What is PPE in Safety?

Everything you need to know to keep safe at work

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PPE Safety

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is clothing or equipment designed to protect workers from physical hazards when on a worksite. PPE should only be considered as a last line of defence between a hazard and the worker. Attempts to control workplace risks and hazards should always be addressed first.

Workplace safety should begin with a hazard assessment. Once the hazards and risks have been identified, a plan can be put forward to prioritize and reduce risk of injury. Useful systems and tools to perform hazard assessments include performing a Risk Assessment and a Job Safety Analysis.

Basic Types of PPE

However, even the strictest controls will not necessarily eliminate all the risks associated with most job tasks and this is where the need for PPE must be evaluated. A hazard assessment can help identify which specialized PPE will be required. However, the following basic types of PPE should be made available in every worksite.

  1. Head Protection

    PPE includes hard hats and headgears and should be required for tasks than can cause any force or object falling to the head. When performing head protection safety checks, ensure that there are no dents or deformities on the shell and connections are tightened inside. Do not store in direct sunlight and always replace a hard hat if it was used for any kind of impact, even if damage is unnoticeable.

  2. Face and Eye Protection

    PPE includes safety goggles and face shields and should be used for tasks that can cause loss of vision and an eye, burns, splashes, sprays of toxic liquids etc. When conducting equipment safety checks, ensure that there are no cracks or deformities on the lenses, ensure the strap is in good working order and is firmly sealed to the cheek and forehead.

  3. Foot Protection

    PPE includes knee pads and safety boots and should be used for tasks that can cause serious foot and leg injuries from falling or rolling objects, hot substances, electrical hazards and slippery surfaces. Use boots with slip-resistant soles that protect against compression and impact.

  4. Hands Protection

    PPE includes safety gloves and should be used for tasks that can cause hand and skin burns, absorption of harmful substances, cuts, fractures or amputations. When inspecting hand protection equipment, ensure that they fit perfectly with no spaces and are free from cuts, burns and chemical residue. Always replace them if any sign of contamination was observed.

  5. Body Protection

    PPE includes safety vests and suits and should be used for tasks that can cause body injuries from extreme temperatures, flames and sparks, toxic chemicals, insect bites and radiation. Ensure that they are clean and free from cuts and burns. Always get a good fit to ensure full body protection.

  6. Hearing Protection

    PPE includes ear muffs and plugs and should be used for tasks than can cause hearing problems and loss of hearing. When ensuring hearing safety, the equipment must fit the ear canal perfectly. Recommended types include formable earplugs to fit on different sizes of ear canals.

  7. Fall Protection

    PPE includes safety harnesses and lanyards and should be strictly used for task that can cause falling from heights and serious injury or death. When inspecting equipment, ensure that the straps are free from tears, deformities and burn marks and buckles are connected securely and tightly. It is very important to dispose them if used after a falling incident.

  8. Respiratory Protection

    PPE includes respirators and should be used for task that can cause inhalation of harmful materials to enter the body. When conducting respiratory protection safety, ensure that the equipment is fit-tested and the employee has undergone proper training before wearing one.