Step 1: Hazard identification The fi rst step in selecting protective garments as part of a comprehensive personal protective equipment (PPE) programme is to conduct a detailed assessment of the working environment(s) concerned and the nature of the hazard(s) that are, or may be, present.

This risk analysis might take the following form:

1. Objectively identify the potential hazards including their sources and any associated trigger events. A suitable hazard assessment form or software package might be used for this purpose.

2. Determine those who might be affected by exposure to a hazard and in what circumstances.

3. Evaluate the risks and what steps are available for prevention, mitigation and protection. At all times consult with operatives and their representative bodies.

4. Incorporate the fi ndings into a formal risk assessment document which can be shared, and expanded as necessary.

5. Put the risk assessment fi ndings into practice, and make sure you have contingency plans in place for the unexpected.

6. Continuously re-examine procedures, training and equipment as necessary and periodically conduct a formal review of the entire risk assessment programme.

As part of this exercise the following are some of the questions that need to be asked:

9 What is the hazard format? Is it a gas, a liquid, a vapour or a particle? 9 Could the hazard react or change physical state during exposure? 9 What is the toxicity level of the substance concerned? 9 What is the quantity of the substance expected to contact the garment? 9 How long are the operators likely to be exposed to the hazard? 9 What other PPE will be used with the garment? 9 What is the temperature and humidity in the working environment? 9 What is the concentration of the chemical or substance involved? 9 What kind of job do the people perform and what is the risk of exposure?