Personal protective equipment (PPE) is any form of wearable equipment or clothing that provides the user with sufficient protection from external harm or injuries. For most skilled laborers, safety is the primary concern and it can be quite difficult to operate safely in workplaces where occupational safety hazards are present. Companies have a responsibility of ensuring maximum protection for their workers. That’s why it’s important to know why PPE training and proper equipment use are necessary to prevent unwanted accidents from happening inside the workplace. Speak with Australia’s leading PPE provider for more information.
Personal protective equipment come in different shapes and sizes, all of which serve to cover and protect different parts of the body. Some examples of personal protective equipment are:
- Respiratory protective equipment (RPE) such as breathing apparatuses and respirators
- Hearing protective devices such as ear defenders and plugs
- Eye and face protection such as face shields, masks, and safety goggles
- Harnesses and fall arrests
- Gauntlets and gloves for hand protection
- Safety shoes with a steel toe
- Clothing such as lab gowns, hazmat suits, fire suits, and coveralls
How does PPE fit within the risk management process?
PPE is generally used as a last line of defense when administrative controls are not feasible to fully eliminate risks associated with the employee’s line of work. Personal protective equipment should only be used under the following conditions:
- When occupational safety hazards are still present despite implementing safety measures.
- Allow workers to perform their tasks more comfortably during harsh weather conditions like extreme heat or cold.
- During maintenance activities.
- As a short-term safety measure until more effective solutions are implemented.
Running a risk assessment is vital for any company in order to identify hazards inside the workplace and mitigate them as much as possible.
How to choose the appropriate PPE
There are a number of factors to consider when selecting PPE. Knowing which PPE to use on a given work environment will protect workers from a variety of harmful elements. Keep in mind that certain work conditions can expose workers to a number of different risks. For example, welders are at risk of inhaling dangerous fumes as well as hot temperatures and flying sparks. Here are the factors you should keep in mind to ensure that you select the appropriate PPE for the job:
- How the work will be performed by the employees. For example, if the workers will operate under dim conditions, a high visibility vest is necessary.
- The duration of which the PPE will be worn. Certain PPE might become uncomfortable to wear over long periods like coveralls and suits.
- The risks involved when performing work tasks. After running a risk assessment, list down the identified hazard and mitigate it by selecting the correct PPE.
- The conditions of the work environment. For cold environments, well-insulated clothing can keep workers warm and avoid frostbites. In hot conditions, the chosen PPE should allow proper ventilation of the body to prevent heat stroke and dehydration.
How PPE is used properly
For the workers, knowing how to properly use PPE is of utmost importance. Failure to use PPE correctly may result in injury as well as compromising protection provided by the equipment itself. When using PPE, keep the following tips in mind:
- Check the PPE and make sure the size and fit are adequate. Wearable PPE should cover all areas of the skin and the equipment should not hinder your range of movement.
- Inspect the condition of the PPE before use. If there are visible damages like cracks or holes, avoid using it and request for a new one.
- Know how to properly wear and remove PPE. For example, respirators need a good facial seal to protect you from breathing particulate matter.
- Keeping the PPE well-maintained like cleaning after use and storing it away from direct sunlight or extreme cold.
The importance of PPE training and proper equipment should never be understated. A company carries the responsibility of informing and training their employees on how to best utilize PPE to reduce accidents inside the workplace and ensure maximum user protection. A worker’s safety should never be compromised no matter the job. With personal protective equipment, workers can properly perform their tasks without risking illness or injury in the process.