Wearing the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) in your work environment helps minimize exposure to physical, environmental, chemical and biological hazards. To ensure you are using the proper equipment, start by assessing the work you will be performing and what potential hazards exist. Examples of typical workplace hazards include moving objects, electric connections, high noise levels, harmful dust or the presence of chemicals. 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 PPE 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 are aprons, lab coats, reflective vests, coveralls, lead aprons, thermal and cold protective clothing.
Selecting the appropriate footwear can protect you from stepping on sharp objects, hazardous substances, falling objects and slips and falls. 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 many 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 industry or hazard. Fit is also an important consideration because if gloves are too large, they can impair the dexterity of your hands or cause you to lose your 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, goggles or shields protect your eyes from chemical or bodily fluid splashes, 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.