When you buy a pair of new work boots it is very uncomfortable to go to work wearing those. The boots are too tight and they almost bite into your flesh, giving...
PPE Used Across Different Industries - A Complete Guide
The personal protective equipment (PPE) industry is guided by federal regulations. Using PPE guarantees worker safety. Employers are responsible for the work and health of the workers. They are aware of the hazards and risks in your industry sector. The OSHA and ASTM review these standards every 5 years. The effort is to update the standards to meet the industry requirements. To meet these standards, the manufacturing protocols and procedures are updated. And the PPE is made to meet these safety standards. We will discuss the types of PPE and the industries that use them.
Types Of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
There are various types of PPE;
For the Safety of the Head, helmets are mandatory. They prevent head injuries. The basic structure of the helmet is adapted to existing working conditions. There many elegant designs on the market to choose from. They also have extra options such as adjustable internal harnesses and sweatbands built into these helmets.
Protection of the Eyes with safety glasses. Eyes are the most fragile and complex part of the body. Each day over 600 people sustain eye injuries at their workplaces. The eyewear even protects against bright and infrared radiation. The welding goggles shield against the blinding light and sparks.
Protection of the Ears with earplugs. These plugs mute the sounds by not allowing them to enter the ears. This is known as a physical noise cancellation. Earmuffs are recommended for noisy workplaces.
Protection of the Nose using the mask. This mask not only protects the lining of the nose but also the respiratory system. Close to 15% of employees inhale vapors, anhydrous chemicals, smoke, dust, and other substances as a part of an occupational hazard. A full-face mask is recommended for people working in highly toxic environments. These masks adhere to the face protecting the nose, mouth, and skin of the face.
Protection of Hands using the right gloves for various applications. The right gloves protect against lesions, cuts, bruises, etc. Some gloves protect from vibrations, cuts by sharp objects, and pathogens. Insulated gloves protect against heat and cold. Chemical resistant gloves are used to protect from splashes and spills of reagents and chemicals.
Protection of Feet using the right safety footwear. There are boots and there are slip-ons. The safety boots have all the protective features built into them. While slip-ons are worn over street shoes. Safety boots are an ideal solution and protection. They offer impact, compression, and puncture resistance. These boots have anti-skid outsoles for working in damp environments. If the personnel work on snow or icy surfaces, the boots should have cram-on or shoe claws that offer non-slip grip and traction. There are special socks that offer extra comfort.
Protective cover for the Body is crucial in the workshop. This workshop is not only full of bodies but also machines, grease, reagents, etc. In case the crew works in dimly lit conditions, opt for high-visibility jackets and pants. They should be made of tough fabrics that may be reinforced or treated to repel water, stains, static charge, etc. Flame retardant and heat reflective materials are ideal for working in high-temperature conditions. As in the case of gloves, boots, and helmets, the bodysuits differ by application.
A First Aid Kit is a solution for the worst-case scenario. There are fit aid kits for eyes, snake bites, etc. Specialized first aid kits have been developed for specific applications. Employers should ensure they are available for workers. In case the employees come in contact with hazardous chemicals, a safety shower is mandatory. They can rinse the substances to prevent absorption through the skin.
Pictograms prevent accidents. These pictograms inform of the risks in that work environment. These diagrams alert to the risks preventing accidents. They indicate inflammable substances, recommend hearing protection, emergency exits, etc.
Benefits Of Various Types of PPE
Here we enumerate the benefits of specific types of PPE.
There are various types of helmets required at various workplaces.
- Climbing or crash helmets protect the head in case of a fall.
- Safety helmets protect from falling objects.
- Bump helmets protect from striking one’s head against scalping, fixed objects, and entanglement.
- Hairnets and caps prevent the hair from falling into food, entanglement, or scalping
- Ear defenders are extensions of the helmet to cover the ears.
These helmets are used in workplaces such as;
- construction sites
- working near hoists
- worksites where falling objects are a possibility
- blast work for example as quarries, mining, etc.
- tree felling
- sites with low level fixed objects such as scaffolding, pipes, etc
There are two types of goggles and glasses, respectively.
- Goggles against splash protection – is ideal for working with chemicals. They protect from eye irritation and damage. They shield the eyes from splashes.
- Goggles against impact – This eyewear protects against physical impact such as flying debris.
- Safety Glasses for General Protection – offers protection from debris and splashes. Specialized goggles are custom-built against specific threats.
- Glasses with laser protection – protect against radiation. Lasers can damage the eyes and impair their function. Most laser glasses meet and exceed the required level of protection.
Ear defenders are used as temporary measures while choosing proper PPE for control measures. They should not be used as an organizational or technical means of noise control. Ear protection equipment is to be provided to all workers;
- Low exposure action value is the average daily or weekly exposure to 80 decibels of sound. The employer should make ear protection available, give training and information about the working conditions and the PPE.
- The upper exposure action value is the daily or weekly average of noise at 85 decibels. Steps should be taken to reduce exposure to the noise. Administrative, engineering and technical measures and controls should be applied. If the noise level is not diminished, then use the PPE for ears.
- High exposure – No worker should be exposed to noises above 87 decibels. Exposure to sound pressure above 137 – 140 decibels can cause loss of hearing and other debilitating conditions.
This nose and respiratory protection should be used after inspection. There are;
- Respirators & cartridges – These barriers protect from inhalation of mists, fumes, and other fine dust that may be generated in the work environment. There are full masks and half masks that offer varying degrees of protection. The respiratory cartridge inserted determines the kind of protection offered. The PPE should be evaluated and fit tested before use.
- N-95 Respirators – These nose protective equipment protect against airborne pathogens. These pathogens may be spread diseases such as tuberculosis, COVID-19, influenza, etc. The equipment should be evaluated and fit tested before use.
- Surgical masks – These protective equipment protect from virulent samples, live animals, and other carriers and infectious materials in biological labs. They do not require fit-testing or evaluation before use.
There are various types of protective equipment for hands. They are suitable for use in various hazardous work environments.
- Chemical resistant gloves – There are heavy, heavy to light, and light chemical resistant gloves. They selected on their resistance to chemical strengths.
- Insulated gloves – These gloves have insulating material between the inner and outer lining of the glove. They offer thermal protection against freezing to burning hot conditions. They protect the hands from burning, freezing, or numbing conditions.
- Light latex gloves – These are the basic and cost-effective PPE used to protect from biohazards and splashes.
- Wire mesh gloves – These gloves have a strong exterior to withstand hazards such as cuts, abrasions, etc. These gloves are used in the food processing industry such as abattoir, canning, preservation, etc.
Safety boots are picked according to the work environment. Some boots protect from –
- Electrical Safety – These boots are made of an insulating material such as rubber. They prevent the flow of electric current through the body.
- Spinning blades – These boots protect the foot from fast-spinning objects such as circular saws.
- Falling Objects – These boots protect from hard objects and debris falling from above or sideways.
- Puncture resistance – These boots protect the foot from impaling objects from underneath. These objects may be nails, sharp metal plates, broken glass, etc.
- Heavy objects and machines – Safety boots with metatarsal guards built into the upper. It protects from impact and compression. These boots should be worn while working with heavy machinery, road rollers, sledgehammers, etc.
- Moisture resistance – These boots are made from quick-dry materials to prevent the build-up of mold, mildew, and moisture. These boots are sealed and waterproof/resistant.
- Explosion safety – These boots are made of static dissipative materials such as rubber, leather, etc. A spark can cause an explosion. These boots are work in warehouses where static generating materials such as plastics, nylons, styrofoam, etc are stored.
- Slip resistance – These boots have a rubber or polyurethane outsole. The outsole has channels, treads, and lugs that offer better grip and traction on the substratum.
The PPE Used By Industry
Here is an in-depth analysis of the applications of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE);
Oil & Gas Industry
The front liners of this industry are faced with hazardous work conditions and chemicals. There are mechanical threats such as chains, drills, ropes, hand tools. The workers are provided with wearables such as tough hand gloves as PPE. The other protective equipment may be hard hats, flame resistant clothing, steel-toe boots, safety glasses, etc. There are systems to monitor various gases such as hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide, etc in enclosed environments. These systems are the latest additions to the off-shore drilling safety programs by OSHA mandate.
OSHA and the construction companies are fastidious about their workers wearing PPE. This is because they work with heavy machines such as mixers, crushers, hammers, power tools, etc. Therefore it is recommended they wear hard hats, safety boots, coveralls, face shields, air purifiers, and eye protection. High visibility apparel is recommended while working on the roads in dim and dark conditions.
These industries work with harmful and infectious substances to develop drugs. Cytotoxic drugs are effective in treating various diseases, but they can pose a threat to the person handling them. PPE is recommended to protect nurses, health care workers, paramedical and medical staff, etc. PPE protects the workers from chemical and biological substances thus it is prudent to wear gloves, face masks depending upon the intensity of the material. Hazmat suits, coveralls, and other bodysuits are recommended.
Manufacturing involves working with chemical and biological substances. These substances are subjected to various chemical reactions and processes. Each step has its hazards. The working conditions are accessed, and the PPE is recommended. They may require gloves, face masks, eye protection, nose protection, safety shoes, or comfortable ones. While in other industries, auxiliary and primary processes require metal and welding works. These may require masks and goggles to protect from the glare. Other places such as foundries and smelters may require flame retardant boots, face-shield, clothing, and helmets.
Food & Beverage Industries
These industries have strict work conditions besides stringent regulations regarding hygiene & quality control. They monitor for contamination, shelf life, the ingredients that go into the food. Not adhering to these standards has a direct impact on the reputation and finance of the company. They are required to use PPE similar to the ones used in the pharmaceutical industry.
Health Care Industry
This is a major sector of medical protection that requires interaction with patients and medical laboratories. These places produce biomedical waste that requires proper handling and disposal. Thus medical gowns, gloves, protective masks are very much in demand. There are medical staff, food delivery, nurses, orderlies, and others who are at the risk of infection. The PPE should not only serve as a barrier between the person and the infectious environment. It should be puncture-, chemical-, and tear-resistant. It should not be absorbent, as certain substances can be absorbed through the skin.
What is the walkthrough survey for hazard assessment?
The walkthrough survey for hazard assessment studies the work environment under the hazard category of;
- Extreme temperature – hot or cold
- Harmful dust
- Radiation and optical
Enlist the sources of occupational injuries?
Occupational injuries are known to occur because of;
- Sources of electricity
- Moving parts and machines which may impact or compress the workers’ extremities
- Sources of fire, burns, eye injuries
- Various types of chemicals – liquid and anhydrous chemicals
- Sources of various types of dust
- Light radiation such as laser, brazing, welding, cutting, furnaces, high-intensity lights, etc.
- Dropping objects that may cause compression or impact
- Sharp objects that could impale, stab or puncture
- Biological hazards such as infectious blood, body fluids, etc.
What is PPE Training for employees?
Employers are not only supposed to access their workplace for potential hazards. But also responsible for choosing the PPE and training the employees regarding their use. The training covers;
- When to use the PPE
- What PPE to use
- How to use it properly – put on, take off and adjust the PPE
- The limitations of specific PPE
- How to take care and maintain the PPE to prolong its life
What factors should the worker take into consideration while choosing the PPE?
The PPE should,
- be able to protect against workplace hazards
- fit properly and be comfortable to wear
- provide unrestricted movement and vision
- be easy to clean and durable
- allow unrestricted functioning when used with other PPE.
The use of PPE across different industries is easily applicable. Study the work environment, access the risks, and then decide the type of PPE required. Choosing the right type of PPE will help protect your health. OSHA conducts training and offers other help to update the company’s practice of ASTM Standards. The PPE should be inspected at the time of use. It should be replaced at the first sign of wear or compromise. The lifespan of most PPE is one year if they are used regularly.
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