Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is used as temporary (until more effective hazard control techniques can be used) or last line of protection for workers against hazards. The PPE you use will depend on the work environment, the work conditions, and the process being performed.
Each piece of PPE has a specific use and may be made of specialized materials appropriate for one use, but not appropriate for another. For example, thick natural rubber gloves will protect the wearer from strong solutions of sodium hypochlorite (bleach) for an 8 hour working day, but it will not protect them from ammonia hydroxide as effectively.
It is also important to remember that wearing the right PPE is important. PPE does not reduce the workplace hazard nor does it guarantee permanent or total protection for the wearer. Simply having Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) available is not enough. In order to ensure the required level of protection:
- PPE should be selected considering the type of hazard and the degree of protection required.
- PPE should be useable in the presence of other workplace hazards.
- Users should be trained in proper use and fit of the PPE.
- PPE should be properly stored and maintained.
- If PPE is found to be defective, it should be discarded and replaced.
Wherever people work, there may be a need for PPE. This slide shows some typical jobs, hazards and PPE requirements for various jobs.
Working with Chemicals
When working with chemicals, personal protective equipment is worn by workers to reduce or eliminate the exposure. The MSDSs (see Chemical Hazard Notes) for chemicals in the classroom or in the workplace will list the right PPE to wear. Not all types of PPE will protect against all hazards so it is important to always check the MSDS first before using both the chemical and the PPE.
PPE commonly used when working with chemicals includes:
|Safety Glasses||eyes||chemical liquid splashes, dust|
|Hard Hat||head||falling material|
|Ear Protection||hearing||excessive noise|
|Gloves||hands||corrosives, toxic materials|
|Respirator||lungs||toxic gases, vapours, fumes or dust|
|Clothing||skin||toxic or corrosive materials|
|Footwear||feet||corrosive, toxic materials|
Industrial or Construction Workplaces
Safety footwear, eye protection and head protection are minimum requirements for most jobs. Commonly used types of PPE in industrial and construction workplaces include:
- head protection (hard hats) for protection against falling objects;
- safety glasses for protection against intense light, UV rays, infra-red rays (radiation from hot objects) and flying objects, such as wood chips, dust particles and metal pieces;
- earplugs or earmuffs for protection against noise;
- safety footwear for protection against crushing of toes;
- safety gloves for protection against contact with toxic chemicals and electric wires; and
- fall protection equipment for protection from falls from heights.
Job-specific personal protective equipment may be needed for jobs such as for welding, working with kilns or molten metals, and working with sharp tools.