7 Types of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to Keep You Safe in the Workplace

Posted June 12, 2019

For everyday labourers and tradesmen who do valuable but challenging skilled work in electrical contracting, construction, forestry, mining, and many other fields, the clothes and accessories they wear aren’t just their uniform or daily workwear. In many ways, these garments and accoutrements help get the job done by protecting these workers from the elements and from the hazards they encounter daily in the workplace.

These safety workwear and personal protective equipment (PPE) include different types of clothing, accessories, and equipment that are meant to shield the wearer from dangers that may cause injury or infection. These hazards include a variety of physical, chemical, ergonomic, and biological hazards.

If you work in a high-risk occupation, you’re in luck because the PPE industry is constantly evolving, and there is a now a wide range of PPE available to keep you safe and productive while on the job. Except for disposables and consumables, these products are typically built to have long service lives throughout many cycles, in addition to being manufactured for both safety and comfort.

Here’s a quick run-down of the common types of PPE, what they protect against, some examples of products, and what to seek in a high-quality item.

  1. Eye protection. The eye is an extremely sensitive organ of the body, so protecting one’s eyes isn’t just in the interest of doing one’s work well. PPEs that fall under the important category of eye protection include safety spectacles, goggles, and visors, which — depending on the design — can be resistant against impact, heat, fog, scratching, and entry of minute particles. You will need eye protection in order to guard your eyes against sparks, fumes, irritating gases, and other hazards that may compromise your vision.
  2. Head protection. In occupations where one works with heavy materials and machinery, ample head protection is necessary to protect one’s scalp, skull, and brain from injury. The foremost implement for head protection is the hard helmet, but this category of PPEs also includes related accessories like sweat bands, helmet straps, and visors. An ideal head protective equipment must be made of sturdy material while also being easy to strap or clasp on, as well as being able to stay firmly on one’s head even if the user sweats a lot.
  3. Hearing protection. Working in a logging area, in a construction site, or in a mine means that you are subject to hearing loud, high-pitched, or irritating sounds on the regular. You’re also at a constant risk of possibly getting small particles trapped in your ear. For these reasons, you need protective equipment to protect yourself against hearing loss, as well as injury or infection that may occur from foreign bodies entering your ears. These PPEs can come in the form of ear plugs or ear muffs, which are typically rated according to how much sound they can muffle. Look for products that can fit snugly over your ears or into your ear canal without additional pressure, in addition to being able to fit securely with the ensemble of other PPEs that you intend to wear on your head and face.
  4. Respiratory protection. This class of PPE exists to protect the wearer against dangerous contaminants or airborne matter that may compromise one’s respiratory system. Some examples of products that fall under this category are dust masks and respirators. In jobs that require exposure to fumes, gases, or particulate matter, PPEs with efficient filtration systems are one’s best bet against damage to the respiratory system.
  5. Hand protection. Manual work is the foundation of skilled trade. As such, PPEs under the category of hand protection play a vital role in protecting labourers from injury, while at the same time allowing them to maintain their precision, strength, and freedom of movement while working with their hands. Key examples of PPEs for hand protection are gloves and mitts, which you, as the wearer, must choose in the right size and length for a proper fit. In addition, you must also make sure that the material your gloves or mitts are made of is appropriate for the application for which you intend to use them.
  6. Hydration equipment. Skilled work is often very physically demanding and dehydrating. You could be sweating out as much as 1.4 litres of water from your body for every hour that you are on site. PPEs under the umbrella of hydration equipment ensure that your body gains back the fluids and electrolytes it’s lost, helping you stay at premium strength and concentration for the rest of the work day. This category includes water coolers and water bottles, as well as wearable hydration packs and consumables such as electrolyte-rich drink mixes.
  7. Sun protection. If your work requires you to be under the sun for long periods of time, you risk damage to your skin from the sheer heat and from exposure to harmful UV rays. That’s why it’s important to have a solid range of PPEs to make sure that you are well-protected from the sun. These can include a hat, a hat rim, a bandana, or a balaclava — whichever is the most appropriate choice for your line of work. Make sure to complement these with a broad-spectrum sunscreen that can protect you from both UVA and UVB rays from the sun.

Wearing proper safety workwear and personal protective equipment is absolutely necessary in improving the level of occupational safety in any workplace. Furthermore, they also help improve your chances of enjoying a long and fulfilling career in your chosen field of work. Preserve your health and well-being by protecting yourself with the right PPE today.

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