Ensuring workplace safety: A guide to the types of Personal Protective Equipment
11th December 2023

Employers have a legal obligation to ensure the safety and well-being of their employees by mitigating health and safety risks. This includes the provision of high-quality Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when a risk assessment indicates its necessity. For the sake of safeguarding their health and safety, employees may be required to wear a range of PPE items, including safety helmets, gloves, eye or hearing protection, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear, and harnesses.

In addition, PPE encompasses respiratory protective equipment (RPE), which serves the crucial purpose of preventing workers from inhaling harmful substances such as dust, mist, gas, or fumes.

It is important to consider the below points when implementing a PPE strategy.

Eye Protection

Various hazards pose a threat to the eyes, encompassing risks like chemical or metal splashes, dust, projectiles, exposure to gas and vapor, as well as radiation.

To safeguard against these risks, there is a range of PPE options available, including safety spectacles, goggles, face screens, face shields, and visors.

When selecting PPE for eye protection, it is vital to ensure that the chosen equipment offers the right combination of safeguards against potential hazards, such as impact, dust, splashes, or molten metal. Additionally, the PPE must be suitable for the specific task at hand and, most importantly, must fit the user correctly to provide effective protection.

Head Protection

The head is susceptible to a range of potential hazards, including the danger of falling or airborne objects.

To counter these risks, a variety of PPE options are available, including safety helmets, bump caps, and hairnets. It's worth noting that some safety helmets are designed to incorporate or can be equipped with specially engineered eye or hearing protection.

Always replace head protection if it is damaged, to ensure that it continues to provide the necessary protection.

Ear Protection

Hearing hazards primarily stem from exposure to noise, which is influenced by both the sound level and the duration of exposure. It's important to recognize that even very high-level sounds can pose a hazard, even in cases of short-term exposure.

To counteract the risks associated with excessive noise, there are several PPE options at your disposal, including earplugs and ear defenders.

The ideal hearing protectors are those that effectively reduce noise to a safe and acceptable level, all while facilitating safety and communication within the work environment.

Hand Protection

The hands are susceptible to a range of potential hazards, including abrasion, extreme temperatures, cuts, impacts, exposure to chemicals, electric shock, radiation, biological agents, and prolonged immersion in water.

To protect against these hazards, a variety of PPE options are available, including gloves (including those with cuffs), gauntlets, and arm sleeves that cover either a portion or the entirety of the arm.

Respiratory Protection

Workers should be trained to use, check, and clean the RPE. When choosing respiratory protection, whether disposable respirators or reusable face masks, it’s important to select the correct level of protection against airborne particles such as dust, fumes, and viruses, protecting workers in various environments. Depending on the application, valved or unvalved, FFP1, FFP2, or FFP3 respirators should be selected to protect against the hazard in hand.

Disposable respirators should be changed regularly, and filters on reusable RPE should be changed according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Equipment should be stored in clean environment in line with the manufacturer’s guidance. Fit Testing is essential for tight-fitting RPE to ensure the seal of the mask fits the wearers facial shape correctly. This will ensure the correct protection against airborne particles. Regular Face Fit Testing is recommended, for further guidance please see the INDG479 (https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/i...).

Protective Clothing

Protective clothing options include reusable or disposable overalls, boiler suits, aprons, and chemical suits.

When selecting the appropriate PPE, it is crucial to consider the risk and also specific requirements of the task. Tailoring the choice of PPE to the specific application of the job is essential to ensure comprehensive protection for the entire body.

Globus 360 Programme

Ensuring PPE is compatible is also a necessity. The Globus 360 programme can help you assess and decide what PPE is required for your specific industry and application, with a thorough assessment and ongoing support provided.

To find out more about the Globus 360 programme, click here.

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