Everyone who works in an industrial environment is probably familiar with the concept of personal protective equipment (PPE). Protective gear such as goggles, gloves, and steel-toe boots is usually required out on the floor for employees. PPE is also an important concept in hazardous waste disposal and cleanup, so today we’re going to talk a little bit about the basics of PPE and how a set of guidelines is established.
Assessing Hazards that Require PPE
When a company is looking to implement or revise a PPE plan, they refer to OSHA guidelines that detail special requirements. Businesses assess the safety hazards in their facilities in order to determine the kinds of safety equipment that their employees may need. Impacts, roll-over, temperature, chemical, electrical, sharp objects, bio-hazards, and dust are all examples of the kinds of hazards an employee might be subjected to in the course of an average workday. By assessing the hazards inherent in a workplace setting, managers can make more accurate decisions about what kinds of PPE may need to be provided.
Types of PPE
Personal protective equipment can come in many different forms to protect various aspects of an employee from physical and health hazards. There are generally seven different categories of PPE recognized by employers and OSHA.
- Head Protection: hard hats, which are one of the most visible and recognizable forms of protective equipment, designed to strict specifications to provide protection against head trauma.
- Hand Protection: gloves are the most common types of hand protection and are designed to protect employees from chemical burns and absorption, bruises, cuts, and fractures.
- Eye and Face Protection: safety glasses, face shields, and welding masks protect the wearer’s face. These must be fitted well in order to provide an acceptable level of protection.
- Foot and Leg Protection: steel-toed boots and leggings protect the wearer’s feet and legs from hazards such as falling objects and hot surfaces.
- Hearing Protection: earplugs and earmuffs are used to protect a worker’s hearing from the damaging effects of loud noises.
- Body Protection: full-body hazmat suits are often used in extremely hazardous situations such as those working close to corrosive materials.
- Respiratory Protection: gasses, vapors, dust, and smoke will require respirators or facemasks to protect the worker’s lungs from their harmful effects.
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