News header Mobile news header
12 April 2024

Javier Díaz Alonso (ASEPAL): “PPE should be adapted to suit the requirements of each individual and job.”

Reading time
4 min.
News sections

According to Javier Díaz Alonso, the technical manager of the Spanish Association of Manufacturers, Importers and Marketers of Personal Protective Equipment (ASEPAL), personal protective equipment (PPE) must comply with corresponding regulations and be adapted to the needs and characteristics of each person and type of work. Alonso explains the new features of the Guide for Contracting this equipment published by the association.

How important is it for companies to choose the right PPE?

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is the final line of defence for individuals working in environments where risks have not been eliminated by other preventive measures. Proper PPE selection is the primary means of ensuring safety. We must ensure that the equipment complies with the corresponding regulations and is adapted to the assessed protection needs, work particularities, and user characteristics and needs during exposure to risk.

Based on our experience, most selection processes only verify equipment compliance with applicable regulations, which is essential. However, this is just the first step. If the product does not comply with regulations, it cannot be sold in the market. Furthermore, PPE selection should always be based on the results of the corresponding occupational risk assessment. After clarifying factors such as the type and level of risk to which workers are exposed, there are additional considerations that must be considered.

What considerations would these be?

Firstly, it is important to select PPE that matches the level of protection required for the task. It is important to choose equipment that meets or exceeds the acceptable safety level. Choosing equipment with a lower safety level puts the worker at risk. However, equipment that provides more protection than necessary may create situations that discourage its use. For instance, a hearing protector with excessive noise-cancelling technology may cause the wearer to feel isolated and remove it more often. 

Moreover, it is essential to adapt PPE to the specific characteristics of the work and the individuals involved. This is a crucial factor that is often overlooked. It is common to find that equipment purchases are driven solely by price or uniformity among workers.

It is important to remember that PPE should be worn throughout the entire duration of exposure to the risk. This is typically equivalent to wearing it for the entire workday. We cannot require anyone to wear equipment that is too heavy, rigid, not breathable, or ill-fitting. Unfortunately, this is a common issue for female workers.

What are the objectives of ASEPAL's new Guide for Contracting Personal Protective Equipment?

Acquiring personal protective equipment (PPE) through supply contracts often leads to disputes between suppliers and purchasers, whether in the public or private sector. ASEPAL has prepared a document with guidelines to ensure that procurement specifications comply with applicable regulations, both for the public and private sector, and ensure the safety of required PPE. The document is based on years of experience.

The guide’s primary goal is to assist anyone tasked with drafting technical specifications to ensure that the PPE ultimately acquired not only adheres to current safety regulations but also fully satisfies the needs of workers.

What are the guide’s key points?

The ASEPAL document covers important topics. First, the guide provides an overview of the factors that should be considered when selecting PPE. The task's characteristics, employees' physical traits, and equipment certification requirements are emphasised. Another important point is the need to follow the manufacturer's instructions for using and maintaining PPE. This aspect is often overlooked, but it has a major impact on the health and safety of workers. Finally, the document lists the most common errors made when drafting technical specifications. These errors may include referencing incorrect regulations, specifying cleaning methods that are incompatible with PPE certification, or designing equipment that does not comply with regulations, particularly those related to high visibility.

Finally, the guide provides a checklist as a reminder of the essential aspects to consider when drafting technical specifications. By following this approach, we can help ensure that workers are equipped with safe and appropriate PPE to safeguard them while they carry out their duties.