It is important to ensure the correct selection of personal protective equipment is made as not all safety equipment will meet the same performance requirements or provide the same protection. When selecting the appropriate personal protective equipment, consideration should be given to elements such as: durability, permeability, abrasion resistance, burn resistance, insulation, cut resistance, size, comfort, and the ability to be cleaned.
For example, not one type of glove provides adequate protection against all chemicals or a respirator designed to be effective against medium air levels of a chemical may not be effective against high levels of the same chemical.
Personal protective equipment is designed for a specific duty and the most common forms come in these categories:
Head protection in the form of a safety helmet shall be worn where, there is a possibility that a person may be struck on the head by a falling object, a person may strike their head against a fixed object, and there may also be inadvertent head contact with electrical hazards.
Eye protection shall be provided where a risk of eye injury exists. Typical hazards might include flying particles, dust, splashing substances, harmful gases, vapors, aerosols, and high intensity radiation from welding operations.
Hearing protection shall be provided where a risk of noise induced hearing loss exists. The need for hearing protection shall be assessed from the conduct of noise surveys in potential noise hazard areas. If one cannot hear a normal conversation from two feet away, hearing protection is most likely needed.
Respiratory protection shall be provided, after all other practicable measures have been taken to provide control measures, to ensure that no staff member is exposed to an atmosphere that is or may be injurious to health.
Protective clothing and sunscreen shall be provided for staff that are required to work outdoors and are exposed to the sun's rays for continuous periods in a day. Direct exposure of the skin to UV radiation from outdoor work shall be minimized by providing hats, long sleeves/trousers and an adequate supply of sunscreen.
Hand protection shall be provided where there is an identified hazard associated with a potential for hand injury.
Protective footwear or safety shoes shall be provided where the nature of the work exposes the employee to a medium to high risk of injury to feet.
High visibility safety vests shall be provided and worn where there is a risk of injury associated with working on or near roadways or near moving traffic or moving plant.
Fall protection harness should be provided when personnel need to work at heights.
Any protective equipment provided for use should be appropriate for the wearer and that it controls the risk. For the protective equipment to be fully effective, the wearer needs to be trained on its use. Protective equipment should be in a clean and hygienic condition for the wearer. This equipment should not be shared between wearers unless the equipment is deemed to be clean. Any protective equipment used should be stored and located in an appropriate place so that it remains clean and not exposed to the elements. Any storage areas for protective equipment should be clearly defined. Look for the manufacturers label for instruction on care and any special requirements.
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