In order to prevent or reduce health risks, collective protection measures and protective equipment shall always be preferred over personal protective equipment. In other words, if the working environment can be made safer for everyone at once, it shall be preferred over an employee-based approach. Thus, the employer provides the employee with personal protective equipment if the risk of an accident or illness cannot be avoided in any other way.
An employer should explain the need to use personal protective equipment during the risk assessment of the working environment. The tables in the annexes to Government of the Republic Regulation No. 12 of 11 January 2000 Procedure for Selection and Use of Personal Protective Equipment help to map the risk factors for which it may be necessary to use personal protective equipment. After identifying the risk factors, the level of required protection is assessed and the required protection properties of the personal protective equipment are determined. In the event of changes in the working environment or work process, the assessment shall be repeated. When selecting personal protective equipment and determining the procedure for its use, the employer should take into account the proposals of employees and working environment representatives. If an employee feels that working without personal protective equipment poses a risk to his or her health, he or she should consult with the employer whether the use of personal protective equipment is necessary.
When selecting personal protective equipment, the employer shall ensure that it:
1. fully meets the need for protection;
2. does not place an excessive burden on the wearer or reduce the effect of the devices correcting the worker’s vision or hearing;
3. is suitable for the user;
4. is suitable for use in certain working conditions;
5. meets the requirements of ergonomics and corresponds to the employee’s state of health.
Personal protective equipment shall be compatible with the user’s physique. When selecting it, attention shall be paid to the adjustment and fastening options and size of the personal protective equipment. If several items of personal protective equipment are used, they should be compatible. It is a good idea to consult the distributor or a competent provider of occupational health services when selecting and using personal protective equipment.
Personal protective equipment is classified into three hazard categories based on the potential adverse health effects of the risk factors.
Category I covers only the following minimum hazards:
a) superficial mechanical damage (e.g. garden gloves, thimble);
b) contact with mild detergents or prolonged contact with water (e.g. protective gloves for working with diluted detergents);
c) contact with hot surfaces up to 50 °C (e.g. work gloves, protective apron);
d) eye damage due to exposure to sunlight (other than looking in the direction of the sun) (e.g. sunglasses);
e) non-extreme environmental conditions (e.g. headgear, seasonal clothing, footwear). Category II covers hazards other than those listed in categories I and III.
III This category only includes hazards which may have very serious consequences, such as death or irreversible damage to health, and which relate to:
a) substances and mixtures dangerous to health;
b) low oxygen environments;
c) harmful bioactive substances;
d) ionising radiation;
e) a high-temperature environment with effects comparable to those of an air temperature of at least 100 °C;
f) a low-temperature environment with effects comparable to those of an air temperature of –50 °C or lower;
g) falling from a height;
h) electric shocks and working with live parts;
j) cuts caused by hand-held saws;
k) high-pressure jets;
l) bullet wounds or stab wounds;
m) harmful noise.