With continuous risks changing, there is a constant challenge to keep your employees safe. So how does one take it all in and figure out the best solution to the risks of your workplace? How do you adapt to each task amidst constant change? The first step is better understanding of PPE and how it fits into the larger risk solution hierarchy.
What is PPE?
PPE is "Personal Protective Equipment" that is designed to protect you on and off the worksite. It's not just hard hats, hi-vis clothing, and safety glasses. It's protective gear that is specifically designed and engineered to protect you amidst the heat. cold, heights, and everything in between. Let's look at the different types of PPE:
This is often the first safety gear that comes to mind when people think of PPE. Hard hats, bump caps, safety helmets - all of the gear that protects your head from life-altering damage due to falling objects, obstructive beams, and much more. Head protection is of utmost importance when it comes to certain job sites, especially ones that are above 6 ft.
Head protection can also help during the hotter months or areas. Our re-usable Chill-Its® 6710FR Evaporative FR Cooling Triangle Hat has modacrylic cotton blend fabric that remains hydrated for up to 4 hours - just soak in water for 2-5 minutes to activate and you'll be cool on the job site for as long as you want.
Protective eyewear is another extremely important piece of PPE. Why? Well... you need to be able to see what you're doing on the job. Along with a variety of styles, there is certain eyewear that is meant for different applications. Identifying workplace hazards is one of the first steps to take when it comes to deciding what style to wear. Flying objects, dust, UV light, sunlight, chemicals - all need safety eyewear. And don't forget... size, fit, and style matter too!
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The right pair of work gloves can protect the front, back, and sides of your hands from lifelong damage - cuts, frostbite,
vibrations, impact, and fire hazards can all be dangerous! A good pair of gloves that fit your application and hand size well is going to keep your hands safe.
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Face Protection & Body Protection
This is a catch-all for everything else - face and body PPE runs the gamut with hi-vis apparel, fall protection harnesses, FR clothing, headwear, sunscreen, knee pads, respirators, and so much more. Depending on your application, you may need more PPE gear than others. Heat relief is vital for those that are working in hot areas or job sites.
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If your job site is around or in high-intensity noise levels, you could desperately need hearing protection. Having the proper fit and NRR (Noise Reduction Rating) is vital.
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You may sometimes ask yourself, "do I need PPE?".
The quick, short answer is YES. Every job site is going to have some amount of PPE required. PPE is the fifth and final safeguard within the risk solution hierarchy - a sequence of controls that safety pros should follow when implementing risk solutions. The most effective plans are often a combination of all five below.
The Last Line of Defense
Determining necessary safety gear for your worksite shouldn't be a game of guess and check. As the last line of defense, proper fit, selection, and deployment of PPE can be the difference between sending an employee home or to the hospital. Examining the task at hand through the lens of the risk solution hierarchy is an integral step in deciphering the controls and PPE needed to operate your worksite as safe as possible.
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