Your quick guide to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
What a year it has been! From bush fires burning the nation, to shutting half the economy down. It really has become a time where PPE is no longer an afterthought.
Shortages of personal protective equipment has made headlines, and the importance of such equipment has been brought home to us time and time again.
We have all certainly heard the term PPE quite a lot recently. We see doctors and other healthcare workers going about the business of saving lives geared up in masks, gloves, and protective googles.
PPE in industry, construction and mining
But healthcare is not the only area where practitioners need protection. PPE has long been a part of the construction industry, and refers to anything used or worn to minimise risk to workers’ health and safety.
Employers are required to provide a safe working environment. They must implement safety measures to prevent injuries to workers. These measures usually include providing PPE to their employees.
So what types of PPE are most commonly needed?
PPE is available to protect virtually any part of the body. But there is a bare minimum of PPE that is often required onsite. This is known as the 5 points of PPE.
What are the 5 points of PPE?
- Safety helmet
- Protective eyewear
- Protective gloves
- Safety Boots
- High visibility clothing
How effective are hard hats?
Hardhats are, perhaps, the most easily identifiable piece of construction PPE gear. We’ve all seen construction workers wearing the familiar headgear to protect them from falling objects and low hanging obstacles.
They are effective in absorbing the shock of any blows to the head from falling or flying objects. Not only do they reduce the bump on your head, they also protect your head from being penetrated by the object.
Did you know that there is a safety message behind the colour of every hard hat? The colours that you are most likely most familiar with is white and orange. This is because these colours are worn mostly by employees doing general construction labour. A white hard had is most often worn by supervisors, and we are all familiar with the red helmet of our firefighters.
Why is it important to wear safety glasses?
Next, consider eye and face protection. This could be something as minor as simple protective eyewear up to a full face shield, depending on the protection needed. Anything that may introduce flying debris will require protection. This could be welding, cutting, grinding, working with concrete or harmful chemicals, or with an energized electrical system.
You should wear safety eyewear because they are the best defense against eye injuries.
Did you know that according to Safework Australia that there are about 500 admissions to hospital per year from work-related eye injuries? Grinding, welding, and other activities that generate lightweight dust and other particles traveling at high speed are the most common cause of eye injuries.
Why do people wear ear muffs?
Construction sites can be very loud. Imagine what a symphony of chainsaws, jackhammers, and heavy equipment can do to the delicate tissues of our inner ears. And for a full eight-hour workday! That’s certainly far longer than the average heavy metal concert, and, isn’t a one-off event.
You should wear hearing protection if the noise or sound level at the workplace exceeds 85 decibels
Hearing protection can be either earplugs or earmuffs. Make sure that the noise-canceling properties of the earmuffs are strong enough to provide the necessary protection. Nowadays you can even get high-end electrical earmuffs that turn on the silencing technology when a loud noise is detected. This means it is easy to talk to your colleagues while maintaining your protection.
Protecting Your Hands With PPE
Your hands are your most widely used tool, and therefore, must be adequately protected. For some jobs, simple work gloves may do the trick, but remember that all gloves should have a snugly, proper fit.
Specialised jobs call for specialised protection. Heavy-duty nitrile gloves are necessary for working with concrete. Welding gloves, of course, are for welding, and insulated gloves and sleeves should be utilized by anyone working with live electricity. Steel mesh gloves can do a lot to protect hands from cutting accidents.
Do I really need work boots?
Many of us are familiar with the traditional steel-toed boot or shoe, designed to prevent crushing injury to the toes. But the danger to the feet can also come from below. Insulated soles can help defend against electrical injury from downed wires, while puncture-resistant soles while defending against punctures from the errant nail. Slip-resistant soles should be a no-brainer, as no one wants to risk injury by falling down on the job, literally or physically.
How does high vis work?
The fluorescent colour in Hi-Vis clothing not only makes a bold statement but there is science behind why the colour stands out. Did you know that the sun’s ultraviolet rays actually react with the fluorescent colours. Even when there is poor light, a Hi-Vis vest will still stand out. Add the reflective strips, and you have the best chance of being seen day and night.
But what about a Mask?
The humble face mask is what I would call the 6th point of PPE.
More and more studies are being done on the contribution of dust too long term illness. Silicosis is a lung condition caused by breathing in too much construction dust. Unfortunately, this is a common hazard in construction, mining, and industrial workplaces. Some examples are when workers are emptying bags of cement, or are sanding, grinding, or cutting concrete.
If you are doing any cutting, grinding, welding, or even activities around the home like using a garden blower it is important to protect yourself from microscopic airborne particulates with an N95 mask Australia.
Your best friend when it comes to respiratory protection against construction dust is a P2 mask. When fitted properly a P2 mask provide at least ≥ 94% filtration from microscopic 0.3 micron particles.
Where can I get PPE
Here at Werko, we have a great range of protective gear. From protective glasses, gloves to masks. View our whole range of personal protective gear at our main category page here.