare. Metal frames not suitable for electrical hazards. Splash or dust protection where marked and also providing protection against harmful gases and vapours.
    Specific Substances
    Non-ionising radiation [marked with Shade No.]

    Safety spectacles with filter lenses and opaque side shields

    Depending on filter used will provide protection, e.g. for welders' assistants against ultraviolet or infrared radiation.
    (a) AS 1338.1, Table 2.2 for gas welding filters (up to shade 3).
    (b) AS 1338.2 for ultraviolet filters.
    (c) AS 1338.3 for infrared filters.

    Non-ionising radiation [marked with Shade No.] Goggle, opaque frames, with indirect ventilation Depending on filter used will provide protection for gas welding and ultraviolet or infrared radiation. For recommended filters, see
    (a) AS 1338.1, Table 2.2 for gas welding filters
    (b) AS 1338.2 for ultraviolet filters
    (c) AS 1338.3 for infrared filters
    Welding helmets all types and hand shields Depending on filter used will provide protection for arc welding. For recommended filters, see AS 1338.1 for Arc welding filters.
    Laser Safety spectacles or goggles, incorporating optical filters See AS/NZS IEC 60825.14 Safety of laser products – part 14: a user’s guide.
    Ionising radiation (Beta only) Safety spectacles made of polycarbonate or other plastic Plastic lens will provide significant absorption of beta radiation. See AS 2243.4 Safety in Laboratories, part 4, Ionizing Radiations
  • What instruction may be needed for eye protection?

    Workers may need to be instructed by their Manager/Supervisor or by the person directing the work, on the nature of the work and how to implement the control measures.  The instruction includes the selection of eye protection of a suitable size, fit and comfort for the individual, prior to commencing the task/activity.

    Instruction could be provided either:

    • during the local induction if the task/activity is conducted on a regular basis; or
    • prior to conducting the activity if it is a new task/activity.
  • What are the maintenance requirements for eye protection?

    Where workers are required to wear eye protection, the School/Branch is required under WHS Regulation 44 to ensure that the equipment is maintained, repaired and/or replaced so that it continues to minimise the risk to the worker who uses it. This includes ensuring that the PPE is clean and hygienic.

    Where a maintenance regime for any PPE exists, refer to the Schedule of Programmable Events chapter.  A pre-use inspection should always be conducted to ensure that the PPE is in good working order.

  • Where can I obtain further information about eye protection?

Personal Protective Equipment - Hand Protection

The purpose of these FAQs is to provide information on personal protective equipment (PPE) which may be required to minimise a hand risk at work.
Specific requirements may be outlined in the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulations 2012 (SA) and Approved Codes of Practice.  The references to the standards and resources have been included in these FAQs.
This information should be read in conjunction with the Hazard Management Handbook chapter.
Personal Protective Equipment is the least effective control measure.  This is because users have to remember to wear it, and it does nothing to minimise the underlying hazard.  For these reasons, higher level controls must first be considered.

(Printable version)

Personal Protective Equipment - Head and Face Protection

The purpose of these FAQs is to provide information on personal protective equipment (PPE) which may be required to minimise an head or face risk at work.
Specific requirements may be outlined in the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulations 2012 (SA) and Approved Codes of Practice.  The references to the standards and resources have been included in these FAQs.
This information should be read in conjunction with the Hazard Management Handbook chapter.
Personal Protective Equipment is the least effective control measure.  This is because users have to remember to wear it, and it does nothing to minimise the underlying hazard.  For these reasons, higher level controls must first be considered.

(Printable version)

    Expand
  • When should head and/or face protection be considered as a control measure?

    Where a risk of injury or illness still remains after all other control measures have been applied, a School/Branch may be able to further minimise the remaining risk, by the provision and use of suitable PPE to prevent damage to the head and/or face. Refer WHS Regulations 2012 (SA) [36].

    Generally this would be applied as a result of:

    • the School/Branch mandating the use of head and/or face protection upon entry to the area as a general precaution such as in a workshop or laboratory, based on a reasonable assessment of the hazards in the area.
    • a risk assessment for a task or process, e.g. the use of hazardous chemicals where specific PPE would be prescribed to manage the hazard e.g. type of goggles, face shield, hood or helmet, screens or exhaust systems.  This risk assessment should take into account the environment that the worker is in e.g. communicating with others in the area who may also need to wear PPE.


    Typically head protection would be considered as a control measure where there is a risk of a person:

    • being struck on the head by a falling object;
    • striking his/her head against a fixed object; or
    • making head contact with electrical hazards.


    Typically  face protection would be considered as a control measure where a person may be at risk of coming into contact with:

    • hazardous chemicals, infectious substances, gasses or vapours (e.g. being splashed);
    • flying objects (e.g. where tools or machines may cause particles or debris to fly);
    • UV radiation (e.g. from welding or excessive exposure to direct sunlight);
    • excessive heat.

    Where head and/or face protection is mandatory in an area, appropriate signage complying with AS 1319 (1994) “Safety signs for the occupational environment” must be displayed.

  • What types of head and/or face protection are available?

    From AS/NZS 1800:1998 “Occupational protective helmets – Selection, care and use”

    • Type 1—Industrial: This type of helmet was formerly known as the industrial safety helmet.
      It is suitable for work in the construction industry and engineering.
    • Type 2 — High temperature workplaces.
    • Type 3 — Bushfire fighting.

    NOTE:  Different optional or additional design and performance requirements are specified in AS/NZS 1801 (1997) “Occupational protective helmets”.  They may be specifically requested by a user, e.g. a Type 1 helmet intended to be worn by people engaged in underground mining may have retro-reflective marking and use specific accessories (see AS/NZS 1800:1998- Appendix A).

    In some cases, the helmet is not intended to be used by itself but only together with other personal protective equipment, such as with a face shield and a powered air purifying respirator.  In order for the respirator to comply with AS/NZS 1716 “Respiratory protective devices” and the face shields to comply with AS/NZS 1337 “Personal eye protection”, all components of the system should be used together. The manufacturer’s instructions should be followed, especially as to the compatibility of spare parts.

  • What are the best techniques for care of safety helmets?

    From AS/NZS 1800:1998 “Occupational protective helmets – Selection, care and use”

    • Follow the manufacturer's cleaning and maintenance instructions.
    • Destroy any helmets that receive any significant impact, damage or deterioration to the shell.  
      (Attention is drawn to the fact that helmets complying with AS/NZS 1801 (1997) “Occupational protective helmets” are required to contain a safety warning regarding damage due to impact and deterioration.)
    • Discard any helmets with excessive discolouration of the shell colour, weathering of the surface which may indicate a loss of strength, with splitting or cracking of the material.
    • Mark the helmet with the date of issue to the wearer.
    • Note: field tests have shown helmet shells generally have a life of at least three years from the time of issue. Components of harnesses (webbing support inside the helmet) may deteriorate more rapidly in service and harnesses should, therefore, be replaced at intervals not longer than two years.  For helmets that are used infrequently and stored away from sunlight, dirt and temperature extremes, this guideline/recommendation may not be applicable.
  • What should I avoid doing to safety helmets to improve their longevity?

    The following practices are considered detrimental to the safe working life and performance of the helmet and should be avoided:

    • Storage or placement of helmets near any window, particularly the rear window of motor vehicles through which excessive heat can be generated.  NOTE: Helmets placed on the rear window ledge of motor vehicles may also become dangerous missiles in the event of an accident or when sudden braking occurs.
    • The helmet may be damaged and rendered ineffective by petroleum and petroleum products, cleaning agents, paints or adhesives and similar products, without the damage being visible to the user.  Before any application of adhesive tape, advice should be sought to ensure that the tape adhesive will not degrade the shell material.  Generally, self-adhesive pads or stickers have been found not to affect the shell material adversely.
    • Aerosol sprays, such as insect repellents, may also damage and render the helmet ineffective without the damage being visible to the user.
    • Alteration, distortion or damage to the shell, e.g. splits and cracks, or to the harness, especially if such alteration reduces the clearance between the shell and the wearer’s head (Note – harness refers to the complete assembly by which the helmet is maintained in position on the head).
    • The use of safety helmets for any other purpose than that for which they are designed, e.g. as seats, liquid receptacles or wheel chocks.
    • The practice of carrying any object inside the helmet when it is being worn, e.g. cigarette lighters, matches, pens or disposable respirators.
    • The use of a harness (webbing support inside the helmet) other than that specified by the manufacturer, i.e. another make or model.
  • Can I alter a safety helmet?

    Any unauthorised alterations to helmets, e.g. drilling of holes in helmets, should not be made, as such alterations:

    Accordingly, where alterations to a helmet are contemplated, advice should be sought from the manufacturer.

  • What instruction may be needed for head and face protection?

    Where a risk assessment control measure includes the requirement to wear or use head and/or face protection, it is important that workers are instructed by their Manager/Supervisor or the person who is directing the work, on the nature of the work and how to implement the control measures. Instructions should also include the selection of a suitable size, fit and comfort for the individual, prior to commencing the activity.

    Instruction could be provided either:

    • during the local induction if the task/activity is conducted on a regular basis; or
    • prior to conducting the activity if it is a new task/activity.  
  • Who is responsible for the maintenance requirements for head and face protection?

    Where workers are required to wear head and/or face protection, the School/Branch is required under WHS Regulation 44 to ensure that the equipment is maintained, repaired and/or replaced so that it continues to minimise the risk to the worker who uses it. This includes ensuring that the PPE is clean and hygienic.

    Where a maintenance regime for any PPE exists, refer to the Schedule of Programmable Events chapter.  A pre-use inspection should always be conducted to ensure that the PPE is in good working order.

  • Where can I obtain further information about head and face protection?

Personal Protective Equipment - Hearing Protection

The purpose of these FAQs is to provide information on personal protective equipment (PPE) which may be required to minimise a hearing risk at work.
Specific requirements may be outlined in the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulations 2012 (SA) and Approved Codes of Practice.  The references to the standards and resources have been included in these FAQs.
This information should be read in conjunction with the Hazard Management Handbook chapter.
Personal Protective Equipment is the least effective control measure.  This is because users have to remember to wear it, and it does nothing to minimise the underlying hazard.  For these reasons, higher level controls must first be considered.

(Printable version)

    Expand
  • When should hearing protection be considered as a control measure?

    Where a risk of injury or illness still remains after all other control measures have been applied, a School/Branch may be able to further minimise the remaining risk, by the provision and use of suitable PPE to prevent damage to hearing. Refer WHS Regulations 2012 (SA) [36].

    Generally this would be applied as a result of:

    • the School/Branch mandating the use of hearing protection upon entry to the area as a general precaution such as in a workshop or laboratory, based on a reasonable assessment of the hazards in the area. 
    • a risk assessment for a task or process, e.g. the use of hazardous chemicals where specific PPE would be prescribed to manage the hazard e.g. type of goggles, gloves, face shield, hood or helmet, screens or exhaust systems.  This risk assessment should take into account the environment that the worker is in e.g. communicating with others in the area who may also need to wear PPE.

    Where hearing protection is mandatory in an area, appropriate signage complying with AS 1319 (1994) “Safety signs for the occupational environment” must be displayed.

  • When is audiometric testing required?

    Where workers are frequently required to wear hearing protection as an identified control, audiometric testing will be required. See the Noise and Sound Safety Management chapter for more information.

  • Are there noise volume limits?

    Yes. In accordance with the WHS Regulations 2012 (SA)  [56] the exposure standards to noise, measured in decibels (dB), are as follows:

    • Limit of 85dB(A) over an 8 hour working day;
      (Exposures will vary based on the location and activity, however as a guide consider that the limit of 85dB(A) over 8 hrs is also the equivalent of a continuous exposure of 88dB(A) over 4 hours, 91 dB(A) over 2 hours, 94dB(A) over 1 hr, 97dB(A) over 30 minutes, 100dB(A) over 15 minutes.); and
    • Peak of 140dB(C) sound pressure. (The impulse noise should not exceed 140dB(C) at any instant in time).

    If you believe that you are approaching these levels, please refer to the Noise and Sound Safety Management chapter.

  • What types of hearing protection are available?

    Earplugs

    Earplugs are available in three types:

    • Disposable, which are for single use and the cheapest option.
    • Pre-shaped, which cover or insert into the auditory canal. These are reusable and washable.
    • Custom moulded earplugs, which are made-to-measure and are the most effective.
    Disposable and Pre-shaped

    Advantages of disposable and pre-shaped earplugs:

    • Easily available and fit most users.
    • No additional load on the head (such as with earmuffs).
    • More comfortable in a warm environment than earmuffs.
    • Minimal or no interference with other PPE.
    • Directional hearing is not affected.


    Disadvantages of disposable and pre-shaped earplugs:

    • Level of protection is very dependent on correct fitting.
    • Can come loose slowly, so regular re-fitting is needed.
    • Can be uncomfortable due to the pressure in the ear canal.
    • Limited choice in noise reduction levels.
    • Proper function can be dependent on ear canal geometry.
    Custom-moulded earplugs

    Advantages of custom-moulded earplugs:

    • Maximal wearing comfort.
    • Easy and safe to fit.
    • Provide a high level of protection.
    • Availability of materials to achieve the best level of noise reduction and sound perception.
    • Practical in dirty environments.

    Disadvantages of custom-moulded earplugs:

    • Require a production time before they are available for use.
    • Are specific to a person.

    Earmuffs

    Earmuffs enclose the ear and seal to the head with soft cushions. An acoustic foam inside provides the majority of the noise reduction. A head band connects the cups and provides the necessary sealing force. This band can be over the head, neck, or chin, and can also be part of a helmet. Advantages:

    • Simple to use.
    • Easily available and fit most users.
    • Minimises auditory canal problems (no insertion of objects, and protection from dirt ingress).
    • Effective reduction of high frequency sounds.
    • Available in a range of specifications to achieve the most appropriate level of frequency and noise level attenuation.


    Disadvantages:

    • Adds weight and pressure to the head.
    • Uncomfortable in warm climates or work areas.
    • Less effective with low frequency noises.
    • Loss of "directional hearing".
    • Some compatibility issues with other PPE such as safety glasses.
  • What effects can noise have at the workplace?

    • Auditory effects of noise (e.g. tinnitus or hearing loss);
    • Prolonged constriction of blood vessels;
    • Increased stress levels; and
    • Reduced performance in work requiring thought and sustained intellectual effort. 
  • What should I do if I have concerns about noise exposure?

    In the first instance, please refer to the Noise and Sound Safety Management chapter. If there are any concerns about noise exposure in the University, your supervisor/manager or Health and Safety Officer should be contacted to organise a noise level assessment of the area.

  • What should I consider when selecting hearing protection?

    The following factors should be considered when choosing hearing protection:

    • the level of noise reduction required;
    • the working conditions (heat, dust etc);
    • suitability of the hearing protection with the task;
    • the clamping force (of earmuff cushions) where relevant; and/or
    • suitability for use with other forms of PPE.
  • What instruction may be needed for hearing protection?

    Where a risk assessment control measure includes the requirement to wear or use hearing protection, it is important that workers are instructed by their Manager/Supervisor or the person who is directing the work, on the nature of the work and how to implement the control measures.  This will also include the selection of a suitable size, fit and comfort for the individual, prior to commencing the activity.

    Instruction could be provided either:

    • during the local induction if the task/activity is conducted on a regular basis; or
    • prior to conducting the activity if it is a new task/activity.  
  • What are the maintenance requirements for hearing protection?

    Where workers are required to wear hearing protection, the School/Branch is required under WHS Regulation 44 to ensure that the equipment is maintained, repaired and/or replaced so that it continues to minimise the risk to the worker who uses it. This includes ensuring that the PPE is clean and hygienic.

    Where a maintenance regime for any PPE exists, refer to the Schedule of Programmable Events chapter.  A pre-use inspection should always be conducted to ensure that the PPE is in good working order.

  • Where can I obtain further information about hearing protection?

Personal Protective Equipment - Protective Clothing and Footwear

The purpose of these FAQs is to provide information on personal protective equipment (PPE) which may be required to minimise a risk at work.
Specific requirements may be outlined in the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulations 2012 (SA) and Approved Codes of Practice.  The references to the standards and resources have been included in these FAQs.
This information should be read in conjunction with the Hazard Management Handbook chapter.
Personal Protective Equipment is the least effective control measure.  This is because users have to remember to wear it, and it does nothing to minimise the underlying hazard.  For these reasons, higher level controls must first be considered.

(Printable version)

    Expand
  • When should protective clothing and footwear be considered as a control measure?

    Where a risk of injury or illness still remains after all other control measures have been applied, a School/Branch may be able to further minimise the remaining risk, by the provision and use of suitable PPE to prevent damage to the body. Refer WHS Regulations 2012 (SA) [36].

    Generally this would be applied as a result of:

    • the School/Branch mandating the use of specific clothing and footwear upon entry to the area as a general precaution such as in a workshop or laboratory, based on a reasonable assessment of the hazards in the area.
    • a risk assessment for a task or process, e.g. the use of hazardous chemicals where specific PPE would be prescribed to manage the hazard e.g. type of goggles, gloves, face shield, hood or helmet, screens or exhaust systems.  This risk assessment should take into account the environment that the worker is in e.g. communicating with others in the area who may also need to wear PPE.

    Where protective clothing and/or footwear is mandatory in an area, appropriate signage complying with AS 1319 (1994) “Safety signs for the occupational environment” must be displayed.

  • What types of protective clothing are available?

    The choice of protective clothing will depend on several factors, including the substances being worked with and the task performed. Protective clothing can be loosely categorised as providing protection from:

    • hazardous chemicals;
    • heat and cold;
    • harmful radiation (excluding ionising radiation);
    • mechanical hazards, and
    • biological hazards (e.g. blood).

    The protective clothing must not create an additional hazard (e.g. dust coats worn near rotating machinery).

  • What instruction may be needed for protective clothing?

    Where a risk assessment control measure includes the requirement to wear or use protective clothing, it is important that workers are instructed by their Manager/Supervisor or the person who is directing the work, on the nature of the work and how to implement the control measures.  This will also include the selection of a suitable size, fit and comfort for the individual, prior to commencing the activity.  This instruction could be provided during the local induction if the task/activity is conducted on a regular basis or prior to conducting the activity if it is a new task/activity.

  • What are the maintenance requirements for protective clothing?

    Where workers are required to wear protective clothing, the School/Branch is required under WHS Regulation 44 to ensure that the equipment is maintained, repaired and/or replaced so that it continues to minimise the risk to the worker who uses it. This includes ensuring that the protective clothing is clean and hygienic.

    Where a maintenance regime for any PPE exists, refer to HSW Chapter Schedule of Programmable Events.  A pre-use inspection should always be conducted to ensure that the protective clothing and footwear is in good working order.

  • What are the storage requirements of protective clothing?

    Protective clothing and footwear should be stored to ensure it remains effective and in good order. It should be stored separately from other items, e.g. in a plastic bag.

  • What should I do if I contaminate my protective clothing/lab coat?

    Any contaminated protective clothing and/or foot wear should be immediately sealed in a plastic bag e.g. autoclave bag, to isolate the contamination. Contact your supervisor to discuss the possibility of decontamination. If decontamination cannot be conducted, please dispose of the clothing as waste (of the type of substance it has been contaminated by).

  • When should protective clothing be worn?

    In general, protective footwear should be worn to reduce injuries to feet resulting from:

    • contact with falling, rolling or cutting objects;
    • penetration through the sole or uppers;
    • degloving (epidermis pulled away from the feet);
    • explosions and electrical hazards;
    • contact with hazardous chemicals, heat and molten metals; and
    • slipping.

    Refer to AS/NZS 2210.1 “Occupational protective footwear – Guide to selection, care and use

  • Where can I obtain further information about protective clothing?

Personal Protective Equipment - Respiratory Protection

The purpose of these FAQs is to assist users with the selection use and maintenance of suitable respiratory protection equipment and to protect against substances which could enter the body through the respiratory system.
Specific requirements may be outlined in the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulations 2012 (SA) and Approved Codes of Practice.  The references to the standards and resources have been included in these FAQs.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is the least effective control measure as it does nothing to minimise the underlying hazard. PPE relies on human behaviour and supervision. For these reasons, you need to do a risk assessment to identify higher level control measures before relying on PPE.
This information should be read in conjunction with the Hazard Management Handbook chapter.

(Printable version)

    Expand
  • When should Respiratory Protection Equipment (RPE) be considered as a control measure?

    Where a risk of injury or illness still remains after all other control measures have been applied, the Supervisor/Person in control of the area/activity may be able to further minimise the remaining risk, by the provision and use of suitable RPE to prevent damage to the respiratory tract and system. Refer WHS Regulations 2012 (SA) [36].

    Respiratory protection is required where it is reasonably foreseeable that the operator could be exposed to a substance, agent or contaminant after all other practicable controls have been implemented.  Respiratory protection (or Respiratory Protection Equipment, RPE) should only be used as a short-term control measure.  Where possible a fume cupboard or other extraction device should be used to minimise the need for RPE

    In special situations:

    • the Faculty/Division/Area may mandate the use of breathing protection upon entry to the area as a general precaution such as in a workshop or laboratory, based on a reasonable assessment of the hazards in the area.
    • as a part of the emergency contingency measures, RPE may be required if the substance is spilt outside of a containment area (e.g. fume cupboard, glove box etc). This would allow clean up with no exposure to the individual.
      Note: Where there is a life-threatening risk to any workers or others in the area (i.e. immediate health effects) in the event of a spill, the Emergency Services (MFS) should be contacted in lieu of using RPE, by dialling (0) 000. This should be determined, recorded and communicated to workers when completing the risk assessment for the activity or when they are provided information/instruction by the Supervisor during their induction.

    Where breathing protection is mandatory in an area, appropriate signage complying with AS 1319 (1994) “Safety signs for the occupational environment” must be displayed.

  • What types of Respiratory Protection Equipment (RPE) are available?

    Breathing protection can be categorised into two types:

    • Air-purifying devices
      These are designed to filter contaminated air before it is inhaled by personnel.  They exist as either disposable respirators or non-disposable respirators with disposable filters.
    • Air-supplied devices
      These deliver clean air from an independent supply to the wearer.  Air-supplied respirators are often used for toxic or oxygen-deficient atmospheres and confined spaces.
  • What are the selection, use and maintenance requirements of Respiratory Protection Equipment (RPE)?

    Where RPE is required to be worn, a respiratory protection program must be established by the Faculty/Division/Area per AS/NZS 1715: Selection, Use and Maintenance of Respiratory Protective Equipment.

    The program includes procedures specific to your worksite intended to prevent you from inhaling harmful contaminants in your workplace. The program requires the development of procedures for the following:

    • Appointment of a program administrator;
    • Selection of RPE;
    • Medical screening of users of RPE;
    • Information, instruction and training;
    • The issue of RPE;
    • The fitting of equipment;
    • Wearing of RPE;
    • Disposal of equipment;
    • Record keeping;
    • Program evaluation.

    For specific requirements please refer to Standard AS/NZS 1715.

  • What is the role of the Supervisor/Person in control of the area/activity when Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) is a control measure?

    The Supervisor/Personal in control is to ensure:

    • that the appropriate RPE is used and worn by the worker;that the workers are provided with the appropriate level of information, instruction and training (as applicable) in the use, maintenance and storage of the RPE;
    • that the RPE is used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions;
    • that the RPE does not interfere with any medical conditions of the worker using it and is a suitable size and fit;
    • that appropriate signs are used to remind workers where it must be worn;
    • that the RPE is periodically assessed to ensure it is and continues to be effective;
    • that the RPE is maintained, repaired or replaced and stored correctly (It is clean, hygienic and in good working order) so that it continues to minimise risk to the worker.
  • What is the role of the worker when Respiratory Protection Equipment (RPE) is required to be worn?

    Workers are required to:

    • use or wear the equipment in accordance with any information/instruction provided by their Supervisor/Person in control of the area/activity or by a registered training organisation where a competency is required; and
    • to report if there is any damage or defect relating to the equipment.
  • What should I do if Respiratory Protection Equipment (RPE) affects communication?

    If the use or wearing of equipment affects communication, it is important that appropriate steps are taken to ensure that the situation does not create additional risk to the operator.  This should be considered in the risk assessment of the activity.  (Refer to the HSW Handbook Chapter Hazard Management chapter for further information on this process.)

  • Can Respiratory Protection Equipment (RPE) be shared by workers?

    The sharing of equipment presents a hygiene risk and therefore RPE should be provided for exclusive use or sterilised after each use.

  • What instruction may be needed for Respiratory Protection Equipment (RPE)?

    Where a risk assessment control measure includes the requirement to wear or use RPE, it is important that workers are provided with the relevant level of information/instruction/training by their Supervisor or the person who is directing the work, on the nature of the work, how to correctly fit the RPE and the limitations of the RPE. This will also include suitable selection, fit and comfort for the individual, prior to commencing the activity. This information/instruction/training could be provided during the local induction if the task/activity is conducted on a regular basis or prior to conducting the activity, if it is a new task/activity. The frequency will depend on the complexity of the activity and the level of risk. To determine the level of information/instruction/training and requirements for record keeping refer to the HSW Handbook chapter HSW Training Plan.

  • What are the storage requirements for Respiratory Protection Equipment (RPE)?

    Users should consult manufacturers’ instructions, particularly with regard to storage recommendations. Considerations should be made for prevention of:

    • Damage & distortion to face pieces.
    • Contact with foreign particles, atmospheres and substances which could cause deterioration.
    • Contamination, particularly for breathing equipment used to supply air to a person.
  • Where can I obtain further information about Respiratory Protection Equipment (RPE)?

  • Where can I find more information on Respiratory Protection?

    If you would like more information about the Personal Protective Equipment chapter of the HSW Handbook please contact your local HSW contact.

Further information

Please contact your local HSW team.