Personal protective equipment, or PPE, is designed to protect workers from serious workplace injuries or illnesses. This protection should be worn to protect from contact with chemical, radiological, physical, electrical, mechanical, or other workplace hazards.
Besides face shields, safety glasses, hard hats, and safety shoes, protective equipment includes a variety of devices and garments such as goggles, coveralls, gloves, vests, earplugs, and respirators.
One should think about the following;
- PPE should always be the last consideration
- Ask yourself first: Can I eliminate the hazard completely?
- Is there a possibility of substituting with something else?
- Can I engineer out the hazard?
- What about my administration controls, training, policies?
- And finally – PPE considerations?
Briefly, some PPE we see in all industries:
Hard hats – when workers are exposed to overhead hazards, hard hats should be worn
Eye protection – those workers grinding, sawing, chipping etc. should wear eye protection such as safety glasses, face shields or goggles
Hand protection – workers encounter many hand hazards with chemicals, sharp objects and material that can cause hand injuries. Gloves made for each type of exposure are available.
Safety vests – are used to keep workers visible to those around them, especially when exposed to vehicle traffic.
Protective clothing – is used to shield bodies against hazards in the workplace. Examples are: exposure to heat, radiation, hot metals, scalding liquids, bodily fluids, hazardous materials or waste.
When exposure to Arc Flash, hot work, or refinery hazards exist, fire-retardant wool and or cotton are used in whole-body personal protective equipment.
Footwear – should give you protection from dropped object impacts. Footwear should also protect from potential injuries caused by burns and sharp objects such as nails or glass. When slippery conditions exist such as water, snow and ice, proper foot wear should be worn.
Hearing protection – is used to reduce the noise level you might be exposed to. Many types of hearing protection equipment are available depending on the level of exposure.
Respiratory protection – dust masks and half or full-face respiratory protection keep chemicals, dust, and silica from getting into your lungs.
Employers should assess your workplace to determine if hazards are present that require the use of (PPE) personal protective equipment.
If such hazards are present, then supply the correct PPE and require workers to use it.
It is important to communicate your protective equipment selection decisions to your workers and the selected personal protective equipment that properly fits your workers.
Finally, make sure workers are trained with each piece of PPE they will be required to wear.
Let’s be safe out there!!