One of the most important measures that remarkably reduce occupational injuries is the appropriate personal protective equipment in the workplace.
For example, these days, due to the prevalence of COVID-19, many of us, especially healthcare personnel, have to wear the N-95 mask. The importance of the proper function of these masks is such that a test called Respirator Fit Test is defined for this purpose. Doing this test helps us to know if the mask is working properly or not.
In the following, we will define the personal protective equipment, how to choose, monitor, and its types. We also look at what employees and employers should do to enhance occupational safety.
What is personal protective equipment?
There are still hazards, even when all the necessary protective measures are taken in the workplace, for example:
- The lungs may be exposed to toxic contaminants.
- The heads may be in danger of exposure to falling objects or
- The skin is exposed to corrosive substances.
So, we always need to use the appropriate personal protective equipment based on the workplace’s needs.
Personal protective equipment, called PPE, minimizes the risk of exposure to hazards and occupational injuries and illnesses. You certainly know well-known examples of protective equipment such as gloves, goggles, shoes, and earplugs, but you should know that protective equipment is not limited to these items.
Types of personal protective equipment
|An organ that must be protected||Hazards||The types of personal protective equipment|
|Ears||Noise and high-level sounds||Earplugs, earmuffs, semi-insert/canal caps|
|Eyes||Chemical or metal splash, dust, gas, vapor, radiation||Goggles, face screens, and face shields|
|Head and neck||The impact from falling or flying objects, hair getting tangled in machinery, and risk of head bumping||Bump caps, hairnets, and firefighters’ helmets|
|Feet and legs||Cutting, punctures, wet, cold, hot and metal and chemical splash||Safety boots and shoes with protective toecaps|
|Hands and arms||Severe temperature, cuts, electric shock, radiation, and prolonged immersion in water||Gloves and sleeving|
|Lungs||Dust, gases, and vapors||Filtering facepieces, respirators, and power-assisted respirators|
|Whole-body||Chemical or metal splash, impact or penetration, and heat||Conventional or disposable overalls, boiler suits, and chemical suits|
How to select the personal protective equipment?
As you know, there are different types of personal protective equipment. So you, as an employer, need to know which equipment to choose and provide. To do this, you must first answer the following basic questions:
- Who is exposed, and to what?
- How long are your workers exposed for?
- How much are they exposed to?
All protective equipment must be safely designed and be stored in a reliable fashion and a clean space. This equipment must be designed in such a way that it is easy to fit, and workers are encouraged to use it.
Keep the following in mind when choosing protective equipment:
- Equipment should increase safety and health in the workplace.
- It must comply with the nature of the work and the risks associated with the work.
- In terms of weight and size, the equipment must be comfortable and fit for the person wearing it.
- If more than one protection equipment is to be used at the same time, make sure that they work correctly together.
- Teach your employees about the necessity and how to use protective equipment.
- When providing equipment, consult with the supplier, and explain your job to him. If you need more help to choose the right equipment, you can get help from a specialist adviser.
- Do not make any exceptions for the use of protective equipment.