Minimum Standards of Dress and Personal Protective Equipment - Policy

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1. Purpose and Objectives

This policy outlines the minimum dress and protective equipment standards for staff and students as set out in legislation and as enforced by management.

2. Definitions, Terms, Acronyms

PPE - Personal Protective Equipment

Act - The Work Health and Safety Act (Qld) 2011

3. Policy Scope/Coverage

This policy applies to all staff and students whose service requires them to work in a hazardous area. 

4. Policy Statement

The level of personal protection required for a worker will depend on the nature of the hazards that they work with or which they can encounter in their work area. The type of personal protection that is required must be determined by undertaking a risk assessment for the specific work activity. However, in laboratories, workshops and similar workplaces, it is appropriate and necessary to specify a minimum standard of dress and protective equipment.

The minimum standards for dress and protection for a workplace can be in excess of the requirements for a specific worker or work procedure. The minimum standards need to take account of the hazards that are present in the workplace for most of the time, and to consider the work of the group as a whole and not just that of an individual worker. For many tasks, protection can be needed in addition to the minimum standard. For example, in the case of chemical and biological laboratories the minimum standard of dress and protective equipment would be full length laboratory coat, safety glasses and closed-in shoes. Gloves will also be required to handle toxic, corrosive, pathogenic or radioactive substances.

The minimum dress and protective clothing standards for a workplace must be clearly stated when a staff member or student commences work and must be reinforced through refresher training as required. Many units address this requirement through an annual induction/refresher program that includes a range of Occupational Health and Safety and related issues.

5. Enforcement of Minimum Standards

The minimum dress and protective equipment standards are based on providing protection of the person against the foreseeable risk of injury and a knowledge that the protection will reduce that risk. These standards must be enforced by supervisors. Industrial and Work Health and Safety legislation, and the precedents of Common Law provide a very clear basis for enforcement of this standard.

Section 28 of the Work Health and Safety Act (Qld) 2011 requires "A worker or other persons at a workplace to:

(a) take reasonable care for his or her own health and safety; and

(b) take reasonable care that his or her acts or omissions do not adversely affect the health and safety of other persons; and

(c) comply, so far as the worker is reasonably able, with any reasonable instruction that is given by the person conducting the business or undertaking to allow the person to comply with this Act; and

(d) co-operate with any reasonable policy or procedure of the person conducting the business or undertaking relating to health or safety at the workplace that has been notified to workers.

Further guidance on protective clothing is provided by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland's How to manage work health and safety risks Code of Practice 2011.

Where a risk assessment indicates that particular items of PPE are required, University Faculties/Schools/Institutes must supply them and ensure that they are worn.

Failure to wear required PPE or failure to follow instructions for minimum dress standards are significant breaches of both legal and management requirements. They must be subject to the same type of management action that would apply to any serious breach of required work standards or performance. They cannot be ignored or condoned by lack of action. If the safety and legal basis of dress and protective clothing standards is clearly stated, staff and students will normally comply with them provided appropriate supervision is provided. In the rare cases of non-compliance, management must take appropriate disciplinary action.

Administrative controls and PPE should only be used:

  • when there are no other practical control measures available (as a last resort)
  • as an interim measure until a more effective way of controlling the risk can be used
  • to supplement higher level control measures (as back-up).

Regulation 44-47: The WHS Regulations include specific requirements if PPE is to be used at the workplace, including that the equipment is:

  • selected to minimise risk to health and safety
  • suitable for the nature of the work and any hazard associated with the work
  • a suitable size and fit and reasonably comfortable for the person wearing it
  • maintained, repaired or replaced so it continues to minimise risk
  • used or worn by the worker, so far as is reasonably practicable.

A worker must, so far as reasonably able, wear the PPE in accordance with any information, training or reasonable instruction.

The effective enforcement of minimum dress and protective equipment standards requires:

  • strong support from senior management;
  • clear written procedures circulated to all staff and students; and
  • continuing enforcement by supervisors.
Director, Health, Safety and Wellness Mr Jim Carmichael
Director, Health, Safety and Wellness Mr Jim Carmichael