Personal protective equipment (PPE) provides added individual protection against safety and health hazards. In general, PPE are devices worn by workers to protect against hazards in the environment. Examples include safety glasses, face shields, respirators, gloves, hard hats, steel-toed shoes, and hearing protection. The United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires protective equipment to be provided, used, and maintained in a sanitary and reliable condition wherever it is necessary.
A serious aspect of working safely with hazardous materials is the proper selection and use of PPE. Performing work in practical comfort is important but not as important as one’s individual safety. In order to select the appropriate PPE for the workplace, we recommend a hazard assessment is conducted. The hazard assessment determines the potential danger associated with a task, machinery, or process. The appropriate PPE will then be determined.
PPE includes all clothing and accessories designed to protect against safety and health hazards. Here are some categories of PPE we find most important:
Eye Protection: Safety Glasses and Goggles
The use of eye and face protection must be used where a hazard exists due to flying objects or particles, molten metal, liquid chemicals, gases, vapors, or injurious light radiation.
Head Protection: Hard Hats and Face Shields
Protective helmets are designed to shield the head from the impact and penetration of falling objects, working in low clearance areas, and in some cases high voltage electric shock and burns.
Foot and Slip Protection
It’s important to select protective footwear when employees work in areas where there is a danger of foot injuries due to falling and rolling objects, objects piercing the sole, and where employees’ feet are exposed to electrical hazards. Traction plays an important part to avoiding slips and falls.
Hand Protection: Safety Gloves
It is essential to select the appropriate glove for a particular application and to determine how long the glove can be worn, and whether it can be reused. Select and use the appropriate hand protection when employees’ hands may be potentially exposed to the following hazard sources: skin absorption of harmful substances, severe cuts or lacerations, severe abrasions, punctures, chemical burns, and harmful temperature extremes.
Get in control of those occupational diseases caused by breathing air contaminated with harmful dusts, fogs, fumes, mists, gases, smokes, sprays, or vapors. The primary objective shall be to prevent atmospheric contamination.
While PPE should be your last in a hierarchy of prevention, it is very important for protecting your workers. Remember, protection and safety also involves other strategies including training and procedures. Is your workplace or facility properly prepared with Personal Protection Equipment?