Many people work in industrial environments that may pose safety or health hazards that cannot be fully eliminated, when this is the case personal protective wear is often utilized for further protection. Personal protective wear is also known as personal protective equipment or simply PPE. There is a wide variety of different PPE equipment options based on specific hazards. PPE is all different but is essentially designed to provide specific protection against certain hazards such as electrical, physical, heat, biochemical, and even airborne threats. Without the use of particular PPE options, it would be virtually impossible for employees within certain positions to complete their work safely and confidently. PPE provides a sturdy barrier between the person wearing the PPE and the working environment or hazards so personal injury is not encountered.
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Types of PPE
· Skin Protection: Any sort of protection that provides a barrier between the skin and the hazard is considered skin protection. Common types of skin protection include gloves, lab coats, face and neck shields, body suits, etc. It is imperative that skin is protected against hazards that may cause cancer, skin disorders such as dermatitis, burns, lacerations, or hazards that may cause skin exposure to radiation.
· Eye Protection: The eyes are a very sensitive body part and can be damaged easily and very quickly by hazardous substances or materials. Items classified as eye protection include safety glasses, goggles, and face shields. Eye protection PPE may provide protection against extreme levels of light, heat, radiation, etc.
· Respirators: Respirators protect people by providing clean, contaminant-free air for breathing. There are two basic types of respirators. The first type is often referred to as a gas mask or a particulate respirator, this type of respirator functions by filtering out unwanted particles and containments in the air so air it is suitable for breathing. The second type of respirator is called a self-contained breathing apparatus or SCBA. This type of respirator is different than the first type in that it does not filter the surrounding air, but instead supplies a completely different source of clean, breathable air to the user.
· Hearing Protection: The use of ear muffs or ear plugs is the most common means of protection against auditory hazards. Hearing protection is usually one of the most overlooked methods of protection because noises are not something that are seen, but instead heard. However, it is essential to provide hearing protection because many industrial facilities are loud and may elicit sounds that can be damaging to hearing.
PPE is Crucial to Employee Safety
It is important to never overlook the need for PPE. Each employee expects to return home from work each day in the same physical wellness condition in which they arrived. Even though the overall safety of employees is essentially up to each employee and how they follow the safety provisions and specifications of the work environment, it is important to remember that it is the employer’s responsibility to provide the safest work environment possible. Employers need to supply appropriate and adequate levels of personal protective wear to all employees based upon their job position in order to ensure employee safety.