Do Not Mess with your Safety! Wear the Gear!

What is Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)?

PPE is equipment worn by a worker to minimize exposure to specific hazards. Examples of PPE include respirators, gloves, aprons, fall protection, and full body suits, as well as head, eye and foot protection. Using PPE is only one element in a complete hazard control program that would use a variety of strategies to maintain a safe and healthy environment. PPE does not reduce the hazard itself nor does it guarantee permanent or total protection.

Are you properly protected?

Workers and employers can eliminate or control the prospect of occupational hazards. How? By knowing about possible hazards and by getting protection through use of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Identify and Assess Hazards

The first step is to identify and assess the hazards that come with a particular job or work process. You need to determine the source of the hazard nature of the hazard (physical, biological or chemical) duration of exposure to the hazard – long term versus short term exposure level of the hazard.

Control Hazards

Where a hazard is identified, try to control that hazard at the source or between the source and the worker. Before turning to PPE, consider the following eliminate the hazard through engineering controls at the source, this could mean having to modify or replace equipment substitute hazardous materials or substances with less or non-hazardous alternatives redesign the work process – e.g. modify sequence of tasks to improve safety isolate the hazardous agent – e.g. designated room or local ventilation develop administrative controls – e.g. limit the time exposed to the hazard.

Choosing and Using PPE

If engineering controls are neither feasible nor result in completely eliminating the hazard, PPE must be used. Criteria for choosing PPE should be that they provide adequate protection for the worker comply with applicable laws, regulations meet company standard not cause undue discomfort and doesn’t create new hazards.

Consider why and for how long the PPE is needed, such as for a short time due to a temporary process or in case of temporary breakdown of engineering controls for long term, regular use to compensate for lack of engineering control or inadequate control during handling of substances, clean-up of spills, repair of equipment to comply with law and regulations.

Also consider the nature and size of the hazard degree of protection the PPE will provide how easy the PPE is to use and how well the worker will accept using the PPE.

Proper fit is important

A proper fit ensures maximum effectiveness of the equipment, and that the equipment itself does not cause discomfort or pose a further hazard.

What are your PPE Responsibilities?

  • Make sure you are educated and trained in how and when to fit and wear your PPE properly, and how to clean, maintain, store, and dispose of it, before you start work.
  • Wear all PPE required for the job.
  • Check that your PPE does not compromise your health and safety (for example, interfere with your breathing, vision, communication, or mobility.)
  • Take care of your PPE – clean, maintain, and store it properly.
  • Inspect you PPE for wear and tear and other damage before use.
  • Make sure your PPE is repaired or replaced as necessary. Report any damage to your supervisor or employer.

Personal Protective Equipment

If you’re unable to eliminate or minimize a safety hazard in your workplace through engineering controls or the use of safe work practices, you’ll need to ensure that workers have and use appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect themselves from that hazard. So it’s important that workers understand their responsibilities as to PPE.

Ear Plugs are Important

  • Use earplugs or earmuffs to protect you from loud noises
  • Long-term exposure to 80-85 decibels or more can cause hearing loss without protection. It is not recommended to be exposed to 100 decibels without any protection for more than 15 minutes.

Examples of decibel levels of common sounds: 

  • Aircraft takeoff: 180
  • Lawnmower: 90
  • Chainsaw: 110
  • Amplified music: 110
  • Normal conversation: 60

Eye Protection:

  • Eye hazards include metal slivers, dust, wood chips, nails and staples. To protect yourself you should wear glasses, goggles or face shields.
  • Make sure that eye protection is adjustable so that it can fit properly and have good coverage for your eyes.

Hand Protection:

  • Make sure that you are wearing the proper gloves for the task since some gloves are designed for certain activities and may not protect you well enough when used for another task.

Types of gloves and their uses:

  • Leather, canvas or metal mesh – can protect against cuts or burns
  • Fabric and coated fabric – more general protection from dirt, chafing and coated gloves provide slip resistance. Not recommended for rough, sharp or heavy materials.