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Why PPE Equipment is a Crucial Element For Safety At Work

PPE Equipment (Personal protective equipment) is clothing that provides the user or wearer with protection against potential hazards. In many jobs, PPE is an everyday requirement to keep workers safe.

In this essential guide to PPE, we’ll examine why Personal protective equipment is a crucial element for safety at work. 

Why is Personal Protective Equipment?

PPE is important because it minimizes the risks from hazards in a person’s working environment. This could be anything from excessive noise to hazardous chemicals. Environmental risks and hazards are an unavoidable part of many jobs, but PPE helps mitigate them.

Without the appropriate PPE equipment, workers would be exposed to potential injuries or health risks in either the short or long term. PPE offers protection against these risks, reducing the likelihood of harm and enabling the person to do their job safely.

In the UK, the PPE at Work Regulations 1992 set out employer responsibilities regarding PPE provision, and these guidelines were updated and extended in April 2022.

What are the types of PPE?

Personal protective equipment is specially designed to protect different parts of a wearer’s body, depending on the activity they are carrying out or the environment they’re working in.

PPE is Generally Divided into the Following Categories

  • 1. Head & Feet

This covers some of the most well-known PPE items, such as hard hats to protect construction workers from falling items and heavy-duty work boots or non-slip footwear.

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  •  Eyes

PPE for the eyes comes in several forms, including googles and safety glasses to guard against splashes, debris, or radiation.

  •  Lungs

This type of PPE includes surgical masks and respirators and is used in environments where the air may be contaminated. This might be by hazardous fumes, chemical vapors, airborne diseases, or particles such as dust.

  • Body

Personal protective equipment to protect the body includes aprons, coveralls, and lab coats, designed to prevent hazardous substances or bodily fluids from coming into contact with a worker’s skin or clothing.

  • Skin

Gloves and long-sleeved gowns can protect bare skin on hands and arms from potential hazards, such as corrosive liquids and biological hazards.

There are, of course, other types of personal protective equipment designed to protect other body parts, such as ear defenders to protect your hearing from being damaged by loud noises and more specific safety equipment, like hi-vis clothing, for example, or insulated gloves when handling hot substances or working with open flame. 

Industries that use Personal protective equipment

PPE is a daily requirement in many industries, enabling workers in these sectors to carry out their jobs without undue risk.

Here are some of the industries that utilize PPE.

  • Construction
  • Transport
  • Healthcare
  • Firefighters
  • Childcare
  • The food industry
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Animal care and handling
  • Horticulture
  • Oil & Gas
  • Utility workers, such as electricians
  • Manufacturing

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In Summary

Many organizations across multiple industries use PPE equipment to protect workers from the potential hazards they’re exposed to regularly during their work. PPE in the workplace is vital to protect workers’ health and safety and reduce the likelihood of injury or illness as a result of workplace hazards.

PPE comes in many forms, from the obvious such as hard hats and goggles to more specific and specialized types of PPE like respirators. In many cases, PPE access to and use is mandated in law.

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