PPE is equipment that is used or is worn to minimise risk to the health and safety of people. PPE includes items like, but not limited to safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear, ear protection, sunscreen as well as respiratory protective equipment (RPE).
PPE is used in a wide range of jobs and industries, from the obvious, such as agricultural and building industries to, more surprisingly, catering and life guarding. The type of PPE changes according to the user’s working conditions and regulations.
Why is PPE important?
PPE reduces the risk of injury or harm to users caused by hazards present in the workplace. To make the workplace safer, PPE should be used alongside instructions, procedures, training and supervision to encourage people to work safely and responsibly.
However, even when these measures have been applied, hazards still remain in the workplace and PPE is ultimately used to minimise even further the risk of injury. Hazards in the workplace can include injuries to the lungs (from breathing in contaminated air), the head and feet, (from falling materials), the eyes (from flying particles or splashes of corrosive liquids), the skin (from contact with corrosive materials and the body (from extremes of heat or cold).
Types of PPE
Eye protection can protect you from chemical or metal splashes, dust, gas and vapour and, even, radiation. That said, you should ensure you select the correct eye protection for your requirements. Make sure your choice of eye protection is suitable for the task in hand and fits correctly. In addition, your eye protection should have the right combination of impact, dust, splash and molten metal eye protection.
Safety spectacles, goggles, face screens, face shields and visors are all effective PPE depending on your position and what is required.
Head and Neck Protection
Head and neck PPE can protect the user from the impact of falling or flying objects, as well as protecting injury from bumping the head or hair getting caught in machinery. Head and neck PPE can also protect the wearer from chemical splashes, as well as climate or temperature.
Types of head and neck protection include industrial safety helmets, bump caps, hair nets and firefighters’ helmets, as well as scarves to protect the neck. In addition, some safety helmets incorporate or can be fitted with specially-designed eye or hearing protection
The main hazard to ears is, unsurprisingly, noise. PPE like earplugs, earmuffs and semi-insert/canal caps can provide the necessary protection.
Hands and Arm Protection
Hands and arms can be at risk of abrasion, temperature extremes, cuts and punctures, impact, chemicals, electric shock, radiation, vibration, biological agents and prolonged immersion in water. Gloves, gloves with a cuff combined with sleeves that covers all, or part of, the arm can offer effective PPE.
Feet and legs
Safety boots and shoes with protective toecaps and penetration-resistant, wellington boots as well as other types of safety footwear from Essential Safety Wear can offer effective PPE for your feet and legs. It is important that the appropriate footwear is selected for the risks in each workplace.
Respiratory protective equipment (RPE) can offer protection for the lungs.
High Visibility Garments
“Hi Viz” clothing can range from safety vests, polos, fleece to wet weather gear. This fluorescent coloured clothing has high reflective qualities and allows people to remain visible to moving vehicles or machinery. Some industries require specific colours, possibly with reflective tape, it is important to determine any specific requirements for your workplace.
National Safety Manager