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A Guide To PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)

Maintaining workplace health and safety is something every business should be on top of. Whether its conducting risk assessments or providing training to staff, it’s crucial to create an environment that is safe for employers and employees to work in. PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is one way of ensuring that possible risks in the workplace are reduced. Below, we will cover everything you need to know about PPE.

What is PPE?

PPE, also known as Personal Protective Equipment, can be defined as equipment that protects users from heath and safety risks in the workplace. PPE could include equipment such as eye protection, helmets, gloves, high visibility clothing and much more.

Disposable PPE can also be used in the workplace if they are for single use. PPE can protect users from any form of chemical, radiological, physical, electrical or mechanical hazards. Businesses have to provide staff with the use of PPE in their work to minimise any risks to their health and safety.

As a general rule, businesses should ask themselves:

  • Who is exposed to what?
  • For how long are they exposed?
  • ​How much are they exposed to?t

Why is PPE important?

If you happen to be a labourer, or you work with labourers, you will be well aware of the safety issues that come with the job.

It is so common for accidents to happen in the construction industry, however, accidents are frequently caused by the absence or failure to wear the correct Personal Protective Equipment that is required for the job.

Not only will PPE help you to avoid potential risks in the workplace, choosing to use PPE could save your life!

Ensuring workplace safety entails providing instructions, procedures, training and supervision to encourage people to work safely and responsibly.

Potential hazards to workplace safety could include:

  • Breathing in contaminated air
  • Falling materials
  • Flying particles or splashes of corrosive liquids
  • Contact with corrosive materials
  • Extremes forms of heat or cold.

What are the 4 levels of PPE?

PPE can be divided into 4 different levels depending on the degree of protection involved. Below, we will identify each level and describe what it consists of.

Level A

Level A protection is needed when you need to protect the skin, eyes, mucous membrane and the respiratory system. Typical equipment for this level may include a fully encapsulating chemical protective suit, chemical resistant gloves, and positive pressure self-contained breathing apparatus.

Level B

Level B protection is the need for the highest levels of respiratory protection but not as much so for skin and eye protection. Typical equipment for Level B protection includes positive pressure self-contained breathing apparatus, chemical resistant clothing and chemical resistant gloves (inner and outer).

Level C

Level C protection is needed when the type of airborne substance is known, concentration measured, criteria for using air-purifying respirators met, and skin and eye exposure unlikely. Typical equipment for Level C type protection includes a full-face or half-face mask, air-purifying respirator and chemical-resistant clothing.

Level D

Level D protection is needed for nuisance contamination only. This type of equipment is usually working uniforms such as coveralls and safety shoes.

What are the different types of PPE?

There are several different types of protective equipment you should be aware of. The main types of PPE protection are listed below:

Head Protection

Commonly used on construction sites, hard hats will ensure workers are protected from any falling or flying objects that could result in serious injury.

Eye and Face Protection

It’s crucial to protect the eyes and face of workers if they are being exposed to any dangerous risks. Equipment would include safety goggles, spectacle and full-face shields. This type of equipment is common for people who work with metal, wood or heat.

Respiratory protection

It is vital to protect the respiratory system if people are exposed to toxic substances in the workplace. Although you may not be able to see these substances, it doesn’t take away from the fact that they can be deadly. You will need to be protected from fumes, paint spray, pesticides and much more.

Hand & Skin Protection

In jobs that involve using your hands, e.g. construction, you can expect risks such as contact dermatitis, skin cancers, and other skin injuries. This is why it is crucial to use the correct gloves depending on the situation. Heat-resistant, cut-resistant and chemical resistant gloves are just a few examples of ways to prevent hazards when working with chemicals, metals, electricity and more.

Hearing Protection

Many workers who work in noisy environments are subject to harmful levels of noise. These levels can result in loss of hearing, which nobody wants. Earmuffs and earplugs are critical to utilise if your working environment contains harmful frequencies.

Parr Group Team

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