Safety is a major concern for laborers and employees who work in places where there is a high risk of hazard and damage. Every year, several accidents occur on construction sites and other industrial areas, and most of the time the reason is an absence of Personal Protective Equipment, also known as PPE. The Personal Protective Equipment indicate to any clothing or work-related accessories that keep employees protected from harmful and danger situations at work. PPE includes things like eye protection gears, protective helmets, high visibility clothing, safety harnesses, safety footwear, respiratory protective equipment, and other items that are made to make sure the employees don’t face any dangerous injuries while working with harmful equipment and substances. The purpose of Personal Protective Equipment is to protect employees from safety and health risks at work, and to minimize their exposure to hazards. Every facility does not have feasible engineering and administrative controls to keep their employees out of such risks. This is where PPE plays a key role in keeping the workers protected.
It is compulsory for a company to provide their employees with necessary Personal Protective Equipment. A proper training for safety and health further adds to the skills set of the employees and keep them from any kinds of hazards. A hazard can be anything from a wet floor to a falling debris, and injuries can happen to any part of the body from head to feet to lungs. The Personal Protection Equipment minimizes the risks of any kind of serious injury.
To help you understand better why PPE is important and why it should be used in hazardous work environments, here are seven amazing attributes of Personal Protective Equipment.
- Safety for the Head
Helmets are used as Personal Protective Equipment, to keep the head protected and prevent it from any kind of injuries. These helmets or protective hats are capable of enduring penetration and absorbing the shock of a blow. Some helmets also prevent electric shocks. For employees working in conditions where they are exposed to head injuries, sturdy helmets are a must. There are several options of helmets available such as the ones with adjustable interior harness, or ones with comfortable sweatbands. You will also find them in many different pleasing designs. When you pass by a construction site, you notice workers wearing the same kind of helmets, those are hard hats which are designed to guard workers from falling or flying objects that can penetrate them. Some hard hats are also equipped with accessories like earmuffs and face shields.
There are different types and classes of head protection gear, each with a purpose to protect the user from a particular hazardous condition. Here are the types and classes of protective hats:
- Type 1 - Helmets with full brim, not less than 1 and 1/4 inches wide.
- Type 2 - Brimless helmets with a peak extending forward from the crown.
For industrial purpose uses, there are three classes:
- Class A - General service, for limited voltage protection.
- Class B - Utility service, for high-voltage protection.
- Class C - Special service, with no voltage protection.
Head gears of class A are used in construction, mining, tunneling, manufacturing, lumbering, and shipbuilding, all intended to protect against impact danger. Class B head gears are widely used by electrical workers, for protecting their head from any penetration and impact caused by a falling or flying object, and from high voltage shock. Class C head gear is especially designed for impact protection and lightweight comfort, they are used in some manufacturing and construction areas, chemical plants, refineries, oil fields, and other places where there is no such danger of electrical incidents. These are made from aluminum and do not provide protection from electric shocks.
2. Protection for Eyes
Eyes are the most fragile and intricate part of our body, thus it is crucial to keep them protected at all time. Every day, approximately 600 people around the world suffer from eye injuries during work. So what can be done to prevent these injuries? The answer is simple, make use of Protection Equipment designed to keep the eyes safe and out of danger. A good pair of safety glasses, welding goggles, spectacles, and full face shields, are the examples of eye protection equipment. Protecting the eyes is as important as protecting the head, as both are an important part of our body. In some work places employees are also prone to invisible and harmful gases, that in some cases can be fatal. These face masks protect workers from such situations. Eye protection gear is most common amongst wood-workers, metal workers, air-tool operations, and general laborers who are surrounded by different kinds of debris on construction sites.
Companies should provide suitable eye protective gears to their employees where there is a high risk of injury to eyes from things like molten metal, flying particles, liquid chemicals, caustic liquids or acids, injurious light radiation, and chemicals gases or vapors. Every equipment used by the workers should facilitate their needs and meet the following requirements:
- It should be durable
- It should provide satisfactory protection against the particular hazards it is designed for
- It should be comfortable to wear
- It should adequately fit and not interfere with movements or vision of the user
- It should be competent of being disinfected
- It should be easy to clean
3. Hearing Protection
If you work in an environment with high levels of sound, then it is important for you to take hearing protection under consideration. Continuous exposure to high noise levels can result in loss of hearing or impairment, which can lead to physical and psychological stress. Also, there is no antidote or cure for hearing loss caused by noise induction, so the only way to stay safe from hearing damage is to keep yourself protected in environments with excessive noise exposure. Many people often don’t consider industrial noise as an occupational hazard, because it is something not visible to the eye. Nonetheless, every year almost 22 million workers in the USA are exposed to possible harmful noise levels. According to a survey by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 82% of occupational hearing loss cases happen in the manufacturing sector.
The most common equipment for hearing protection are ear plugs and ear muffs. Ear plugs are comfortable to wear, and are most effective for reducing low-frequency noise. Whereas, earmuffs are more convenient to use as they are easy to put them on and take them off, and are more effective in minimizing high-frequency noise. An employee should use hearing protecting tools in accordance with the auditory condition he or she works in. Other important things to know are, never use disposable earplugs more than once, clean your non-disposable earplugs every time you use them. For earmuffs to be effective they need to make a perfect seal around the ear, chewing, glasses, long hair and facial movement, can interrupt their effectiveness. There is specially-designed equipment for people who wear glasses or have beards.
4. Maintain a Good Respiration
Around 15% of the employees within Europe inhale smoke, vapors, dusk and powders during their work. It is necessary for employees, who work in such environments, to keep themselves protected by wearing dust masks which offer protection against dust and other dangerous particles. If there is risk of material that are toxic, then it is necessary to wear a full face mask, that fits tightly on the face and gives protection to nose and mouth against harmful substances.
Respiratory protection is necessary on work sites where employees are surrounded by toxic substances. It is also important to remember that not all hazards can be seen, but that does not mean they are not there or will not harm you. The most common equipment used for respiratory protection is a respirator, a device designed to guard the wearer from harmful substances like fumes, dust, pesticides, paint spray, and other things that can cause permanent damage.
5. Protection for Hands and Skin
Most of the construction jobs require the use of hands. Every year almost 150,000 hand injuries are reported around the world, caused while working. Occupational skin diseases are the second most common occupational disease, this includes skin cancers, dermatitis, and other skin conditions and infections. Because hands and skin are most likely to get damage while working, as most work is done by hands, use of gloves is crucial for the protection of both hands and skin. The most common examples of gloves used for Personal Protective Equipment are, heat-resistant gloves, rubber gloves, chainsaw gloves, and cut-resistant gloves. Using gloves can protect the user from hazards involving chemicals, sheet metal, glass, electricity, slippery and hot materials.
The best way to avoid damage from contaminated substances is to use gloves, whether disposable or reusable. If one does not use protective equipment to keep their hands and skin safe, then there is a high risk of getting infections and diseases. Also treating such diseases is also extremely expensive, so whether you are an employee or an employer, you must invest in such protective gear to save yourself from any big damage. The choice of gloves you make depends on the sector you work in. The different types of glove offer different types of protection, such as:
- Protection against cuts by sharp materials
- Protection against vibrations
- Protection against bacteriological risks
- Protection against splashes from diluted chemicals
- Protection against cold or heat
6. Protection for Feet
Did you know that 16.2% of the industrial incidents are caused by sliding or striping? According to another survey, most workers of selected occupations who experienced foot injuries were found not to be wearing protective foot wear. The survey also tells that most employers don’t require their workers to wear safe shoes, which increases their chance of getting injured. Most of the foot injuries are caused by heavy objects falling from heights, and most of these incidents occur at normal job actives at worksites. To keep your feet and legs protected it is necessary for workers to use solid protection. Injuries can be caused by falling or rolling objects, shape objects, hot surfaces, wet slippery surfaces, and molten metal. Foot protection equipment include safe shoes, foot guards, boots, and leggings.
Safety shoes and boots are ideal for keeping the feet protected from heavy weights. Anti-skid shoes are good for damp environments, whereas shoe claws work best for slippery surfaces like snow and ice. Leggings are worn to protect lower leg and feet from welding sparks or molten metal. For workers who work in harsher environments, there are foot-guards made of galvanized steel, fiber-glass, or aluminum alloy, these are worn over work shoes, but they have a risk of tripping as there is a possibility of them catching onto some object. Then there are the heat-resistant soled shoes, designed to protect users against hot surfaces found on paving, roofs, and hot metal industries. Foot safety shoes are available in different materials and styles, from leather to rubber, and oxford to tennis shoe models. Whichever one you get, make sure that it is solid and has an impact-resistant toe.
7. Wear the Correct Work Clothing
A great number of accidents take place at crowded workshops, which is why to keep yourself protected you must be at good visibility. To do so, one should wear the right work clothing, in such situation it is recommended for workers to wear high-visibility jacket and pants. These are made from a strong fabric that helps in reducing the risk of accidents. Different kind of protective work clothing is used for different purposes. There are many hazards, like heat splashes form hot liquids and metals, cuts, acids, radiation and impacts, that are very much capable of harming the human torso. So to keep yourself protected from such dangers, one should wear protective clothing that includes jackets, vests, coveralls, aprons and bodysuits. For those who work as fire-fighters or in such fields where they are exposed to fire on daily basis, there are clothing items available that are comfortable to wear and can easily adapt to different temperatures. Other types of protective clothing are made of materials like leather, and rubberized fabrics.