PPE – Personal Protective Equipment
There are over 75 OSHA Standards that address the need and use for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). While PPE use can prevent injuries and illnesses, engineering controls should be the primary methods used to eliminate or minimize hazard exposure in the workplace. When controls are not practical or applicable, personal protective equipment can be used to reduce or eliminate personnel exposure to hazards. Personal protective equipment (PPE) must be provided, used, and maintained when it has been determined that its use is required and that such use will lessen the likelihood of occupational injuries and/or illnesses.
Hazards in the workplace are a fact of life. No matter what you do, there’s the need for personal protective equipment on many of the jobs you perform. Health hazards, eye hazards, noise and chemicals. Whether or not you use personal protective equipment is really up to you. If you choose not to, your attitude may be the biggest hazard of all. Personal Protective equipment is one of the best ways to protect your own health and safety.
Ear plugs or ear muffs can go a long way to avoid hearing loss. Adjust your muffs so they’re comfortable and don’t squeeze your ears. Disposable ear plugs must be clean and fitted properly. Never insert dirty ear plugs or use dirty hands when putting the plugs in your ears.
Safety glasses provide eye protection from flying chips, debris and other eye hazards. Goggles protect your eyes from chemical splashes and face shields are a safeguard when worn over other protective eyewear, such as safety glasses.
Gloves protect your hands from chemicals, rough or sharp parts and a wide range of skin protection. Keep in mind that there are literally hundreds of different types of gloves, each designed for a specific purpose, so select the proper glove for the job.
Respirators protect you against a wide variety dusts, fumes, gases, vapors and many other health hazards. One of the most misused respirators in industry is the dust mask. It’s designed only for certain types of dust, but many people believe it’s good for any type of hazard. A dust mask cannot be used for spray painting or other types of vapors. Each specific hazard must have the proper respirator that provides protection for that hazard. Proper fitting of respiratory equipment and the wearing of equipment as it was intended is equally important.
Hard Hats protect your head from low hanging or falling objects. Wear hard hats as they were intended to be worn and never make modifications to your hat, such as drilling air holes in the sides. Each hat is engineered for impacts and if you modify the hat, you could damage the hat to such a degree where the hat will not afford the designed protection.
Boots and safety shoes are good personal protective equipment. Even if your job doesn’t require steel toed safety shoes, leather topped shoes can provide a degree of protection from chemical splashes, petroleum products and small cuts, bruises and abrasions. Your shoes should be in good condition and the soles of the shoes should be slip resistant. Keep your footwear in good condition and always clean off your shoes before climbing ladders, or getting into vehicles. Grease or slippery shoes can create accidents.
Chemical clothing and encapsulating suits are used when there are vapor, gas and other airborne hazards. When you’re engaged in this type of work, more training is necessary, to make sure you understand what protection is offered and how to specifically use, handle and store the equipment. When we talk about personal protective equipment, the basic equipment just described comes to mind, but in a work environment, you must consider many other safety devices that could be lumped together with personal protective equipment.