The importance of having personal protective equipment (PPE) fits correctly can never be overestimated. Whether it is the exposure to hazards in your occupation or during certain recreational activities of your own, it is extremely important that one uses proper PPE that is specifically designed for the purpose.
A large number of incidents occur in workplaces where the employees are continuously exposed to physical hazards caused by the field of work. Leaking gases or dangerous chemicals, fire, blasts, physical hits can cause serious or even fatal damage to the worker in the workplace. It may result in places where scientific testing is done, in fire-prone areas, construction sites, or even beekeeping.
PPE comprises of protective clothing of durable materials and equipment like helmets, goggles, or boots. It is designed specifically to protect the body from injuries that are highly likely in the event. The hazards that are addressed in the design of the protective equipment may be physical, heat, electrical, chemical, airborne particulate matter, radiation or biohazards that one may be exposed to during their work.
Personal protective equipment consists of two kinds – the clothing and the gear. Protective clothing comprises of traditional dress articles whilst protective gear comprises of other accessories like pads, guards, shields, or masks.
Protective equipment is extensively used in workplaces when the worker is continuously or repeatedly exposed to hazards and those hazards cannot be easily reduced or controlled by using engineering or technological methods. It helps reduce the level of risk and keep occupational health and safety of the employees intact.
PPE can include a lot of accessories like respirators that block smoke and toxic gases, and facilitates proper breathing due to lack of oxygen; skin protection includes jackets, gloves, pants, or boots, which are very effective in preventing dermatitis, skin cancer, and physical or chemical damages to the skin; goggles for the protection of the eyes; and sports protective gear that includes different equipment for specific purposes.
It is of the utmost importance that the employees and workers are provided with proper personal protective equipment that fits the wearer properly. Otherwise, it creates loopholes in the protection and there are chances of leaks and exposure to additional hazards. Such as unzipped or flapping high visibility vests can be caught on machines, gates and barriers, and either trip or pull a worker into a machine or process.
When selecting the most appropriate PPE for the task, look for PPE and attachments that have the Australian Standard 5 Star ticks of approval; offer different products of PPE to your workers as PPE is not always a one fit all fit solution. For example, as for the case of safety glasses, we all have different size and shaped heads and some will fit comfortably whilst others can actually cause issues such as headaches.
Certain pieces of PPE should not be shared due to hygiene reasons. For example masks, respirators, earplugs, safety helmets, and gloves. And remember some respirators and masks are disposable and should only be used once.
On a final note, always remember that PPE is the last line of defence and must always be used in conjunction with other safety controls such as substitution, isolation, engineering and administration.