Personal protective equipment is a necessity in many industrial fields. Commonly known as PPE, personal protective equipment is worn in order to minimize a person’s exposure to serious workplace illnesses and injuries. Chemical, radiological, electrical, mechanical, and physical hazards are examples where personal protective equipment is needed. This equipment could include full body suits, vests, coveralls, respirators, hard hats, earplugs, safety shoes and glasses, and gloves.
Designing personal protective equipment to meet the needs of each hazardous job function is crucial to protecting workers. US Standard Products explains some of the types of hazards and personal protective equipment that can be used to minimize the risk to employees in all industrial functions.
One of the most important considerations when planning for personal protective equipment is whether the items are comfortable and easy to use. If they cause discomfort or inconvenience, employees are far less likely to use them. Careful design and employee input can help to mitigate this problem. The equipment must fit properly to defend the wearer against hazards. Employees must also be fully trained on how to use their equipment to ensure their safety.
Employees should be trained on the following subjects: when to use the equipment, what kind they should use, how to put it on and wear it, the equipment’s limitations, and the proper care of the equipment. Employees should know when their equipment should be replaced in the event of damage or wear and tear. Having an established workplace PPE program can go a long way toward ensuring safety for all workers.
OSHA, the Federal Occupation, Safety, and Health Administration of the United States Department of Labor, regulates the use of personal protective equipment for many different occupations. Some of the conditions that require this equipment are eye and face protection, noise exposure, hazardous waste, fire protection, ventilation, and respiratory protection. Head protection, foot protection, and electrical protective equipment are also important.
One of the most serious causes of workplace injury and death in the United States is from falls and being crushed by objects or in small spaces. For employees with a risk of falling, protective equipment is necessary. Employees also need to be properly trained and equipped to work in confined spaces.
Payment for Personal Protective Equipment
The employer must pay for personal protective equipment, except in limited cases. Safety-toed boots and prescription safety glasses are exempt, and the employee must pay for them. The reason why these items must be paid for by the employee is that these items are frequently worn away from the jobsite.
Other Fields where Protective Equipment is Necessary
Industrial applications are not the only place where protective equipment is necessary on the job. Medical and infectious workplaces are another major area where these are used. Hazmat suits, respirators, and gloves are a few examples of these types of equipment. Safety glasses are another crucial piece of the puzzle. Since these occupations may expose employees to serious medical issues, this equipment is a must. Doctors, nurses, and lab employees may use these personal protection items.
The particular concern in the medical field is in preventing the spread of contagion. Protective gowns and gloves became required in the 1970s. Pathogens like drug-resistant bacteria and the HIV virus made it especially crucial to protect medical employees. When these items are properly used, the risk of infection by viruses and bacteria is greatly decreased.
One area which has made significant strides in safety and comfort is the basic glove. Many health care workers are allergic to latex, so powder-free, nitrile, and latex-free gloves are being produced. Eye shields and disposable face shields are other pieces of equipment that medical and dental employees need on a day-to-day basis.
Food service is another area where personal protective equipment is necessary. This overlaps with its use in the medical field because of the common goal of preventing infection and cross-contamination. Employees must often wear hats, hair nets, gloves, and beard covers. Changing these items frequently will protect the customer from disease and infection. Sanitary protections are crucial for use in this day and age when food-borne illnesses are in the public eye.
The Importance of Personal Protective Equipment
Personal protective equipment can provide a crucial bridge between employee safety and industrial requirements. Many jobs are dangerous as a matter of course, and employers need to mitigate these dangers as much as possible. Employees who use personal protective equipment are more likely to be productive on the job and to take their responsibilities seriously. When people do not use the equipment that is provided for them, this could be cause for discipline or, in extreme cases, firing from the job.
US Standard Products encourages all employers to carefully consider their safety plan and to make sure that they are using the best possible equipment for their employees’ protection.