A Rundown on Personal Protective Equipment

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In selecting personal protective equipment, it is important to ensure that it is specifically made to provide work safety and your considerations should include: its durability, permeability, abrasion, burn and cut resistance, insulation, size, comfort, cleaning and maintenance. Also remember that personal protective equipment each has its own specific purposes and uses.

For instance, there is not one type of glove which can provide adequate protection against all types of chemicals, or one type of respirator that is effective against all chemicals, vapours or even levels. The provision and type of hand gloves or any hand protection equipment will depend on the kind of work involved, chemicals handled, and potential for any hand injury; while the kind of respirator will also depend on the chemicals and atmosphere quality in the particular workplace.

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One of the most protective equipment is head protection. Safety helmets are required to use and worn when the workplace presents certain head injury hazards: falling objects and nature of work that can lead to high risk of falls, bumps or electrical hazards.

Protective footwear or safety shoes should be provided when the nature of work exposes the employee to medium or high risk foot injuries, and also when the workplace involves steep or inclined services. There are also certain workplaces that demand good traction or special soles that can provide protection from certain chemicals.

Eye protection is used to minimise risks of eye injuries. Typical eye hazards include: flying dust and other particles, substances, harmful gases, vapours, aerosols, and high intensity light or radiation from welding and other operations.

Hearing protection should be provided in workplaces where there are high levels of noise involved which can lead to hearing problems or loss. The need for hearing protection is assessed by conducting noise surveys in the workplace, especially in the main operations area or in any potential noise hazard places. A good personal gauge if you need hearing protection in a workplace is if you cannot hear a normal conversation two feet away due to outside noise.

Protective clothing and sunscreen are provided for employees required to work outdoors or are exposed to the sun’s rays for continuous periods of a day. Direct sun exposure during the course of a job can expose the skin to UV radiation – so this can be minimised through the proper use and application of sunscreen, and by wearing protective clothing such as hats, long sleeved tops and long trousers. For employees required to work outdoors at night, especially for those working near roadways or moving traffic, high visibility safety vests should be worn and used.

Finally, fall protection equipment should always be provided to personnel working and dealing with heights, such as: fall arrest anchors, anchor points and static lines. The proper use and maintenance of such equipment should also be taught and administered.

Always remember that any protective equipment provided should be appropriate for both the specific employee and the workplace. A good and proper protective equipment should minimise workplace risks and not deter the employee from performing his job or expose him to more risks by becoming a hindrance. Protective equipment should always be clean and hygienic, and should be stored properly to remain so and not exposed to elements. All protective equipment should also have a clear manufacturer’s label with instructions for its proper use, care and maintenance.

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