When it comes to doing dangerous or risky tasks, it is important workers wear personal protective equipment (PPE). PPE is vital for ensuring a person’s safety and protection in various environments. In this article, we take a look at what PPE is, why it is important, and some key considerations to keep in mind when choosing the right type of PPE.
What is PPE?
PPE refers to protective clothing for the eyes, head, ears, hands, body, respiratory system, and feet. It is used to protect individuals from the risks of infection or injury while minimising any exposure to chemicals, biological and physical hazards. PPE typically serves as the first line of defence when other controls and insufficient in reducing or eliminating risks.
Why it is important to wear protective equipment?
As its name suggests, protective clothing exists to prevent injury and harm to all parts of the body. This includes the hands, arms, feet, and torso. In fact, under the PPE Regulations 2002, employers operating an industrial business have the legal obligation to provide the necessary personal protective wear and are also responsible for the maintenance of said PPE, so they remain in optimal condition.
Four basic types of PPE
Face and eye protection
These types of PPE include safety googles and face shields. They should be used for tasks that can cause eye damage or loss of vision, splashes of toxic liquid and burns.
These types of PPE include full-face respirators, gas masks, surgical masks, self-contained breathing apparatus, just to name a few. They are typically uses for tasks that can cause inhalation of harmful materials to enter the body.
Skin and body protection
These types of PPE can be divided into head, body and hands and foot protection. They usually protect workers from physical hazards, such as objects falling on heads, extreme temperatures, burns, cuts, slippery surfaces, or heights.
These include ear muffs and plugs and should be used for tasks that can cause hearing problems or damage the ear.
Before picking a PPE, buyers should understand the specific hazards they may encounter in their field of work or in the surrounding environment. This will help determine the types of PPE that are needed, such as safety googles, gloves, respirators, boots, or head protection.
Compliance and standards
Ensure that the PPE that is being selected complies with any and all relevant safety standards and regulations. Make sure to look for certifications or marketing indicating compliance to specific standards and ensure that all the equipment meet the required safety criteria.
PPE should fit properly on people to offer the most protection possible. Consider the sizes and adjustability options available for the equipment that is needed. This is because ill-fitting PPE may not provide adequate coverage or it may even restrict movement, compromising a person’s safety.
Durability and Quality
Make sure to pick PPE that is made from high-quality materials. These materials should be able to withstand the conditions and hazards a person may encounter. Look for products from reputable manufacturers and providers that are known for their quality and durability, such as RS Components.
Comfort and Usability
PPE should be comfortable to wear for extended periods of time without causing any discomfort or hindering productivity. So, make sure to consider features such as cushioning, breathability, and ergonomic design to ensure maximum comfort and usability. This way, people can use the PPE for a long time without injuring or overtaxing themselves.
If workers need to wear multiple PPE items simultaneously, make sure they are compatible and can be worn together without compromising their individual effectiveness. For instance, googles should comfortably fit over prescription eyeglasses, and gloves should allow for a firm grip when holding items.
Maintenance and replacement
Another thing to keep in mind is how easy it is to clean and maintain the PPE. This is because not all equipment requires the same upkeep. Some may need regular inspections, cleaning, or replacement to ensure their continued effectiveness. While others do not need so much regular upkeep. Factor in the cost and availability of replacement parts or accessories when selecting a specific PPE.
Training and instructions
Ensure that the selected PPE comes with clear instructions on how to properly use it, maintain it, and store it. Additionally, it is recommended that companies provide training to users on how to correctly wear and use the equipment to maximise its protective benefits in the long run.
Remember to keep in mind that the specific PPE requirements may vary based on the nature of the task or the environment that a worker is in. Make sure to consult the relevant safety guidelines, regulation, and experts to determine the most appropriate PPE for your specific needs. Ensure you prioritise safety and pick the best quality equipment to protect yourself efficiently.