Personal Protective Equipment: The Most Effective Barrier Against Occupational Injuries

the Most Effective Barrier Against Occupational Injuries

Fortunately, according to Osha statistics, the occupational injury rate had decreased from 10.9% in 1972 to 2.8% in 2019. The good news is that this number will significantly drop with more appropriate measurements in the coming years.

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.

 

How to maintain and monitor the personal protective equipment?

Personal protective equipment should be properly maintained and stored when not in use:

  • Maintain and provide suitable replacement parts that match the original (such as respirator filters). These parts should always be available.
  • The person in charge of maintenance must be responsible and know how to do his job.
  • The employer must be provided with details of any loss, damage, or any defect in the equipment maintenance process.

You, as an employer, must:

  • Check if employees use protective equipment. If not, why?
  • Install warning signs in the workplace to remind employees to use protective equipment.
  • Consider any changes in equipment, materials, and methods – you may need to update what you provide.

 

How can employees be informed about the use of personal protective equipment?

As you know, employers not only have to provide the right protective equipment for their workers, but they also have to make sure that workers use it properly. Therefore, every worker must be trained to know:

  • When should they use protective equipment?
  • Which protection equipment is right for them?
  • How to properly wear and adjust it?
  • What are the limitations of this protective equipment?
  • What is the useful life of the equipment?
  • How should the equipment be monitored and maintained?

 

Payment for Personal Protective Equipment

According to Osha standards, employers must provide appropriate protective equipment for their employees to protect them from occupational injuries. In most cases, with a few exceptions, employers have to pay the payment for the equipment. This equipment includes the following:

  • Hard hats
  • Gloves
  • Goggles
  • Safety shoes
  • Safety glasses
  •  Welding helmets
  •  Face shields
  •  Chemical protective equipment

 

Worker responsibilities

As employers are required to comply with OSHA standards, employees should also consider the following:

  • They should use appropriate protective equipment based on the information and training provided by the employer.
  • They should never intentionally damage protective equipment.
  • They must inform the supervisor of any damage, defect, or need to clean or decontaminate any of the equipment if they become aware of it.

 

The bottom line

The Southern Nevada Occupational Health Center in Las Vegas constantly strives to improve safety at the workplace. To learn more about the services of this center, you can refer to the list at the top of the page. In addition, you can fill out the form on the right to make an online appointment.

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