PPE for first responders and recovery workers: Have a plan


When a natural disaster, biological incident or other event occurs, first responders and recovery workers often rush to the scene. That means it’s crucial they have the proper personal protective equipment ready and know how to use it.

To aid in this, employers need to develop a disaster-specific safety and health plan. Part of that plan, according to OSHA, is conducting a hazard assessment to determine what hazards workers could encounter and then reassessing if conditions change. Other parts of the plan:

  • Clearly detail the responsibilities of workers.
  • Follow the Hierarchy of Controls.
  • Determine what PPE workers will need.
  • Train each worker required to use PPE in a language they understand.
  • Provide medical exams and/or fit testing, as required by OSHA standards.
  • Regularly review and update workers’ PPE needs as job tasks and hazards change.

Workers play a role as well. They need to:

  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using, maintaining, inspecting, cleaning and storing PPE.
  • Know which type of PPE is needed.
  • Understand the limitations of PPE.
  • Know how to put on, adjust, wear and take off PPE.

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