The workplace is full of hazards. Whether you’re working in the construction sector, the automobile industry, manufacturing, or any other similar set-up, as an employer, it is your utmost responsibility to ensure that your employees remain safe from any illnesses or injuries resulting from workplace hazards. According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, timely and proactive identification of any possible hazards present in the work environment is a crucial factor in maximizing and improvising efforts to reduce new or persistent workplace risks.
Is workplace safety only related to the health of the employer and employees? The answer is a resounding no. Work-related accidents also have a negative impact on the company’s overall reputation, production, and bottom line and employee morale. Research has shown that people who have either been through an injury themselves or have witnessed their colleagues getting injured experience numerous symptoms of depression. While it’s true that despite taking all necessary measures, occupational hazards are inevitable, it is also important to remember that the way employers prepare to deal with any expected or unexpected dangers is what guarantees the best outcomes for a safer workplace.
There are two ways to achieve this objective. One is by encouraging and implementing the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) according to work operations and the other is by following the general workplace safety tips such as staying alert, having an organized workspace, abiding by safety rules, and more. In this article, we’ll examine why personal protective equipment is important and what are the common types of PPE and their uses.
Why Personal Protective Equipment?
As the name suggests, it acts as a shield between external hazards and the worker. It not only prevents any probable physical harm or injuries but also makes employees take responsibility for their own safety and improves the quality of work life. While different types of personal protective equipment are available, their usage may vary according to the workplace, the nature of the task, and potential hazards involved. Broadly, the following are the common types of PPE:
1 – Head Safety: Helmets & Hard Hats
Head protection is a significant aspect of workplace safety equipment in environments where workers are exposed to high-grade industrial hazards such as injuries from falling objects, penetration, impact, and electric shocks. To offer maximum protection to the workers against severe head injuries, it is important to provide them with equipment such as helmets, hard hats, or bump caps. By using helmets and protective hats that are robust, reliable, and adaptive to the exterior conditions; a great degree of damage to the lives and well-being of the workers can be prevented.
2- Eye Safety: Safety Glasses, Goggles & Face Shields
Did you know? As per the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, workers sustain eye injuries during their work not only because of failing to wear the requisite protective eye-wear but also because of wearing the wrong type. Therefore, it is important to understand and use eye protectors that are appropriate to the work setting and in accordance with the specific hazards against which they are designed to offer protection. For instance, safety goggles can be used for operations such as drilling and cutting as they protect against dust particles in the air, and face shields are best suited for work such as welding as they are designed to offer safety against optical radiation.
3- Workplace Hand Safety: Gloves & Hand Pads
Hands and fingers are often at risk of injuries such as cuts, burns, chemical injuries, electrical hazards, and even amputation in the worst-case scenario. It is essential to protect them from these hazards by promoting the use of safety gloves and hand pads that are designed to fit particular tasks and requirements. For example, leather work gloves such as the ones offered by Elite leather are ideal for welding tasks as they are greatly abrasion and heat resistant whereas rubber and synthetic fiber gloves are suitable to be used for tasks that involve dealing with solvents, oils, and chemicals due to their excellent oil-resistant properties.
4- Respiratory Protection: Masks, Respirators & Breathing Apparatus
Respiratory protective equipment is a special type of PPE that consists of an assortment of dust masks, chemical respirators, and air-breathing apparatus that helps protect against harmful contaminants in the air, dust particles, toxic gases, and fumes and also facilitates breathing process where oxygen levels are relatively low such as for workers working in mines.
5- Ear Safety: Hearing Protection Devices
If you’re working in an environment with high sound levels, it is vital to consider using hearing protection devices such as earplugs to reduce the chances of hearing loss or impairment resulting from exposure to such noise levels. It is recommended to discard the disposable earplugs after a single use and to thoroughly clean the non-disposable ones to ensure adequate maintenance and efficiency.
Summing up, every workplace has potential hazards and it doesn’t matter whether you’re an employer or an employee when it comes to workplace safety, the responsibility befalls on everyone equally to introduce and foster best practices to create a safe working environment for all.