Workers can be exposed to different biological, chemical, and physical hazards. For this reason, businesses should provide employees with personal protective equipment (PPE) that keeps them safe from the immediate and long-term risks of such hazards. There are different types of PPE, each with a different function, that businesses should provide their workers. We examine their uses and importance below.
Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE)
These types of PPE protect workers from inhalable substances in the workplace. They are usually either filters that remove contaminants from the air a worker breathes or equipment that supplies clean air from external and independent sources.
RPE is required when working in areas with large amounts of dust, gases, powders, and vapours. Workers should also wear them when using cutting, grinding, or welding tools.
The masks used with this equipment should provide a full seal around the nose and mouth to ensure maximum effectiveness. In cases where this is not possible, such as when a worker has a beard for religious reasons, a full hood that covers the face and head should be used.
This type of PPE protects against the trauma typically caused by falling objects. Industrial safety helmets are the most recognizable form of head protection. Workers can also be supplied with industrial scalp protectors that protect from bumps against stationary objects and hair nets or caps that prevent hair from being entangled in something such as hanging cables.
Because of how serious head injuries are, businesses should work with reputable PPE suppliers to source head protection that provides adequate protection. This is especially if the business is in construction, building repair, or engineering. This type of protection is also crucial for workers who drive motorcycles.
Dust and other debris can get into the eyes and cause mild irritation or severe injury. For this reason, businesses should provide their employees with eye protection. The different types of eye protection include:
- Face shields – These cover the whole face and can protect against flying debris. However, they cannot protect against gases, dust, or mist because they do not provide full enclosure.
- Safety glasses – These look like regular glasses, but their lenses are made of tougher material. The best safety glasses have side shields that provide additional protection.
- Eye shields – These are moulded lenses worn over the lenses of prescription glasses.
- Safety goggles – These are made using plastic frames and have an elastic headband so they stay in place.
Every worker should be provided with adequate foot protection, especially if they work with heavy equipment, tools, and packages. At a minimum, their safety shoes should have steel toe caps. They can also have other safety features including steel midsoles, corrosion-resistant and slip-resistant soles, and insulation protection.
Workers working in environments with a risk of static electricity can also get conductive or anti-static safety footwear.
Personal protective equipment is crucial for all workers who work in environments with any type of hazard. In addition to preventing accidents, PPE can also protect workers in the long term by preventing injury or the inhalation of harmful substances, for example.