Wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) in the work environment helps minimize exposure to physical, environmental, chemical and biological hazards. To ensure the use of proper equipment, start by assessing the work to be performed and what potential hazards exist. Examples of typical workplace hazards for HVAC include shocks, burns, strains and sprains, temperature extremes, inhalation of chemicals etc. The next step is selecting the appropriate PPE based on the risks identified with the job and the environment in which you will be performing it. PPE only works when it is right for the job and the environment.
Types of appropriate PPE for the HVAC industry include:
Clothing and footwear: The importance of choosing the proper protective clothing is often overlooked and its benefits cannot be underestimated. This form of PPE covers the largest portion of your body and can help protect you from a variety of workplace hazards.
Examples of protective clothing for HVAC includes gear to protect from radiant energy, coveralls or thermal and cold protective clothing.
Selecting the appropriate footwear can protect you from stepping on sharp objects, hazardous substances, falling objects, slips and falls as well as protecting from electrical hazards. It is important that you select the appropriate footwear for the job that you are performing and the environment.
Hand protection: Gloves are an inexpensive and simple way to guard against several hazards, from chemicals to cuts and punctures. Hand protection comes in an assortment of styles, materials and sizes that can even be customized for a specific task being performed. Fit is also an important consideration because if gloves are too large, they can impair dexterity or prevent good grip, potentially causing an accident.
Head and eye protection: Hard hats must be worn when overhead hazard conditions are present such as falling objects or low ceilings or when contacting electrical conductors is possible.
Using proper eye protection can help prevent injury and even blindness. Safety glasses and face shields should be worn to protect eyes from chemical, flying fragments, dust, sand, dirt and other environmental hazards.
Hearing protection: Reducing the noise level in your work environment to a safe level is obviously the most effective method to prevent hearing loss. However, lowering the noise level isn’t always possible, in these instances ear plugs or earmuffs should be worn to protect hearing.
Respiratory Protection: Respiratoy protection protects the worker from inhaling potentially dangerous contaminants such as refrigerants. All respiratory protection should be appropriate for the task and a fit test done before work starts.