There’s tons of safety equipment on the market right now. Before purchasing any PPE, conduct proper research on what your employees will need to stay safe at their assigned duties. Identifying the kinds of danger that your employees face on the job is essential to know the appropriate PPE to invest in.
Here’s an essential guide to help you find the best and most essential PPE products.
Conduct a Workplace Hazard Assessment
Have a walk-through around the facility to identify the potential safety threats your employees may face. List all the noted hazards and classify them as follows:
- Impact – how machines work and their movement, falling objects and also sources of electricity.
- Chemical – the types of chemicals used in the facility whether cleaning or manufacturing.
- Biological – any material that could get infected like blood.
- Optical – this may include harmful dust, light radiation from welding, high-intensity lights, and more.
- Penetration – exposure to sharp objects that may cut, poke and puncture.
- Heat/cold – sources of too high or too low temperature.
Perform frequent inspections in case of significant changes in the workplace.
A Guide to Selecting and Buying PPE
After doing a hazard assessment, it is easier to know which PPE to buy. Ensure that the PPE fit the user and that they are comfortable. If an employee needs to put on two or more types of PPE make sure that they are compatible.
Also, consider the design and construction of the PPE. Avoid PPE that does not fit the user well because it could expose the employee to danger.
Read on below to find out the various types of PPE available for minimizing workplace injuries:
1. Head Protection
Having a helmet is a sure way of protecting an employee from head injuries that cannot only impair them but can also be fatal.
Employers should make sure helmets can absorb the shock caused by a blow, they must be water resistant, cannot be easily penetrated by sharp items, do not easily burn and they must have clear instructions on how to wear and adjust the headgear.
Circumstances where head protection comes in handy include:
- If there are exposed electrical wires that come into contact with their heads
- When there are fixed items like poles, beams or pipes that the employees bump into.
- If there are potential risks of things falling on them.
There are different types of hard hats but the 3 main protection categories cover:
- Protection from penetration and hard impact as well as electrical protection (Class A).
- High-voltage and heat protection, as well as hard impact and penetration protection (Class B).
- No protection from electrical contact but offers protection from impact (Class C).
2. Eye and Face Protection
Employees exposed to potential risks like chemical gases and liquids, acids, flying particles, and light radiation should wear the right eye and face protection. Cement dust, for example, can cause irritation of the eyes, which may lead to redness, chemical burns or even impaired vision.
Some common face and eyes protection gear include; goggles, laser safety goggles, face shields, safety spectacles, and welding shields.
Before buying the face and eye protection items make sure they fit properly and they do not hinder vision. They should also be comfortable to wear together with other PPE products.
Durability and easy maintenance of the equipment are also key factors to consider.
Check out our blog post on how to make the most of your eye protection equipment.
3. Respiratory Protection
Exposure to certain hazardous substances in the workplace environment can cause respiratory problems for workers. Providing your workers with personal respiratory protection is essential to preventing these health problems.
There are many different types of respiratory protection equipment that you can get your workers. The best equipment for them depends on the situation and environment.
For example, air-purifying respirators (APRs) filter out particles in the air making it healthier to breathe while supplied-air respirators (SARs) come with an air tank that supplies the wearer with clean air.
Before getting respirators, consider where they are used and the duration of use.
For more info, check out our respiratory protection page.
4. Foot and Leg Protection
If there are heavy items that may roll or fall on an employee’s foot, exposure to hot objects, wet and slippery surfaces, sharp objects and/or electrical dangers an employee should have the appropriate PPE to avoid accidents.
Some options for leg and foot protection include:
- Toe guards – Made of steel, plastic or aluminum, they protect the toes from compression and impact.
- Leggings – Have safety snaps that enable fast removal, and protect the legs and feet from welding sparks and molten metal.
- Combination of foot and shin guard – Offer protection to the lower legs and feet, and are used together with toe guards, if necessary.
- Metatarsal guards – Protect from compression and impact and can be strapped outside the shoes.
- Safety shoes – Offers protection from impact and heat. Some come with metal insoles to protect the user from penetration.
- Foundry shoes – these shoes protect the wearer from molten metal and other extremely heated objects. They come with their own safety toes and have leather or rubber soles along with rubber heels.
- Electrical hazard, safety-toe shoes – They protect the employee from open-circuits. However, they shouldn’t be worn when wet or worn out.
- Electrically conductive shoes – ideal for employees who are at risk of static electricity buildup that could cause an explosion.
5. Arm and Hand Protection
There are different types of protective gloves depending on the resistance against surfaces, grip, the area that needs to be protected, duration of exposure, and nature of contact to objects and type of chemical.
There are four main types of protective gloves:
- Fabric gloves – fabric gloves only offer protection from dirt, chafing and slivers but cannot be used when handling rough surfaces.
- Fabric-coated gloves – these are general purpose and can be used for handling wires to chemicals.
- Insulating rubber gloves – offer protection to users exposed to electrical currents.
- Chemical resistant gloves – Made from different types of rubber or plastic, they offer protection from chemicals and other hazardous liquids.
- Leather, metal mesh or canvas gloves – They mainly protect the hand and arm from heat, cold, and sparks.
6. Hearing Protection
Single-use earplugs pre-formed or molded earplugs and earmuffs can be used by employees exposed to loud noises.
In addition, if the employee is exposed to the noise for a long time, if there are different sources of the noise or if the employee interchanges frequently between different noise levels, they should wear hearing protection.
Be Sure to Train Employees on PPE
Knowing how to choose the right PPE and where to buy the equipment is vital for ensuring the safety of your workers. However, even the best PPE will not work if your workers don’t know how to use and maintain the equipment. With that said, make sure you train your employees on the proper use and care of PPE.
Need expert advice for your project safety needs? Contact us today!