PPE or Personal Protective Equipment is safety equipment that will protect you from health and safety risks. PPE is the easiest and most important method of staying safe on site.
PPE should be used when you are putting yourself in a position in which your activity could be a hazard. Only use PPE if there is no other way of getting a job done without it (if other controls aren’t an option). Sometimes PPE is a compulsory requirement, e.g. hard hard hart when on-site; in these cases, your employer should supply it free of charge. You need to be able to select the correct PPE for the correct job to ensure you have sufficient protection, so select carefully.
PPE comes in a range of different types including, respiratory, eye, hearing, head and more. Take a look below at the different types of PPE, their limitations and when they should be worn.
Use Eye and face protection to protect your face from any possible splash, projectile, vapour or radiation that could damage your eyes. Prime examples would be when using a saw or drill in which dust and flying particles could shoot up into your eyes.
The usual options used to protect your eyes would be either safety goggles; which protect both the front and side of your face.
Another choice would be wearing safety goggles. You would wear safety goggles as splash protection for your eyes. Although safety goggles do not protect the rest of the face. If you find yourself in a situation in which you are working with radiation or bright light wear filter lens goggles.
For full face and neck protection, you would use a face shield. You can use face shields as a secondary precaution over the top of safety goggles; this way you can ensure utmost protection from chemical splashes.
You must always make sure you wear appropriate hand protection when you are exposed to potential hazards. If you are likely to encounter anything that could potentially: cut, lacerate, burn, puncture or harmfully absorb into your skin you must protect yourself.
Depending on your task you need to select the PPE accordingly; if you immerse your hand in a substance for a long time just a glove will not suffice. You may also need to select gloves with a cuff, protective sleeves and gauntlets to protect enough of your body.
Wearing gloves for extended amounts of time can lead to skin problems; try to use separate cotton inner gloves to prohibit this. When you are using machinery keep your hands exposed; avoid wearing gloves because you can get them caught in the machine. Also, barrier creams are not deemed as a reliable alternative to PPE.
You can use body protection for a range of purposes; you may need it to protect your skin from a contaminated substance, avoid impact or to protect yourself from heat. Keep your loose clothing from machinery as it may get caught; wear disposable overalls, aprons or boiler suits will in those situations.
Body protection doesn’t necessarily refer to the material of your clothing (e.g. flame retardant, high visibility or chemically impermeable). Body protection may be referring to safety harnesses or life jackets, so make sure these are properly considered before conducting a dangerous task.
For more information on safety harnesses and fall-arrest take a look at our Safety Harness training course here.
RPE is a particular type of PPE. Use it to protect yourself from the inhalation of hazardous substances. Dust, gases, vapours and oxygen-deficient areas can all be harmful to the chest and lungs. That is why tight-fitting respirators are imperative to keeping you safe. To ensure that you or your employees have sufficient protection it is advised that you are Face Fit tested.
Find out more about Face Fit Testing here.
To become competent in delivering Face Fit Testing yourself you will need to attend a Face Fit Testing Workshop course.
Hearing protection is important because being exposed to loud noise for any duration of time can be harmful to your ears. Ensure you wear earmuffs, earplugs or canal caps before working in situations with a high sound level (over 85 decibels). You need to assess your choice of PPE correctly so that you get the right balance of noise reduction and communication with others.
It may seem pretty obvious but it is important; you must wear a helmet or hard hat if you are in an area in which you are at risk of impact from falling objects. You can also use helmets to protect yourself from harmful splashes. Check that your chosen head PPE will fit with the rest of your eye and hearing protection, so choose carefully.
For more information visit – http://www.hse.gov.uk/toolbox/ppe.htm
Take a look at the range of fall protection that is available when working at height here.
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