How Important it to have Personal Protective Equipment?

Safety today, in a working environment, is a serious issue for businesses that respect the rights of their employees and the legislation around the subject of health and safety. Every year, accidents occur frequently in the working environment, often as a result of the absence of (or failure to wear) Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). PPE is equipment that protects workers against health and safety risks on the job. Its purpose is to reduce exposure to hazards where work environment risk assessment planning is not, in itself, effective to reducing the risks to acceptable levels. In the workplace these hazards can range from slip trip and falls to falling fragments and a multitude of other risks. The most popular PPE items include helmets, respiratory protective equipment, eye protection, footwear, high-visibility clothing and safety harnesses.

The wearing of helmets or hard hats is a health and safety requirement in working environments such as construction sites and have saved many lives since their introduction. Some stories on how hard hats have saved lives: http://www.safetytrainingservices.net/sts-blog/safety-saves-lives-6-times-a-hard-hat-saved-someone-from-death Designed to protect against falling objects that would otherwise crush or penetrate the worker’s head there are a number of classifications of hard hats available to suit the workplace requirements. Accessories that come with some hard hats are face shields and earmuffs providing protection against dust and noise. Most important for effective safety is that the hard hats should be well-fitted and should have adequate adjustment for use.

Respiratory protection is most important in dusty or where toxic substances are present. The relatively new emergence of Covid 19 virus has also presented a new requirement for protection against the transmission of the virus through airborne droplet infection. Respiratory protectors are designed to protect against dust, fumes, airborne viruses, pesticides and other dangerous substances that could damage the health of its user. Respiratory protection equipment (RPE), like other PPE, are governed EU directives and are accredited with the CE mark. There are two types of RPE that are commonly used in the workplace, either filtering devices or breathing apparatus device types. The first type uses filters to remove the contaminants in the workplace air. In a negative pressure device air purifying filters are attached via an inhalation valve to a tight fitting face piece. The negative pressure relative to the air outside the respirator is created by inhalation of air, drawing the contaminated air through the purifying filter. In the second type a fresh air hose, airline, and demand valve uses an independent supply of breathing quality air, for example an air cylinder or compressor and as a general rule these devices are used for more hazardous exposures.

Safety goggles, spectacles and full face shields can give the user the protection needed for the eyes and face.

Selecting the most suitable eye and face protection should take into consideration the following elements:

  • Ability to protect against specific workplace hazards
  • Should fit properly and be reasonably comfortable to wear
  • Should provide unrestricted vision and movement
  • Should be durable and cleanable
  • Should allow unrestricted functioning of any other required PPE

Categories to consider and their use include Safety Glasses, Chemical Splash Goggles, Dust Goggles, Fluid Resistant Shields, Face Shields, Laser Eyewear and Welding Shields.

ISO 20471:2013 specifies requirements for high visibility clothing which is capable of visually signalling the user’s presence. The high visibility clothing is intended to provide conspicuity of the wearer in any light condition when viewed by operators of vehicles or other mechanized equipment during daylight conditions and under illumination of headlights in the dark. Performance requirements are included for colour and retroreflection as well as for the minimum areas and for the placement of the materials in protective clothing.

It specified three classes of garments:

Class 1 defines the lowest visibility level e.g. High-visibility trousers with two 5 cm reflective bands around each leg. These become Class 3 when worn with a Class 3 jacket.

The class 2 defines an intermediary visibility level. Example: vests. Two 5 cm bands of reflective around body or on one 5 cm band around body and braces to both shoulders. (This class is required for motor vehicles in France and other continental EU member states).

The class 3 defines the highest level of visibility. Example jacket with long sleeves, jacket and trouser suit. Two 5 cm bands of reflective tape around the body, arms and braces over both shoulders. Class 3 should be worn when working within 1.2 meters of a Highway with traffic moving in excess of 50 km/h.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.